Liam Paro is already in search of a new opponent.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that unbeaten junior welterweight contender Arnold Barboza will no longer move forward with the ordered WBO junior welterweight title eliminator versus Paro. The development comes one day after Matchroom Boxing secured the rights to the final elimination bout through a purse bid hearing held Thursday at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Matchroom bid $303,000, which was to be split 60/40 in favor of Australia’s Paro 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.
The development forced the sanctioning body to move on to the next highest available ranked contender. A 48-hour hour notice has been issued to former unified titlist Jose Ramirez, to confirm whether he is willing to enter a negotiation period for the fight.
“On Friday, April 28, 2023, the WBO confirmed receipt of email correspondence by Mr. Jeremy Koegel, on behalf of Top Rank advising that Mr. Rick Mirigian, on behalf of Arnold Barboza, Jr., does not wish to proceed with the ordered bout (Barboza/Paro) on the financial terms afforded by Matchroom’s winning bid held on Thursday, April 27, 2023,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas stated to all involved parties in a letter obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Consequently, Top Rank indicated that the referenced communication served as formal notice that Barboza, Jr. will not participate in the bout.
“Considering the foregoing, and having reviewed the WBO Jr. Welterweight Ratings, the next available contender is Mr. Jose Carlos Ramirez. Therefore, Mr. Ramirez is hereby granted 48 hours upon issuance of this notice to confirm in writing to the WBO whether he is interested, available, ready, willing, and able to fight Liam Paro in the Jr. Welterweight Elimination Championship Contest. Failure to comply with this condition will result in the Committee ruling that Mr. Ramirez is uninterested and/or unavailable to participate against Paro “Ipso Facto”, and with the Committee proceeding in selecting the next available contender in the Jr. Welterweight Division.”
While a Paro-Ramirez bout would be an attractive eliminator, there remains extreme doubt of such a fight moving forward. Ramirez and Barboza are both managed by Rick Mirigian and promoted by Top Rank.
The next highest ranked contender after Ramirez is Shohjahon Ergashev (23-0, 20KOs), who so far has unsuccessfully failed to secure an opponent for a proposed IBF junior welterweight title eliminator.
The winner of the eventually decided eliminator will become the mandatory challenger to the WBO 140-pound crown held by Scotland’s Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs), who next defends versus former unified 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.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox