The winner of the Josh Taylor-Teofimo Lopez title fight has one less option to worry about for the time being.
Back-to-back failed efforts by the World Boxing Organization to produce a sanctioned junior welterweight title eliminator has prompted the sanctioning body to momentarily abandon the process. The latest effort saw Australia’s Liam Paro bail on negotiations for an ordered fight versus former WBO/WBC titlist Jose Ramirez to instead challenge WBC 140-pound title claimant Regis Prograis (28-1, 24KOs).
With two fights falling by the wayside in less than a month, a decision was reached to regroup and come up with a better course of action.
“[H]aving the time period elapsed without no interest from the parties, this Committee believes that the best course of action in the Jr. Welterweight Division is terminating, effective immediately the referenced negotiation order,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas informed the teams for both boxers in a letter obtained by BoxingScene.com.
“In due course and when deemed appropriate, the Committee will convene and render the corresponding ruling pertaining to the Jr. Welterweight Division pursuant to WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.
“Therefore, for the above reasons, the Paro/Ramirez negotiation order is hereby terminated, effective immediately.”
Paro (23-0, 14KOs) was previously ordered to face Arnold Barboza in a title eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger for the WBO 140-pound title held by Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13KOs).
The matter went to a purse bid hearing, won by Matchroom Boxing—Paro’s promoter—with a bid of $303,000 to outpace Top Rank ($271,000) who promotes Barboza. Paro was due 60 percent of the winning amount, while Barboza—who is based in the greater Los Angeles area—would have earned just 40 percent since the fight was due to take place in his home country.
Top Rank informed the WBO that Barboza would no longer proceed with the fight, which prompted the sanctioning body to go down the list of available challengers to face Paro. It led to Ramirez (28-1, 18KOs), who—like Barboza—is promoted by Top Rank and managed by Rick Mirigian.
Paro-Ramirez was ordered on May 3 and given a tight five-day negotiation window before the WBO would send the matter to a purse bid. Paro’s team called an audible and instead immediately agreed to face Prograis upon the 34-year-old recently entering a three-fight promotional deal with Matchroom.
Prograis-Paro will take place June 17 on DAZN from the Smoothie King Center in Prograis’ childhood hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. The bout will take place one week after Taylor attempts to defend the WBO and lineal championship versus Lopez (17-1, 13KOs) atop a June 10 ESPN show from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.
The next steps for Ramirez—and for Barboza—are not immediately known, given the WBO’s decision to temporarily halt the title eliminator process in lieu of ordering any more bouts than necessary. The delay means that the Taylor-Lopez winner could be afforded a voluntary title defense for their next fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox