Roger Gutierrez will enjoy regional advantage for his next title fight.
The reigning WBA junior lightweight titlist will next face mandatory challenger Hector Garcia atop a show that will stream live on the WBA’s YouTube channel on July 10—a Sunday—at Poliedro de Caracas in Caracas, Venezuela. The scheduled 12-round bout is part of the sanctioning body’s KO Drugs festival and confirmed during a press conference held Wednesday afternoon on site.
“It is a dream come true to defend my title in my country, in my land, with my people,” said Gutierrez, who hails from Maracaibo—roughly nine hours west of Caracas. “I want to thank the authorities of Caracas for this effort.
“God willing, I hope to give everyone who comes to see us that day a great joy, defending my world title for the second time.”
Gutierrez claimed the secondary WBA belt in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Rene Alvarado in their thrilling rematch last January 2 in Dallas, Texas. The feat—which saw Gutierrez score three knockdowns, including one in the 12th round to secure the win—avenged a stoppage loss to Alvarado in July 2017.
The lone successful title defense came in a repeat win over Alvarado, a wider decision though less entertaining in their rubber match last August 14 in Frisco, Texas, mere miles from where he won the title.
Gutierrez was then due to next face interim WBA titlist Chris Colbert, which was ordered at the start of the WBA’s title reduction campaign last August—one day after Gutierrez’s repeat win over Alvarado. Colbert’s interim title, along with all interim WBA belts were subsequently removed from circulation during talks, though he retained the benefits that previously came with the distinction.
Terms were reached, a pleasant surprise given the politics involved—Gutierrez fights for Golden Boy Promotions, while Colbert was represented by TGB Promotions on behalf of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC). The two sides came to an agreement, though there was a brief delay before scheduling the fight atop a February 26 Showtime telecast, only for Gutierrez to test positive for Covid in forcing his withdrawal.
Gutierrez was replaced on short notice by Dominican Republic’s Garcia (15-0, 10KOs), who manhandled the previously unbeaten Colbert to snatch his “O” and his mandatory contender spot.
Talks remained ongoing between Gutierrez and Garcia, before agreeing to take the fight to Venezuela as part of the charitable event regularly hosted by the WBA.
“We are here not only to support the realization of a boxing program, but to accompany and promote the systematic development of boxing with an ambitious program that we have designed in the WBA and which has been very well received by the Government of this country,” stated Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, longtime WBA president. “We are pleased to know that the world program Drugs KO, which was born in Aragua, will have the full support of the State, expanding the scope of this program of ours that we have projected in several countries around the world.”
Garcia will fight outside of his native Dominican Republic for the third straight time. The undefeated 30-year-old southpaw has fought twice in a row in the U.S. heading into his first career title fight.
Gutierrez last fought in his home country in October 2019, as part of his current seven fight win streak.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox