At the end of last week French sources finally broke the news that unbeaten Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (14-0, 11) has signed to fight unbeaten Thai Petch Sor Chitpattana (46-0, 31) [เพชร ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] for the vacant title, with their bout set to take place on June 23rd in Paris, in a card which will also feature 2016 Olympic Champion Tony Yoka (4-0, 3).
At the moment not all the details have been released, such as TV deals the like, but bout does appear to have been fully agreed and the camps will be well under way with their preparations for the bouts, given it's now set to take place in about 7 weeks.
For Oubaali the bout will see the 31 year old look to build on a 5 fight stoppage run which has included victories over Julio Cesar Miranda, Alejandro Hernandez, Mark Anthony Geraldo and Luis Melendez. The 2-time Olympian, who competed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, has only been a professional for 4 years but has been matched aggressively, and has won a number of titles, including the French national title as well as the WBC Silver Bantamweight title.
As for the Thai, who is just 24 years old despite having already notched 46 bouts, the bout will be a huge step up in class. Having been a professional since March 2011 Petch is highly experienced, but like many Thai's has a record lacking in quality. To date his best wins are probably his victories over Jeson Umbal, Eugene Lagos and Jestoni Autida. None of whom were ever going to prepare him for a world title fight.
Whilst we don't get many Thai Vs France bouts at world level it is worth noting that the 2006 bout between Mahyar Monshipour, who was a French-Iranian, and Somsak Sithchatchawal is still one of the best fights of the 21st century and is well worth a watch, having been regarded as the 2006 Fight of the Year by ESPN, Ring Magazine and the BWAA. IF Petch Vs Oubaali is half as good as that it will be in the mix for the best bout of 2018.