Zanfer Boxing claimed promotional rights to the Ra’eese Aleem-David Picasso WBC junior featherweight title elimination contest.
The Tijuana-headquartered promotional company outpaced US-based TGB Promotions during Friday’s purse bid hearing conducted from WBC’s headquarters in Mexico City. Zanfer submitted $200,500, while TGB offered $157,500 on behalf of King’s Boxing and for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
A date and location were not yet established for the previously-ordered title eliminator.
The winner will become the second mandatory to the WBC 122-pound title held by Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8KOs), who also owns the WBO title and next defends both versus three-division champ Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21KOs) on July 25 in Tokyo.
Luis Nery (34-1, 26KOs) is the first mandatory in line following his eleventh-round knockout of Azat Hovhannisyan in their unforgettable February 18 slugfest in Pomona, California. The leading Fight of the Year contender saw Nery march through hell to eventually force a stoppage.
Aleem (20-0, 12KOs) has called out everyone in the division, though his battle cry has fallen on deaf ears. The unbeaten boxer from Las Vegas by way of Muskegon, Michigan became one to watch following a one-sided, eleventh-round knockout of Vic Pasillas in their January 2021 battle of unbeaten prospects.
The win came on the undercard of Fulton’s WBO title victory over Angelo Leo, with the two also featured in separate bouts later that November. Fulton unified the WBC and WBO titles with a win over Brandon Figueroa in their memorable battle of unbeaten titlists, while Aleem settled for a majority decision victory over Eduardo Baez.
Just one fight was featured in Aleem’s disappointing 2022 campaign, though he made it count in a ten-round shutout of Mike Plania last September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Picasso (24-0-1, 13KOs) will make a considerable leap in competition, assuming the fight moves forward. The baby-faced 22-year-old from Mexico City has fought exclusively in Mexico through six years as a pro. He enters the ordered eliminator having stopped each of his past six opponents, including a sixth-round knockout of countryman Kevin Villanueva on March 4 in Merida, Mexico.
Nery-Hovhannisyan and Aleem-Picasso were both approved as title eliminators during the WBC's annual convention last November in Acapulco. At the time, it was believed that a Fulton-Figueroa rematch was going to take place at featherweight, where the WBC approved an interim title at stake.
The sanctioning body classified the two eliminators as a four-man tournament, with the teaser of allowing for the two winners to fight for an interim belt or for the vacant title had Fulton beaten Figueroa and remained at featherweight.
Instead, the box-off has changed to a growing line awaiting the winner of the well-received Fulton-Inoue championship clash. For Aleem, it likely means a road trip or—at the very least—a fight outside the PBC universe.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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