WBO No. 3 rated super featherweight contender Jeremiah Nakathila and his team have been highly disappointed over the recent news by the World Boxing Organization regarding the updated mandatory situation in the 130-pound division.
As it appeared on BoxingScene.com last week, the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body named former featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson as the next mandatory challenger of reigning belt holder Jamel Herring based on one of its rules that gives permission to champions to challenge fellow titleholders in other categories automatically.
Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, has been the second straight former featherweight champion who got ahead of Nakathila (19-1, 15 KOs) on the ranks in the past 12 months. The other was former two-division belt holder and current WBO No. 2 ranked Oscar Valdez, who later decided to choose the WBC line to please his championship ambitions and will get back to the ring against tough gatekeeper Jayson Velez this Tuesday in The Bubble in Las Vegas.
Stevenson made sure he wants a crack at the WBO title as soon as possible.
“We learned through the media that Stevenson has now been declared mandatory challenger and we thought it was still Valdez. [What we know for sure is that] Herring first need to do his voluntary [defense] and then only his mandatory,” said Nestor Tobias, Nakathila’s promoter, to BoxingScene.com.
What makes the situation even more complicated is the return of champion Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) is currently unclear after the American fighter tested positive for coronavirus multiple times and thus missed out on his voluntary defense against Jonathan Oquendo on back-to-back occasions in June and July.
“It is unfortunate, I was looking forward to Herring getting his voluntary title defense out of the way so we can finalize the mandatories and I can get my well-deserved title shot. Then COVID-19 came and looks like I will have to wait a little longer,” stated Nakathila.
Question is how long that wait should be. When Herring can get a green light by doctors and prepare himself to his voluntary defense? And who would be his opponent in such fight? According to a recent interview with promoter Bob Arum, Herring is planned to get matched against former multi-division world champion Carl Frampton in the fall, another bout that is long in the waiting.
That would push the mandatory fight to the spring of 2021. By that time, Nakathila would sit as a top contender by the WBO for over three years without getting any closer to fulfill his dream of a world title fight.
“With the current situation, we think it would be best given the circumstances to allow Nakathila vs Stevenson, and whoever wins that one becomes mandatory. If [Stevenson] claims to be as good as he says he is, let him fight Nakathila,” describes the Namibian promoter.
Truth be told, even Stevenson could find himself out in the cold by this strange schedule by the WBO, meanwhile, in the event of Herring getting beaten on his comeback in the fall, his successor would have the right to start his reign with another voluntary defense. This all seems to validate the idea of an eventual elimination between Stevenson and Nakathila as soon as this fall.
“Either the interim title or an eliminator fight [could be ideal] and so that the winner gets to Herring. That would be fair in our view and we are ready to fight Stevenson because we know we can beat him because we have a champion in the making in Nakathila.”
The hard-hitting Namibian contender does not have a problem for a switch of opponents as long as it brings him closer to become a champion.
“I can take on Stevenson anytime and any day, he might be much younger but definitely not more talented and powerful than me.”
Team Nakathila have been waiting for an official reply by the WBO and hoping their fighter finally gets justice for years of serving the organization.
You can reach Tamas Pradarics at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TomiPradarics.