Liam Paro will have another shot at the same team who previously bailed on an ordered title eliminator.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBO has formally ordered a final junior welterweight elimination bout between Australia’s Paro and former unified titlist Jose Ramirez. The development comes just five days after the sanctioning body sent an invitation to Ramirez to enter negotiations, with the same amount of time now provided to reach terms for the proposed fight.
“Please be advised that the WBO World Championship Committee is hereby ordering the commencement of negotiations for the subject matter bout,” WBO Championship Committee chariman Luis Batista-Salas stated to Matchroom Boxing and Top Rank in an official letter obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Failure to reach an accord within the period outlined herein, will result in the Committee ordering purse bid proceedings pursuant to WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.”
Matchroom represents Paro (23-0, 14KOs), while Top Rank has served as the career long promoter for Ramirez (28-1, 18KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and former WBC/WBO 140-pound titlist from Avenal, California.
Paro remains first in line to enter a final eliminator to determine the next mandatory challenger for lineal and WBO junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs). Wednesday’s order comes less than a week after it was learned that Arnold Barboza—through Top Rank and manager Rick Mirigian—would no longer proceed in an ordered elimination bout with Paro that was won by Matchroom in an April 27 purse bid hearing.
Matchroom bid $303,000, edging Top Rank ($271,000) to gain promotional rights for a bout that was eyed to land on a July 15 DAZN show in Detroit to be headlined by undisputed junior lightweight queen Alycia Baumgardner. Paro was entitled to the favorable end of a 60/40 split since the fight was due to take place in the U.S. Barboza hails from the greater Los Angeles area and thus would have earned 40 percent, per the terms of the purse bid.
No sooner was Barboza removed from the equation, Ramirez was contacted by the WBO as the next highest ranked contender and given 48 hours to decide whether he was interested in moving forward with the proposed fight.
Ramirez and Barboza are both promoted by Top Rank and managed by Mirigian, which created speculation that Paro would instead have to set his sights on Shohjahon Ergashev (23-0, 20KOs).
Wednesday’s revelation suggests there is at least interest on Ramirez’s side to see out the process.
Ramirez won the WBC junior welterweight title in a March 2018 points victory over Amir Imam.
Four successful defenses followed, including a sixth-round knockout of then-unbeaten WBO titlist Maurice Hooker in their July 2019 unification bout in Arlington, Texas. Ramirez’s reign ended with his lone career defeat in a competitive but clear decision awarded to Scotland’s Taylor in their May 2021 undisputed championship in Las Vegas.
Taylor has since relinquished the WBC, WBA and IBF titles. He will next defend the WBO strap versus former unified and lineal lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13KOs) on June 10 in New York City.
Paro (23-0, 14KOs) previously commanded the top spot in the WBO 140-pound rankings but was never formally identified as the mandatory challenger. The 26-year-old Brisbane southpaw advanced to the top after a ten-round win over Yomar Alamo in their December 2021 battle of unbeaten young contenders.
His lone bout of 2022 was in an all-Oz clash with undefeated Brock Jarvis, which launched Matchroom’s DAZN debut in the Australian market. Paro made an emphatic statement in a sensational first-round knockout of his countryman. Paro entered 2023 with the intention of eventually challenging for a major title. However, he was forced to withdraw from a March 11 clash with England’s Robbie Davies Jr. after suffering a facial fracture during training camp.
In the event that the teams for Paro and Ramirez cannot reach a deal, the WBO will assign a purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights. The minimum accepted bid is $150,000, though such a fight is expected to attract far greater financial interest if even from the same two promoters.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox