By Jake Donovan

Pedro Guevara entered training camp early, well aware that his next fight would likely take place in the spring. The newly crowned 108 lb. titlist now has his full marching orders, as he will return April 11 in Mexico, likely in an optional defense versus Japan’s Atsushi Kakutani.

The event will mark the first defense of the belt he acquired on the road, scoring a 9th round stoppage of former two-division champ Akira Yaegashi last New Year’s Eve in Japan.

Overall, Guevara (24-1-1, 16KOs) has won six straight contests following a heartbreaking points loss to then-108 lb. beltholder John Riel Casimero in Aug. ’12.

Kakutani (15-4-1, 8KOs) is hardly a world-beater, but the southpaw has enjoyed memorable flashes in an otherwise ordinary career. His lone other title shot came in Aug. ’13, flooring Adrian Hernandez early before suffering three knockdowns of his own en route to a 4th round stoppage loss.

The bout took place in Mexico, the only time Kakutani has fought outside of his native Japan. He has since won two straight, albeit versus nondescript oppostion.

His lone win of note is one that actually looks better in retrospect, scoring an eight-round decision over Rey Loreto in Nov. ’12. Loreto was regarded as a journeyman at the time, but went on to score back-to-back upset wins over Pornsawan Porpramook and a shocking 3rd round knockout of Nkosinathi Joyi.

While an optional defense is understandable for Guevara or any new titlist, the alternatives that were previously floated leaves the potential final choice as a bit of a letdown.

Ganigan Lopez is the leading contender to the title, though not the mandatory nor has his handlers been particularly committal on his immediate future. It was announced during the WBC Convention last December that Lopez would face either Jonathan Taconing or former two-time champ Adrian Hernandez in a final eliminator for the right to face Guevara.

Taconing is now linked to an April 4 showdown with Ramon Garcia, though efforts are still being made to have the fight contested as some sort of title eliminator. Hernandez – who, like Guevara is promoted by Promociones del Pueblo – has yet to reveal his upcoming plans.

The April 11 show will air live on Televisa as part of its Sabados de Box series.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Twitter: @JakeNDaBox