Jose Zepeda and Regis Prograis still await a confirmed date and location for their upcoming vacant WBC junior welterweight title fight.
For now, the promotional company of record has done its part to retain the rights to the terrific matchup.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that MarvNation Promotions has satisfied the initial terms of the WBC purse bid requirements after providing the sanctioning body with a ten-percent deposit of its winning bid. The Southern California-headquartered promotional outfit secured the rights to Zepeda-Prograis after submitting a $2,400,000 offer during an August 30 purse bid hearing for the ordered vacant WBC 140-pound title fight, $240,000 of which is now placed in escrow in compliance with the ten-day window to deposit funds.
“Marvnation Promotions was required to: “within ten (10) calendar days after the purse offer ceremony, deposit with the WBC ten percent (10%) of the total amount of the winner offer,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman stated of the development. “The WBC must receive $240,000 dollars no later than September 9, 2022.
“Consistent with the requirements of that letter, and in compliance with Rule 2.18 of the WBC Purse Offer Procedures of the WBC Rules and Regulations, the WBC hereby acknowledges timely receipt of the 10% deposit from MarvNation Promotions (Mr. Marvin Rodriguez).”
The bid more than doubled the offers from three far more notable entities—TGB Promotions ($1,260,000), Probellum ($1,006,000) and Zanfer Boxing ($1,000,450)—in a stunning development. Questions immediately surfaced of how a generally club-level promoter can sufficiently fund such an event, though founder Marvin Rodriguez has taken the first necessary step to silence such doubters.
Zanfer is the lead promoter for Zepeda, while Prograis fights under the Probellum banner. MarvNation does not have any direct ties to either fighter, though has previously worked with Probellum as recent as late spring on shows in Costa Rica.
The latest development in this fight comes one day after MarvNation served as on-site co-promoter with Golden Boy Promotions for Thursday’s Golden Boy Fight Night on DAZN from San Jose, Costa Rica. The show was headlined by the biggest star on MarvNation’s roster, now unified IBF/WBO strawweight titlist Yokasta Valle (26-2, 9KOs) who earned a ten-round shutout over exiting WBO titleholder Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-1, 1KO) in the first-ever unification bout on Costa Rican soil.
The staging of the Zepeda-Prograis fight will mark the company’s most significant investment. Tentative plans call for the fight to take place later this fall either in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, likely on an independent Pay-Per-View show.
Per purse bid rules, Zepeda and Prograis will evenly split 90 percent of the winning bid, guaranteeing a payday of $1,080,000 for each fighter. The remaining ten percent of the winning bid—$240,000—will be placed in escrow as a win bonus.
A purse bid was ordered after a 30-day negotiation period expired without the two sides able to come to terms for what was the second fight ordered to crown a new WBC 140-pound titlist. Zepeda was previously due to meet former WBC/WBO titlist Jose Ramirez, who bowed out of the process due to family conflict which will leave him out of the ring for the remainder of the year.
The belt became vacant on July 1, when Scotland’s Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) relinquished the crown in lieu of a mandatory title defense against California’s Zepeda (35-2, 27KOs). Taylor fully unified the division following a 12-round win over Ramirez in their undisputed championship last May 22 in Las Vegas, but has fought just once since then—a disputed split decision win over Jack Catterall on February 26 in Glasgow.
Taylor is now down to just the WBO title, having vacated the WBA, WBC and IBF belts, in that order. The WBC vacancy came after dragging out talks with Zepeda and calling for multiple purse bid delays which left Zepeda waiting nearly three months before having to enter a fresh round of talks with the next highest available contender.
Zepeda earned his way back to the mandatory challenger position during his current six-fight unbeaten streak. His ascension to the top contender spot came after surviving four knockdowns to score four of his own in a sixth-round knockout of Ivan Baranchyk in October 2020, prevailing in the universal pick for 2020 Fight of the Year.
Two more wins have followed, including a first-round knockout of Josue Vargas last October 30 in New York City and a stay-busy affair in March before heading into talks with Taylor. It proved to be a giant waste of time for all involved, as Taylor ultimately gave up the belt.
Prograis (27-1, 23KOs) was the number-three contender, reaching that point after scoring a sixth-round knockout of Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna in March. The former WBA titlist from the greater Houston area by way of New Orleans was also in the hunt for the vacant WBA title, only to lose out on the opportunity as Dominican Republic’s Puello (20-0, 10KOs) will now face Batyr Akhmedov on August 20.
All was not lost for Prograis, who prior to Sunday was by far the best junior welterweight in the world to not be in the title mix.
That changed with Ramirez’s graceful exit from the ordered WBC fight, as the 33-year-old southpaw has a chance to become a two-time titlist. He previously held the WBA title, claiming the belt in a sixth-round knockout of Kiryl Relilkh in April 2019 during the semifinal round of the World Boxing Super Series 140-pound tournament. Prograis lost the belt to Taylor via majority decision in their October 2019 WBSS final in London, having since won three straight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox