In the hunt to secure a mandatory challenger for its lightweight title, the World Boxing Organization will be pleased to learn that the next two contenders in line have already hit the ground running.
BoxingScene.com has been informed that representatives for Emmanuel Tagoe and Denis Berinchyk have opened dialogue in discussion for a hoped-for WBO title elimination bout. The proactive approach was taken moments after it was reported by BoxingScene.com that unbeaten lightweight Ryan García (20-0, 17KOs) withdrew his name from consideration in favor of competing for a title with another sanctioning body.
Normal protocol under such circumstances calls for the WBO to officially order the next two highest-ranked available contenders to enter talks. Both parties are well-versed in the sanctioning body’s rules and were eager to begin the process.
“After Ryan García formally declined the fight against Tagoe via a letter to the WBO from his promoter Golden Boy Promotions, we have already begun negotiations with Denys Berinchyk's team,” Peter Kahn, Tagoe’s manager and 2019 BWAA Manager of the Year nominee told BoxingScene.com on Friday. “Alex Krassyuk (Berinchyk’s promoter) has expressed great interest in making this ordered final eliminator happen.”
Ghana’s Tagoe (31-1, 15KOs)–currently the WBO number three lightweight contender—was officially ordered on July 6 to begin talks with García, currently ranked number two and who was initially interested in exploring such a path to the title. Those plans changed dramatically after the 21-year old Victorville, California native instead chose to renew talks with England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16KOs) for a fight with the World Boxing Council (WBC) interim lightweight title at stake.
Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions notified the WBO via email on behalf of García that their client was officially withdrawing from the ordered title eliminator. The decision leaves Tagoe as the current highest-ranked fighter to challenge for the open mandatory position, with number one ranked Lee Selby—a former featherweight titlist from Cardiff, Wales—currently committed to an IBF-sanctioned elimination bout with Australia’s George Kambosos, Jr. who is also managed by Kahn.
Tagoe and Kambosos are both also promoted by DiBella Entertainment, who joined Kahn in the early approach of making things happen rather than awaiting an official order to do so.
“With Ryan Garcia electing to fight for the WBC interim title, we’ve contacted the representatives of the next available contender as the WBO rules provide,” said Lou DiBella, Tagoe’s Hall of Fame-elected promoter.
The next in line is number four ranked Berinchyk (13-0, 7KOs). The rangy 32-year old lightweight comes in well-credentialed, having captured a Silver medal as part of the same 2012 Ukraine Olympic team that housed current WBO/WBA lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10KOs), unbeaten former World cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13KOs) and recently retired former World light heavyweight king Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14KOs).
Now five years into his career, Berinchyk is eager to join his amateur teammates on the pro title stage. His promotional team is just as eager to provide that opportunity.
“We have signed a promotional agreement with Denys Berinchyk in 2015 with the provision that the London Silver Olympic medalist will get his chance to challenge the world title,” explained Krassyuk, managing direct of K2 Promotions-Ukraine. “Being the part of the 2012 Dream Team together with Loma, Usyk and Gvozdyk Berinchyk has been working hard to get his title shot.
“Denys defended his WBO International title three times. One year ago he defeated the #4 WBO rated Japanese Nihito Arakawa and secured his high position in the rankings. So according to WBO regulations he has complied with all the conditions to get nominated as the mandatory.”
Berinchyk made the third defense of his regional title this past February, scoring a 12-round decision over Hector Sarmiento in Brovari, Ukraine. All but one of his 13 pro bouts to take place have been staged at home, the lone exception coming in a June 2017 victory in Budakalász, Hungary.
There has come the expectation of his hitting the road at some point in order to advance his career. This opportunity would certainly qualify.
“If there is still [a title elimination] fight to take, Berinchyk has no hesitations about it,” vows Krassyuk. “He is ready, willing, thirsty to do that. I have informed WBO President Paco Valcarcel that Denys is ready to accept the challenge.
“And we have already had some discussions with Peter Kahn and agreed to announce that both fighters are ready to face each other in the [title elimination]. We look forward to the WBO’s official decision on this fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox