Matchroom Boxing now has less than a week to deliver contracts for a fight that has been the works for months.
A final deadline of January 7 has been set for proof of firm plans in place for the WBA junior flyweight title consolidation bout between WBA “Super” champion Hiroto Kyoguchi and “World” titlieholder Esteban Bermudez. Both parties and event promoter Eddie Hearn were notified by the sanctioning body on December 29 of a ten-day period assigned to provide signed contracts and with the fight to take place no later than February 9.
The new date is the sixth deadline assigned to a bout that was first ordered on June 10, less than two weeks after Mexico’s Bermudez (14-3-2, 10KOs) dethroned previously unbeaten—though grossly inactive—WBA “World” junior flyweight titlist Carlos Canizales via sixth round knockout in a stunning upset last May 29 in Mexico City. Talks never really got off the ground, with the fight going virtually ignored throughout the summer.
It was brought back to the surface when the WBA was forced to begin its title reduction campaign, which the sanctioning body has since honored at an aggressive pace.
Matchroom Boxing (on behalf of Kyoguchi) and Greg Cohen Promotions (Bermudez) were contacted by the WBA on October 20 to renew talks, with a November 12 deadline in place to reach terms in order to avoid a purse bid hearing. The order came on the heels of Matchroom—with GCP’s approval—attempting to sneak Bermudez onto its announced October 16 DAZN card in Fresno, though in a voluntary title defense versus Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez in lieu of the ordered title consolidation clash with Kyoguchi. It came without the blessing of the WBA, who refused to sanction the fight and instead instruct the original parties to get back to work on the only fight it would approve.
Matchroom and GCP notified the WBA on November 11, alleging that terms were reached at which point a November 22 deadline was set to deliver final contracts.
Such demands were not met, nor was any update provided throughout the month of December.
The WBA has now doubled down on its demand to get this fight in the books. Both parties were reminded of two by-laws in place regarding violation of purse bid terms.
WBA purse bid rule D.15 (“Failure To Sign”) stipulates that “if the champion does not sign a bout contract within the required twenty (20) day period after the bid award, or refuses otherwise to participate in the bout for the winning promoter, he shall be considered in violation of these Rules, and may have his title vacated.”
Regarding the challenger—in this case Bermudez as the secondary titlist—rule D.15.b states that “if a boxer does not sign a bout contract within the required twenty (20) day period after the purse offer, or refuses otherwise to participate in the bout for the winning promoter, the boxer will be considered in violation of these Rules, and may forfeit his status.”
With the WBA striving to reduce each division to one recognized titlist, a double-default would result in Kyoguchi’s “Super” title being declared vacant and Bermudez’s “World” title removed from rotation.
Alternatively, the sanctioning body could call for a new purse bid as per rule D.16 (“Failed Bid”).
“If no qualified bid is received in response to the first purse bid request, or if the winning promoter or a boxer identified in the purse bid award fails to comply with these Rules, the Committee may request a second purse bid. In the case of a title defense, if no qualified bid is received in response to a second purse bid, the Chairman may vacate the title and the position of mandatory contender.”
Japan’s Kyoguchi (15-0, 10KOs) as held the WBA belt since dethroning Hekkie Budler via tenth-round stoppage on New Year’s Eve 2018. In his most recent start, Kyoguchi enjoyed a successful U.S.—and Matchroom—debut in a fifth-round injury stoppage of Axel Aragon Vega this past March 13 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The fight was also his first under Eddy Reynoso’s ‘No Boxing, No Life’ management team.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox