Oscar Valdez and Emanuel Navarrete have been instructed to begin talks for a fight that already appears to be a done deal.
The WBO has formally ordered a vacant junior lightweight title fight between Valdez and Navarrete, with the two sides given until November 19 to reach terms. The order is an extension of a ruling confirmed in late October during the annual WBO convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Navarrete was granted a one-fight exception to move up in weight in a bid to become a three-division titlist.
“As per the mandate issued by the WBO during its 35th Annual Convention on Thursday, October 27, 2022, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, it is hereby ordered that the parties herein commenced negotiations to fill the vacancy at the Jr. Lightweight Division,” Luis Batista-Salas noted to all involved parties via official WBO letter, a copy of which was provided to BoxingScene.com. “Therefore, the parties are granted 10-days upon issuance of this notice letter to negotiate and reach an agreement, or purse bid proceedings will be ordered per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.
“The minimum acceptable bid for the WBO Jr. Lightweight Division is $150,000 (One Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars). Any of the parties involved may request a purse bid procedure at any time during the negotiation process.”
Both sides are represented by Top Rank, who has previously set aside a targeted date of February 3 for the terrific matchup between two-division titlists. With that tidbit, the bout is not expected to head to a purse bid hearing.
The belt became available after Shakur Stevenson missed weight ahead of his September 23 win over Robson Conceicao in Newark, New Jersey. Stevenson (19-0, 9KOs) was forced to vacate the WBC and WBO titles he successfully unified in a twelve-round win over Valdez (30-1, 23KOs) on April 30 in Las Vegas.
Despite reports to the contrary, Navarrete (36-1, 30KOs) is not required to vacate his WBO featherweight title.
The ruling during the convention confirmed that he will be able to retain the belt pending the fight outcome. With a win, the 27-year-old Navarrete, who hails from San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico, will be given ten days to decide whether to remain at junior lightweight or if he plans to return to featherweight. The former would require him to vacate the title; the latter will likely leave him subject to a mandatory title defense.
Navarrete previously held the WBO junior featherweight title, which he defended five times within 14 months of his December 2018 title win. The belt was formally vacated in mid-2020, prior to his October 2020 WBO featherweight title win over Ruben Villa. Navarrete has made just three title defenses, including a sixth-round stoppage of Eduardo Baez on August 20 in San Diego, California.
Valdez (30-1, 23KOs) previously held the WBO featherweight title and WBC junior lightweight title.
The latter reign began with a spectacular tenth-round knockout of long-reigning Miguel Berchelt last February in Las Vegas. Valdez made just one successful title defense, a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Conceicao last September in a fight mired by an eventually resolved drug testing controversy.
A bid to unify the WBC/WBO junior lightweight titles resulted in Valdez’s aforementioned defeat to Stevenson.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox