Late last night the WBA announced a Featherweight world title eliminator between Japan's Hiroshige Osawa (36-5-4, 21) [大沢宏晋] and Dominican fighter Hector Luis Garcia (12-0-0-2, 9).
The two men are ranked #1 and #2 by the WBA and have been given 30 days, from March 10th, to negotiate an agreement for the bout, or else a purse bid will be ordered. The two men also need to tell the WBA that they intend to pursue the bout in the next 5 days. If a fighter doesn't respond within that that time the WBA will follow their rules to decide what to do next.
Neither of the two men is that well known away from their local fans but both are worthy of discussing, at least a tiny bit.
Osawa is best known for his 2016 loss to Oscar Valdez in a WBA world title fight. Since then he has gone 6-1 and has maintained a high WBA ranking. The 28 year old Garcia on the other hand is best known for this 2019 win over Anvar Yunusov, but will be regarded as the man stepping up in class here. Prior to turning professional he had been a notable amateur winning silver medals at a number of regional competitions and fighting at the 2016 Olympics.
The winner of this would become the mandatory for popular Chinese world champion Can Xu (18-2, 3) [徐灿].
It's fair to say that 2019 was a monster year for Chinese fighter Can Xu (18-2, 3) [徐灿], the current WBA Featherweight champion. The hope is, of course, for him to have a massive 2020 as well.
Earlier this week it was reported that Xu and his team have had to change plans, in at least 2 different ways.
Firstly he and the M23 team had planned to train under Filipino coaches. The coaches returned home for the Chinese new year but due the escalating outbreak of Coronavirus they were unable to re-enter China. The Chinese fighters had then planned to go to the Philippines to train with the same coaches, however a travel ban by the Philippines prevented that from happening.
Instead of staying in China to train the team, or rather those with passports, have changed their plans and are now training in Thailand. Those that did travel included not only Xu but also Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (16-3-1, 6) [拜山波] and recent world title challenger Wulan Tuolehazi (13-4-1, 6) [乌兰].
It's not only been the training plans that have had to change but also plans regarding Xu's next title defense. It appears the original plan had been for a defense in China in April, however issues with Coronavirus appear to have ended that plan.
It's now unclear whether Xu will reschedule a bout in China for his next defense or will head back over to the US for it, with the bout said to be dependent on the development of the epidemic in China.
Given that there are various travels bans, it appears that Xu will be in Thailand until later in the month, waiting out a 14 day window. It then seems like the plans is form him to head off to the US to train in Miami, under Pedro Diaz, to further prepare for his next defense, when and where that takes place.
(Image courtesy of www.mppboxing.com/)
We're sure that everyone reading this will be aware that there is a series medical issue in Wuhan, where Coronavirus has become an epidemic, and one that has spread around the globe.
From a human perspective the issue is massive, and much more serious than many first expected, and has taken almost 200 lives as we write this. It's spread across China, and is proving to be incredibly contagious with over 7,700 confirmed cases in China alone.
This past week Chinese sources reported that there was at least, some positive stories coming out of the situation with Chinese world champion Can Xu (18-2, 3) [徐灿], the current WBA Featherweight champion, donating ¥200,000.
The world champion explained that his donation was, at least in part, due to his own connection to the region.
"My mother is from Hubei. I grew up in Hubei. I have lived in Hubei for more than ten years. I can still be regarded as half of Hubei. I saw that my hometown was suffering such a calamity, and I saw medical staff. Risking my life to fight in the front line, I don’t know how to prepare for urgently needed supplies, and my ability is limited, but I still hope to donate 200,000 yuan to contribute to the fight against the epidemic. I also call on everyone to actively fight against Wuhan New Crown Pneumonia Donate. Come on in Wuhan, people in our hometown, we are together. "
For those unaware, Wuhan is the capital of the Hubei province in China, the area that Xu mentioned in his social media post on Chinese social network Weibo.
Boxing in China has been on the growth in recent years, and we've seen regular shows in the country, though the talent on some of those cards has been rather mixed, with very few fighters truly standing out. Thankfully for the Chinese scene however one fighter managed to really make a statement in 2019, and was quite clearly the Revelation of the Year. That was Chinese Featherweight Can Xu, who really ended the year as a must watch fighter.
Can made his US debut in September 2018 and did little to impress, scraping an 8 round split decision over Mexican journeyman Enrique Bernache. A single round swing on Patracia Morse Jarman's card and there's a real chance that we wouldn't be talking about Xu today. As it though his fortune has paid off, and 2019 has seen him put that Bernache bout behind him in style.
In February Xu made a real statement statement, out fighting the hard hitting Jesus M Rojas to claim the WBA "regular" Featherweight title. The result was an upset win for Xu who has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Following his world title win Xu returned to China and scored his first defense in front of fans in his place of birth in a true home coming defense, against former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo. The fight, like his title win, was a hugely entertaining win and although Kubo was out of his depth Xu still put on a show, out working and then breaking down and stopping the Japanese challenger.
That would have been enough to have sealed Xu this award, but he wasn't done yet and in November he returned to a US ring to take on unbeaten American challenger Manny Robles III. This looked a tough test for the champion but turned out to be an easy win for Xu who totally dominated Robles, and set an incredibly pace, with punch numbers suggesting he had thrown over 1500 punches in the 12 round bout. What was supposed to be a tough second defense against an unbeaten challenger turned out to be little more than a showcase for Xu.
With 3 solid wins, 3 eye catching and exciting performances, a charming personality, Can Xu was clearly the break out fighter of 2019!
Later today we'll Chinese "Monster" Can Xu (17-2, 3) [徐灿] defending his WBA Featherweight title for the second time, as he takes on the unbeaten Manny Robles III (18-0, 8).
The bout will be Xu's third bout in the US and will see him try to close out a brilliant yea, whilst Robles will be getting his first world title fight, in what looks like a very, very interesting match up on paper. The exciting Chinese warrior for the unbeaten American.
Interestingly the odds for this bout make Xu a clear favourite, with bookies pricing him at 4/11 to win the bout and retain his title. Robles is 5/2 to win and become the new champion. The draw on the other hand is 20/1.
The method of victory market here is an interesting one. Xu by decision is best priced at 6/5 whilst a stoppage by Xu is 5/2, Robles by decision is available at 15/4 and 8/1 to win by stoppage!
With neither man likely to score a stoppage the bout is 8/15 to go the distance and 7/4 to end early.
(All odds accurate at the time of writing)
Related - Xu returns to US to face unbeaten challenger Robles!
(Image courtesy of Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / Golden Boy)
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