The first ever virtual purse bid hearing scheduled to take place has since been delayed—and likely canceled altogether.
A scheduled purse bid to determine promotional rights for the World Boxing Council interim lightweight title fight between Ryan Garcîa and Luke Campbell instead became an announcement to reveal that both sides have nearly finalized terms. For now, both sides have agreed to a seven-day extension, at which point a deal will likely be reached.
“I hate to disappoint the media on the Zoom call but we are going to delay the bid for seven days,” Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Boxing and Campbell’s promoter revealed during the virtual session held via Zoom on Tuesday. “It looks like we have a deal.”
The claim was validated by his promotional counterpart.
"The purse bid is off, and we’ve secured a seven-day extension from the WBC so that Golden Boy and Matchroom can finalize contracts for the Garcia-Campbell fight," Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions confirmed to BoxingScene.com. "We are making great progress and plan to get this done within the week.”
The interim title fight was ordered in July, shortly after Victorville, California’s Garcîa (20-0, 17KOs) accepted the WBC’s invitation to enter talks with England’s Campbell (20-3, 16KOs). The two sides were given 30 days to negotiate terms or else be subject to a purse bid hearing.
Hearn revealed on Monday that the two sides were close and was hoping for an extension. The WBC wasn’t quite ready to accommodate that request, instead eager to present the first-ever virtual purse bid hearing. The decision to hold it via Zoom in lieu of an in-person session at company headquarters in Mexico City due to travel restrictions and health concerns given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The global health crisis is also the only thing preventing Garcîa and Campbell from moving forward for such an event. A determination as to whether it will take place in the United States or the United Kingdom will come about once it’s known when fans can once again partake in such events. The event will more than likely stream live on DAZN-USA, with both boxers aligned with the OTT media service.
A different career course once awaited García and Campbell prior to the pandemic.
García was being groomed for a crossroads bout versus former three-division titlist Jorge Linares (47-5, 29KOs), with both appearing on the same February 14 show in Anaheim, California. Linares stopped Carlos Morales in four rounds, in supporting capacity to García's 1st round wipeout of former two-time title challenger Francisco Fonseca atop the DAZN-streamed event in front of a sold-out crowd at the Honda Center.
Plans went south for such a pairing, with both ultimately moving in separate directions.
Linares agreed to a fight with WBC mandatory challenger Javier Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs), who was once due to challenge Campbell for what was then the vacant WBC lightweight title. The belt became available when Devin Haney (24-0, 15KOs) voluntarily relinquished after undergoing shoulder surgery which would put him on the sidelines for at least six months.
The scheduled April 17 clash between Fortuna and Campbell was canceled due to the global health crisis, which in turn allowed Haney to be reinstated as the WBC titlist. In turn, Fortuna agreed to a fight with Linares, which was due to take place August 28 at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Fortuna is now in search of a new opponent, as Linares has tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from the contest.
Meanwhile, major progress has been made in the ordered fight where the winner will advance to the top of the queue.
Campbell has been out since a 12-round loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko in their three-belt unification bout last August in London. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist from Hull, England also came up just short in a September 2017 split decision defeat to Linares, who held the WBC title at the time.
The hope on Campbell's end is that third time will be the charm at the title level. It will first require his getting past García, which for now is not yet subject to the highest bidder.
“This is what the world needs now. People need to work together,” Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC declared upon accepting the request to extend the session by another week. “The WBC fully supports this extension and this fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox