Miguel Berchelt is set to begin what he hopes will be a second title run and at a new weight.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the former WBC junior lightweight titlist will move up in weight for a planned lightweight clash with Jeremiah Nakathila. The bout will headline a March 26 show on an ESPN platform from a venue to be determined, confirming an earlier tweet from ESPN Deportes’ Salvador ‘Chava’ Rodriguez suggesting the fight was in play.
Berchelt (38-2, 34KOs)—who hails from Merida. Mexico—has not fought since a stunningly one-sided knockout loss to Oscar Valdez last February 20 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The defeat ended his lengthy WBC junior lightweight title reign, having made six defenses spread out over four years. A 14-month stretch between title fights came from the pandemic, along with Berchelt—a twelve-year pro though still only 30 years old—testing positive for Covid which forced a second delay in his planned clash with Valdez.
Prior to their title fight, Berchelt took a lightweight fight as means to stay busy in a June 2020 knockout win over Eleazar Valenzuela. Berchelt weighed 135 pounds for the ESPN-televised non-title fight from Mexico City, his heaviest weight since 2014.
It will now potentially serve as his new home, as will be the case versus an opponent who also moves up in weight.
Nakathila (22-2, 18KOs) has spent the majority of his eight-plus year career at junior lightweight, where he also challenged for an interim version of the WBO title. The 32-year old Namibian came up well short, dropping a one-sided, twelve-round decision to Shakur Stevenson last June. Stevenson—a silver medalist for the U.S. during the 2016 Rio Olympics and former WBO featherweight titlist—went on to dominate Jamel Herring in a tenth-round stoppage to win the full version of the WBO junior lightweight title last October 23 in Atlanta.
One week prior, Nakathila returned to the win column with a second-round knockout of Zimbabwe’s Ndodana Ncube last October 16 in his hometown of Windhoek, Namibia.
The bout with Berchelt will mark just the third career fight outside of South Africa for Nakathila, along with his second in the U.S. His lone other road trip resulted in his first career defeat, a November 2016 twelve-round decision to then-unbeaten Evgeny Chuprakov in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Berchelt-Nakathila is part of an active spring schedule for Top Rank and ESPN. The card follows a March 19 show loaded with rising talent, with Brooklyn-bred super middleweight Edgar Berlanga (18-0, 16KOs) facing Toronto’s Steve Rolls (21-1, 12KOs) in the main event at Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater in New York City. Blue chip prospects Xander Zayas and 2020 Olympic Silver medalist Keyshawn Davis also appear in separate bouts.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox