There will be no interim-fight or venue advantage for Felix 'El Diamante' Verdejo in his first world title fight.
Bob Arum, founder of Top Rank and promoter Verdejo, and Frank Warren, promoter of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) lightweight champion Terry Flanagan, are in deep negotiations to finalize a deal for September 9 in Manchester, England. This was confirmed by both promoters in separate interviews with reporter Jose Sanchez.
"I spoke with Frank a little while ago and he said that he would call me back later today (yesterday). Until we talk again I can not comment because there is nothing signed yet, "Arum said. "Manchester is under discussion. That's what we're talking about."
For his part, Warren indicated that he "would like the fight to be in Manchester. That's what we're working on. But there are still details we need to discuss."
Sources on both sides and with knowledge of the negotiations indicated separately that "most likely" Verdejo (23-0, 15 KO's) will have to challenge Flanagan (33-0, 13 KO's) on British soil.
If the negotiations fall apart for whatever reason, the WBO president Francisco Valcárcel will remove Verdejo from the mandatory position and order Flanagan to fight the highest ranked, available contender.
"If Verdejo does not want to fight with Flanagan now, we must withdraw him as mandatory. Then Flanagan would have to face the highest ranked contender who is available," Valcarcel said.
The second WBO ranked contender at 135 pounds is Raymundo Beltrán (33-7-1, 21 KOs), a seasoned veteran who has already fought in England for the WBO lightweight title, which ended in a controversial draw with then-champion Ricky Burns of England. Beltran also has Top Rank as his promoter.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Verdejo is slated to train in Big Bear, California - under the watchful eyes of veteran coach Abel Sanchez, who is best known as the head trainer of middleweight king Gennady Golovkin.