By Jake Donovan
In its continued efforts to consolidate the number of champions in each division, the World Boxing Association (WBA) has ordered the camps for Takashi Uchiyama and Javier Fortuna to begin negotiations for an ordered title fight.
Uchiyama is recognized as the WBA “super” champion, while Fortuna claimed the “regular” title in his win over Bryan Vasquez last May.
“[T]he parties (for Uchiyama and Fortuna) are requested to begin negotiations for a mandatory title defense,” WBA attorney Michael E. McAleenan informed both camps in a letter obtained by BoxingScene.com. “If the parties are unable to reach an agreement and submit signed bout contracts within the next thirty (30) days, the WBA will issue a call for a purse bid.”
A 30-day period puts a potential purse bid on the next available business day surrounding February 28 (a Sunday). Either party can call for an immediate purse bid hearing in the event that negotiations reach a stalemate.
Uchiyama (24-0-1, 20KOs) recently celebrated his six-year anniversary as a super featherweight titlist. The unbeaten 36-year old from Japan has earned the distinction of serving as the division’s best fighter in the absence of a lineal champion.
Overall, Uchiyama has made 11 successful defenses of the crown he first claimed in a 12th round knockout of Juan Carlos Salgado in Jan. ’10. His most recent win came last New Year’s Eve, scoring a 3rd round knockout of Oliver Flores at home in Tokyo, Japan.
Believed to be next was a springtime clash with unbeaten former featherweight titlist Nicholas ‘Axeman’ Walters, who recently moved up in weight. A suggestion was made by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum that plans were in the works for such a fight to not only happen but to potentially land on the HBO Pay-Per-View undercard of the April 9 rubber match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, Jr.
It has become apparent that such a matchup wasn’t as far along as was suggested to be the case.
The same can be said for rumors surrounding Fortuna’s immediate future. The unbeaten two-division titlist from Dominican Republic was led to believe that next in queue was a showdown with Gervonta Davis, an unbeaten prospect whom former pound-for-pound-king Floyd Mayweather has personally taken under his win.
Mayweather informed FightHype.com that Davis’ next fight would be for a world title, coming on the undercard of the yet-to-be-scheduled showdown between super lightweight titlist Adrien Broner and Mayweather Promotions’ Ashley Theophane. While Broner is due to enter the next phase of his training camp – which began in his Cincinnati hometown and will move to Washington D.C. – Davis’ next scheduled opponent remains a mystery.
It most certainly won’t be Fortuna (29-0-1, 21KOs), a former WBA interim featherweight titlist who outgrew the division and moved up in weight in 2013. He is 8-0 since leaving his old belt at the scales, including a 12-round decision over Bryan Vasquez last May in Brooklyn, New York.
His lone successful title defense came last September, forcing a 10th round stoppage of Puerto Rico’s Carlos Ivan Velasquez in Las Vegas.
Whereas multiple WBA titlists within the same division were free to rack up defenses while running parallel of one another, the sanctioning body has vowed to eliminate such practice. WBA President Gilberto Jesus Mendoza announced earlier this year a heavyweight tournament that will lead to one recognized champion.
True to its word, the WBA has begun to carry over the practice into other divisions, as evidenced by this ordered title fight. Plans have yet to be revealed for the eventual inclusion of Jezreel Corrales, who won the “interim” title last December at home in Panama, where the WBA is headquartered.
For now, eliminating the number of super featherweight titlists with this ordered fight is a huge step in the right direction.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox