Luis Nery gets his long-craved shot at a second major title, although it comes with a pre-filled calendar.
The World Boxing Council (WBC) approved Tijuana’s Nery (30-0, 24KOs)—its current mandatory contender at junior featherweight—to challenge for the now-vacant title versus countryman Aaron Alemada (25-0, 13KOs). Their bout will take place September 26, as part of a split Showtime Pay-Per-View event live from Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Waiting in the wings will be upward of three mandatory challengers, per separate rulings at the 58th annual WBC convention Thursday afternoon via remote location.
The belt became available after long-reigning titlistRey Vargas (34-0, 22KOs) suffered a broken leg this summer, thus putting him on the shelf essentially for the rest of 2020. However long, it will be extended enough to not honor his mandatory title defense obligations. As such, the 29-year old fromOtumba, Mexico has been namedWBC “Champion in Recess.”
The title is granted to reigning champs who suffer injuries which keep them out of the ring for an extended period of time. The benefit that comes with the designation is that it allows the former titlist to contend for the title whenever he is medically cleared and so chooses to return to that level of competition.
In the meantime, the WBC ordered two separate title eliminators, with the order of who gets a shot first to be determined upon completion of such a series.
On the same Showtime PPV card will come a 12-round clash between former unified WBA/IBF titlist Daniel Roman (27-3-1, 10KOs) and former bantamweight title claimant Juan Carlos Payano (21-3, 9KOs). Both boxers are coming off of losses in their most recent performances.
Roman dropped a tightly contested 12-round decision to Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6KOs) this past January in a leading contender for 2020 Fight of the Year. The setback ended Roman’s run of holding at least one title since a 9th round knockout of unbeaten WBA titlist Shun Kubo in September 2017 in Kyoto, Japan. Four successful defenses followed including a 12-round win over then-IBF titlist TJ Doheny to unify in their Fight of the Year-level war last April.
Payano has been out since a 9th round knockout loss to Nery last July. The two-time Olympian for Dominican Republic was previously due to face Reymert Gaballo for an interim version of the WBA bantamweight title, but has since been assigned to meet Roman for the right to challenge for the WBC title.
Also now due to enter the mix is a planned clash between unbeaten contender Carlos Castro and former title challenger Christopher Diaz. The two will collide October 24 on an ESPN platform live from The Bubble in Las Vegas, per Top Rank VP of Operations Carl Moretti.
Phoenix’s Castro (26-0, 11KOs) is coming off arguably the best win of his career, dismantling former interim 122-pound titlist Cesar Juarez in four rounds this past July in Las Vegas. The win aired live on ESPN, as did Diaz’s latest feat. The 25-year old from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico weighed a career-lightest 124 ¾ pounds for a 10-round win over Jason Sanchez in their June 23 pairing of former title challengers.
Diaz (26-2, 16KOs) is now moving all the way down from junior lightweight, where he challenged Japan’s Masayuki Ito for the vacant WBO title just two years ago. Since then have come four bouts within the featherweight limit before making the decision to drop all the way down to junior featherweight.
Roman is currently the number-two ranked WBC contender at 122 pounds, one spot above Castro. Where they fall after their respective bouts—should they both win—remains to be seen, although it was reiterated that Vargas would still be eligible to potentially jump the line should he be cleared to fight by such point.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox