A new location could be in need for Roger Gutierrez’s next title defense.
The reigning WBA junior lightweight titlist revealed on Monday that a Venezuela homecoming is no longer in store for his previously announced fight with mandatory challenger Hector Luis Garcia. The bout was due to take place July 10—a Sunday—at Poliedro de Caracas in Caracas, Venezuela as part of the WBA’s KO Drugs festival, as confirmed at a May 25 press conference on site.
Gutierrez now claims that Garcia’s side had a change of heart, thus ruining such plans.
“I want to tell all Venezuela that I did my best to make my second world title defense in Venezuela,” Gutierrez revealed through his social media channels in delivering the bad news on Monday. “But this time [we] will not be able to do it here and I apologize for that. We are going to the USA to defend my crown.
“I knew you didn’t want to come to Venezuela to fight me,” “If you want to fight in the Dominican Republic, we can do it in your house and the judges can be your family if you want.”
Where exactly in the U.S. the fight will take place is not clear as this goes to publish. BoxingScene.com has since learned that the WBA has ordered both sides to renegotiate terms to avoid the fight heading to a purse bid hearing.
PBC has Showtime cards coming up on July 9 in San Antonio and July 30 in Brooklyn. However, the full undercard for both shows were already confirmed and announced.
Similarly, Golden Boy Promotions already revealed the full undercard for its next event which takes place July 16 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The main event pits Ryan Garcia (22-0, 18KOs) in a lightweight bout with secondary 130-pound titlist Javier Fortuna, Hector Garcia’s countryman and both of whom are aligned with PBC.
Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20KOs) is due to make his first defense as a full titlist and second overall title defense, whenever the fight takes place. The 27-year-old from Maracaibo—roughly nine hours from Caracas—claimed the secondary WBA junior lightweight title in a thrilling twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Rene Alvarado last January 2 in Dallas, avenging a prior knockout loss in their July 2017 non-title fight.
The rubber match saw Gutierrez once again outpoint Nicaragua’s Alvarado, this time in a less entertaining fight but still effective performance last August in Frisco, Texas, part of the greater Dallas area. Days after the fight. Gutierrez gained recognition as the WBA’s lone junior lightweight titlist upon the elimination of its interim titles and also Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis relinquishing his “Super” title in severing ties with the division to compete at lightweight.
Gutierrez was then ordered to face then-unbeaten Chris Colbert, who became the mandatory challenger upon his interim title being removed from circulation. The two were due to collide this past February 26, only for Gutierrez to test positive for Covid.
Garcia (15-0, 10KOs) stepped in on short notice, turning the risk into a huge reward after dominating Colbert over twelve rounds. The unbeaten Dominican—who represented his nation in the 2016 Rio Olympics—punched his way into contention with the win, entering negotiations for his mandatory title fight soon thereafter.
A deal was surprisingly reached to take place in Gutierrez’s home country. However, several figures with knowledge of the latest development have suggested that Garcia’s team suddenly lost interest in hitting the road for his first title fight.
“I’m [still] coming for you,” Gutierrez cautioned his challenger. “Whether here or wherever, this Venezuelan’s balls are to be respected. From Maracaibo to the world.”
Representatives from Garcia's team did not immediately return a message seeking comment or clarification.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox