By Miguel Rivera
The return of WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (21-0, 19KOs) could take place in April, either on tentative dates of the 8th or 22nd of that month.
According to WBO President Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel, a mandatory defense of his organization's featherweight title is long overdue.
The mandatory challenger to the title is hard puncher Miguel Marriaga (25-1, 21 KOs). The only loss on Marriaga came by way of decision to former world champion Nicholas Walters in June of 2015.
Marriaga became the mandatory last August after knocking out Guy Robb. He came back in December and knocked out Eduardo Montoya.
Valdez captured the vacant title last July after knocking out Matias Rueda. He made his first defense in November with a one-sided beatdown of
"It's been a while since [a mandatory defense of that title was made]. Oscar Valdez had to make a mandatory fight within six months of winning the title, and Top Rank has that fighter and they're looking for a date on HBO," Valcárcel told ESPN Deportes.
Marriaga is also promoted by Top Rank.
Valdez could potentially appear on the undercard where Vasyl Lomachenko will stake his WBO super featherweight title against Jason Sosa on April 8 at the MGM National Harbor Of Oxon Hill, Maryland.
And the other option would be a pairing on April 22 in Los Angeles, California, where Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramírez will make his long awaited return and defend of his WBO super middleweight title for the very first time, against battle tested Max Bursak .
Top Rank had interest in matching Valdez against former world champion Nonito Donaire, but the Filipino veteran rejected that proposal. Donaire, who competes at 122 pounds, cited his concerns with fighting in the featherweight division.