David Light could not have picked a better time to land a career-best win.
The celebration tour for the unbeaten New Zealander will now include a fresh round of talks for a shot at WBO cruiserweight titlist Lawrence Okolie. The two sides were instructed by the WBO on Monday to enter negotiations for a mandatory title fight, coming on the heels of Light’s upset split decision win over Brandon Glanton just three days ago.
“The parties are granted 20-days upon issuance of this letter to negotiate and reach an agreement or purse bid proceedings will be ordered per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests,” Luis Batista-Salas, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee, informed in a letter to representatives for both parties, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Any of the parties involved may request a purse bid procedure at anytime during the negotiation process.”
Okolie is represented by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, at least through his next fight which will presumably come in this title defense. Light is promoted by Matt Rose and the No Limit Boxing team.
Light (20-0, 12KOs) emerged as the mandatory challenger following a minor upset win over Glanton in their ten-round battle of unbeaten cruiserweights on December 2 in Plant City, Florida. The ProBox TV-aired headliner saw Light survive a knockdown in the tenth and final round to claim victory on the scorecards of Brian Garry (95-94) and Thomas Nardone (97-92), overruling judge James Ged O’Connor (95-94 Glanton).
The feat marked the second win in the U.S. for the 31-year-old Light, who hails from North Shore, New Zealand. There is a chance that he will have to hit the road for the third time in a span of four fights.
Okolie (18-0, 14KOs) has held the WBO crown since a sixth-round knockout of former two-time champ Krzysztof Glowacki last March at Wembley Arena (now OVO Arena Wembley) in what remains his best performance to date. Two title defenses have followed, including a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over Michal Cieslak on February 27 at The O2 in his London hometown.
The nine-plus months since his last bout have featured oft-publicized reports of a messy relationship with Matchroom, to the point of clarification needed as to his exact promotional status. It was since confirmed that there remains one fight left on their contract.
Hearn previously addressed the reported issues and Okolie’s public comments, noting in an iFL TV interview that “the animosity began when the boxer brought in new members to his inner circle. Everything was positive until he started hanging around people who have no idea.”
For now, they will have to work as a cohesive unit to move forward with his next title defense.
The 20-day deadline gives a deadline of Christmas Day, though a holiday grace period will likely push it out to at least December 26. Should the fight head to a purse bid, the WBO minimum acceptable bid for a cruiserweight title fight is $300,000.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox