Plans for an all-Boricua title eliminator have now shifted to the long-running Puerto Rico-Mexico in-ring rivalry.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the previously announced Oscar Collazo-Wilfredo ‘Bimbito’ Mendez WBO strawweight title eliminator is no longer in play. A back injury forced Mendez—a 26-year-old southpaw and former WBO titlist from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico—to withdraw from their planned January 28 clash at YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California.
Collazo now has a new opponent for the show, as the 26-year-old southpaw from Villalba, P.R. will now face Mexico’s Yudel Reyes. The bout will serve in supporting capacity to the previously confirmed Golden Boy Promotions-presented DAZN event, headlined by Santa Ana-bred welterweight contender Alexis Rocha (21-1, 13KOs) who will face Atlantic City’s Anthony ‘Juice’ Young (24-2, 8KOs) in a scheduled 12-round regional title fight.
Reyes (15-1, 5KOs) will fight in the U.S. for the first time as a pro, while riding a three-fight win streak. The lone defeat suffered by the 26-year-old Monterrey, Mexico native came in an August 2021 majority decision to then-unbeaten countryman Moises Caro.
Among his current run is a ten-round decision victory over Rene Santiago to claim a WBO regional title last April 8 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His most recent win came in a confidence-preserving first-round knockout last August 27 in San Pedro, Mexico.
Collazo (5-0, 3KOs) has been moved aggressively by Miguel Cotto Promotions, who co-promotes the ambitious strawweight along with Golden Boy Promotions. The 5’1” southpaw—who turned pro in 2020—entered his first ten-rounder in just his fourth pro contest, only needing three to get rid of Pedro Villegas in their December 2021 clash in Panama City, Panama.
Just one fight came of his 2022 campaign, trading knockdowns with former WBO strawweight titlist Vic Saludar to prevail via twelve-round, unanimous decision. The win came on a July 16 DAZN show topped by Ryan Garcia’s sixth-round knockout of Javier Fortuna, with Collazo emerging as the WBA challenger in waiting for the Thammanoon Niyomtrong-Erick Rosa title consolidation clash on March 1 in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand.
A win on January 28 will see the diminutive Puerto Rican advance to the top spot in the WBO rankings. The current champion is Philippines’’ Melvin Jerusalem, who was responsible for the first title change of 2023 following his stunning second-round knockout of Masataka Taniguchi on January 6, on the road in Osaka, Japan.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox