The WBO has ordered a fight between top contenders Arnold Barboza Jr. and Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBO junior welterweight title, as of the evening of Tuesday, July 11th, sort of. As in boxing nothing is ever simple.
Arnold Barboza Jr., the only top contender in the junior welterweight division seems assured the next shot at the WBO world title, but now it is going to take a tad bit of explaining as to who he will fight next for the belt. In short, Barboza Jr. will be ordered to fight Jose Ramirez if Teofimo Lopez and Devin Haney do not give notice in the next 24 hours, with Lopez, who holds the belt currently getting the priority in the case that they both accept the offer.
Another interesting subplot is that Barboza Jr., and Ramirez are both managed by Rick Mirigian, and promoted by the same promoter, Top Rank Inc. Meaning that in theory this bout should be very easy to make.
“Please be advised that the WBO World Championship Committee is hereby ordering the commencement of negotiations for the subject matter bout. The parties herein are granted 20 days upon notice of this order to reach an agreement or purse bid proceedings will be ordered pursuant to WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests. Any of the parties herein may request purse bid proceedings at any time during the negotiations. The minimum bid in the WBO Jr. Welterweight Division is one-hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000),” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas stated via a document released on Tuesday night from the WBO.
Teofimo Lopez, just won the WBO junior welterweight championship against Josh Taylor on June 10th, but retired after the fight despite being 25-years-old. The WBO has now given Lopez 24 hours to confirm in writing whether he will retain the championship title. If that isn’t provided - the WBO world title becomes vacant.
If Teofimo Lopez decides to return within a twelve month timeframe, he will be the mandatory challenger as well - as stated in a verse dense document on Tuesday evening.
“(i) Teofimo Lopez, Jr.,personally, has 24 hours upon issuance of this notice to confirm in writing to the WBO Championship Committee whether he retains his WBO Jr. Welterweight Championship; if the WBO Championship Committee does not receive such confirmation in writing within the term stated herein or having the 24 hour term elapsed without no confirmation, on behalf of Teofimo Lopez, Jr., it will be understood that the WBO Jr. Welterweight Championship is declared “Vacant”; (ii) if Teofimo Lopez, Jr., personally, confirms in writing that he is retaining his WBO Jr. Welterweight Championship, the Barboza, Jr./Ramirez, Jr., negotiation order is terminated,“ explained Luis Batista-Salas about Teofimo Lopez’s position as champion.
Now comes the x-factor. If the undisputed lightweight world champion Devin Haney, who recently defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko on pay-per-view, were to move up to the junior welterweight division as some suspect he might. Haney can confirm in writing within 24-hours that he is willing to move up the junior welterweight division to challenge for the WBO junior welterweight title against Barboza Jr., the bout against Ramirez will cease to exist.
"(iii) “Undisputed” WBO Lightweight Champion Devin Haney, personally, has 24 hours upon issuance of this notice to confirm in writing to the WBO Championship Committee whether he will move up to Jr. Welterweight Division to face Arnold Barboza, Jr. (iv) if the WBOChampionship Committee does not receive such confirmation in writing within the term statedherein or having the 24 hour term elapsed without no confirmation, on behalf of Haney, it will be understood that he will stay in the Lightweight Division; (v) if Haney, personally, confirms in writing to moving up to the Jr. Welterweight,” stated Luis Batista-Salas for the WBO’s stance toward Devin Haney and his position in the division if he chooses to move up to junior welterweight.”