Melvin Jerusalem and Oscar Collazo will have to cut short their respective victory laps and begin talks for a head-on collision.
The WBO has formally ordered a mandatory strawweight title fight between the Philippines’ Jerusalem as its newly crowned champ and Puerto Rico’s Collazo who just became the top contender over the weekend. The two camps have until February 14 to reach teams and avoid a purse bid hearing.
“Please be advised that the WBO World Championship Committee is hereby ordering the commencement of negotiations for the subject matter bout,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas informed the teams for both boxers on Monday via official letter, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The parties herein have 15 days upon issuance of this letter to negotiate and reach an agreement accordingly.
“If an accord is not reached within the time frame set forth herein, purse bid proceedings will be called per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.”
Jerusalem (20-2, 12KOs) is represented in talks by Kameda Promotions, while Golden Boy Promotions and Promociones Miguel Cotto co-promote Collazo (6-0, 4KOs).
The announcement was made two days after Collazo advanced to the mandatory position following a fifth-round knockout of Monterrey, Mexico’s Yudel Reyes this past Saturday at YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California. The sanctioned WBO title eliminator came just 22 days after Jerusalem dethroned Masataka Taniguchi in a stunning second-round knockout on January 6 in Osaka, Japan.
The title win for Jerusalem came in a voluntary defense for Taniguchi, for which the 28-year-old Filipino agreed to options secured by Kameda Promotions headed by former three-division champion Koki Kameda. Jerusalem earned his eighth straight win along with becoming the lone active titleholder from the Philippines, who saw its five remaining champions dethroned in a brutal 2022 for the proud fighting nation.
Collazo hopes to add to Puerto Rico’s relatively low total, boasting just two reigning champs.
WBO junior flyweight titlist Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez is due to face unified WBC/WBA 108-pouind king Kenshir Terai in April. Unified WBC/IBF/WBO featherweight queen Amanda Serrano faces WBA titlist Erika Cruz in a bid to become Puerto Rico’s first-ever undisputed champion, regardless of gender.
Collazo is poised to make history for his beloved island as well. A win will see the 26-year-old southpaw claim a world title in the fewest amount of fights by a Puerto Rican fighter. He pursues this challenge in just his seventh pro fight, doing so after establishing himself as the mandatory challenger for the WBA and WBO in back-to-back fights.
Prior to Saturday's win, Collazo became the WBA number-one contender with a twelve-round win over former WBO strawweight titlist Vic Saludar last July 16 in Los Angeles. He was prepared to wait out the winner of the March 1 Thammanoon Niyomtrong-Erick Rosa WBA title consolidation clash before receiving the opportunity to fight in a WBO title eliminator.
Collazo was previously due to face fellow Boricua and former WBO titlist Wifredo ‘Bimbito’ Mendez, who withdrew due to a back injury. The WBO approved Collazo to face Reyes in the title eliminator, stopping the Mexican in the fifth round of the opening bout of a January 28 DAZN show topped by welterweight contender Alexis Rocha.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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