Wilfredo ‘Bimbito’ Mendez will see his next title defense land in the hands of the highest bidder.

A purse bid hearing has been ordered by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) to determine promotional rights for the strawweight title fight between defending champion Mendez and mandatory challenger Masataka Taniguchi. The two sides were granted a ten-day negotiation period, only for the deadline to approach with a deal in place.

The matter will now serve as the subject of a purse bid to take place October 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET from WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Participants can attend in person or via Zoom conference call though with the requirement of submitting a minimum bid of $80,000 for the title fight according to a letter submitted to all WBO-registered promoters, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com.

The winning bid will be split 75%/25% in favor of Mendez as the defending champion. The split increases to 80/20 should the fight take place in the challenger’s home country (in this case, Japan).

Mendez is represented by manager Raul Pastrana, who heads Spartan Boxing. Taniguchi fights under the Watanabe Promotions banner.

Mendez (16-1, 6KOs) will attempt the third defense of the WBO strawweight title he has held since a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Philippines’ Vic Saludar in August 2019. The streaking southpaw from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico—who turns 27 in November—has won seven in a row, including a repeat win over Axel Aragon Vega in their October 2019 rematch and a ninth-round stoppage of Gabriel Mendoza in his most recent title defense last February on the road in Panama City.

The lengthy inactive stretch is not by design, with Mendez’s progress hindered by the pandemic along with the lack of cooperation from his divisional peers. A scheduled title defense this past August fell apart mere days before their fight when Nicaragua’s Carlos Buitrago abruptly withdrew due to dehydration and difficulty in scaling down to the strawweight limit.  

Taniguchi (14-3, 9KOs) came up short in his lone other title challenge, a twelve-round decision to Saludar in February 2019 at Korakuen Hall in his Tokyo hometown. The 27-year-old southpaw has since won three in a row. In his most recent start, Taniguchi claimed a fifth-round stoppage win over countryman Tatsuro Nakashuma this past June also at Korakuen Hall which he has fought seven times including each of his last four starts.

The winning bidder will have five days to submit a finalized bout agreement, complete with date and location for the event. The fight must take place no sooner than 45 days from the purse bid hearing, though no later than 90 days. Should Mendez fail to comply with the purse bid terms whether due to injury or any other reason, the title will be declared vacant. Should Taniguchi fail to go through with the fight, he will be removed from the mandatory position, with the fight going to the next highest-rated available challenger.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox