Luis Nery has set his fights firmly on the obstacle standing in his way of a third title reign he’s always had on his mind.
The former WBC bantamweight and junior featherweight titlist is now one win away from making his way back to that stage. Standing in his way is Armenia’s Azat ‘Crazy A’ Hovhannisyan, whom Tijuana’s Nery faces in a WBC junior featherweight title eliminator this Saturday on DAZN from Fox Theater in Pomona, California.
“I’m so happy to be returning to the ring this weekend,” Nery noted during the final pre-fight press conference Thursday afternoon at the site of this weekend’s show. “Azat is a great fighter. He’s never been knocked out before. but I am ready for this challenge and to become the first to do it.
“I have been preparing for the past four months. I’m at the weight I need to be at and I’m ready for this opportunity.”
Nery (33-1, 25KOs) has won two in a row since suffering his lone career defeat in a seventh-round knockout to Brandon Figueroa in May 2021. The setback ended his brief WBC junior featherweight title reign, having won the belt in a September 2020 points victory over Aaron Alameda to become a two-division titleholder.
The road to regaining the title began with a ten-round victory over unbeaten Carlos Castro in their WBC semifinal eliminator last February 5 in Las Vegas. While waiting out his turn to re-enter title contention, 'Panrtera' surfaced on a card celebrating fellow Tijuana native Jackie Nava in the final fight of her storied career last October 1 in their hometown. The 28-year-old southpaw scored a third-round knockout of countryman and former title challenger David Carmona while awaiting further instructions which were revealed at the WBC convention last November in Acapulco, Mexico.
Hovhannisyan (21-3, 17KOs) was previously due to go the WBA route but opted for the quicker path to the title in agreeing to the WBC eliminator versus Nery. The LA-based Armenian has won seven straight—all but one inside the distance—since a twelve-round defeat to then-unbeaten WBC junior featherweight titlist Rey Vargas.
The belt is now held by unified WBC/WBO champ Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8KOs), who outlasted Figueroa in their November 2021 unification bout. The 28-year-old Philadelphia native is due to next face former three-division champ Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21KOs) this May in Japan, with Nery hopeful of challenging the winner later this year.
“This fight is a great opportunity for me to show that I am serious about regaining my WBC (122-pound) championship,” vowed Nery. “Azat likes to come forward and throw a lot of combinations. I like to fight that same way and I have come prepared for a war.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox