Rey Vargas caught the worst kind of break, though one which greatly benefits his challenger in waiting.
Undefeated former bantamweight titlist Luis Nery will now cash in his mandatory junior featherweight ranking for a title shot, which will come in his oft-postponed showdown versus countryman Aaron Alameda. The latest plans call for the two to square off September 26 in Uncasville, Connecticut, which will now come with the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) 122-pound title at stake.
Confirmation of the bout and its stakes came during the 58th annual WBC convention, held remotely in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The belt became available after Vargas (34-0, 22KOs) recently suffered a broken leg injury, which will keep him sidelined likely for the balance of 2020. Given his unfortunate situation, he has been assigned WBC “Champion In Recess” status, consistent with the sanctioning body rules for reigning titlists who suffer injuries which keep them out of the ring beyond their mandatory obligations.
“It is very unfortunate what has happened,” Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC noted during the “Mandatories” session of the convention on Thursday. “Luis Nery will now face Aaron Alameda for the vacant title.”
The development became an unofficial announcement for the bout’s placement on a stacked Showtime Pay-Per-View card featuring twins Jermall and Jermell Charlo in separate title defenses.
Nery (30-0, 24KOs) has been out of the ring since a 9th round stoppage of former bantamweight titlist Juan Carlos Payano (21-3, 9KOs) last July in Las Vegas. The one-time 118-pound king was due to face Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez—another former bantamweight title claimant—last November, but missed weight which resulted in the cancellation of the bout.
The knockout artist from Tijuana has since set his sights on Alameda (25-0, 13KOs), who hasn’t fought since last April. The southpaw from Nogales, Mexico—who turns 27 later this month—was due to face Nery on March 28 at Park MGM in Las Vegas, which would have been just his second career fight in the United States. The event was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with promises of a rescheduled affair for July 18 and again in August.
As frustrating as the waiting process has been, patience pays off in the end with the raised stakes.
The winner will be assigned a mandatory challenger by late October, with Vargas reserving the right as Champion in Recess to challenge for his old title any time he is ready to return and so chooses to go that route.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox