Earlier this month news broke that Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) was being eyed as the next challenger for WBC Bantamweight champion Nodine Oubaali (17-0, 12), with a bout pencilled in for March 13th in Paris. Now, however, reports from Thailand are that that bout is almost certainly off, due to the on going Pandemic.
Reportedly the bout was ruled out on Friday due to a number of problems, stemming from Covid19, and France's response to the pandemic, which would have made travel for Nawaphon pretty much impossible, and an issue with the TV channel that were planning to air the bout.
Interestingly the Thai's now report that the plan for Oubaali may be to defend his title against mandatory challenger Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26), in a bout that was scheduled for last December before Oubaali was forced to pull out due to being infected with Covid19. Though as of now no date or venue is being reported for that one.
The entire WBC mess at Bantamweight is a bit of a joke at the moment, and could well take until 2022 to tidy up. Not only due to the mandated bout between Oubaali Vs Donaire bout but also due to their "interim" title situation, with the WBC ordering a rematch between "interim" champion Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 21) and former IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2, 12), who ended up clashing in December with Gaballo taking a hotly debated decision over Rodriguez.
Yesterday Jake Donovan, in an article here on Boxingscene, revealed that Thailand's Nawaphon Por Chokchai (50-1-1, 40) may be set for a world title fight against WBC Bantamweight champion Nodine Oubaali (17-0, 12).
The bout has been scheduled to take place in Paris on March 13th, though there are various stumbling blocks to over-come. Something that isn't new when it comes to this particular title and Oubaali's reign.
Oubaali won the title in 2019, when he beat Rau'shee Warren for the vacant title. That bout that was delayed several times, causing there WBC to create an interim title whilst having a vacant full title, with Takuma Inoue [井上拓真] claiming the interim title in 2018. The titles would then be unified in late 2019, with Oubaali recording his second defense.
A planned eliminator to find Oubaali's mandatory was cancelled when Luis Nery failed to make weight, for a bout with Emanuel Rodriguez, with the WBC then electing to make Nonito Donaire the mandatory challenger, off the back of his loss to Naoya Inoue [井上 尚弥] in the WBSS final.
A bout between Oubaali and Donaire was set for last year, and then cancelled when Oubaali contracted Covid19. That saw Oubaali being made champion in recess and the WBC agreeing to a Donaire Vs Rodriguez bout for the title. Donaire then tested positive for Covid19 himself, in what is seeming a false positive, leading the WBC allowing Rodriguez to face Reymart Gaballo for the "interim" title. Unsurprisigly given the history of this title recently, that ended up with a controversial win, going in favour of Gaballo.
With Gaballo and Rodriguez now ordered to fight again, and Oubaali being given permission for an interim fight, he has seemingly decided to face the Thai veteran, and was previously linked to a bout with Yanga Sigqibo.
Of course the world we live in right now isn't what we lived in 2019 and there are still hurdles to get over for this bout to get over the line. These include Nawaphon being able to travel to France in time for the bout. Typically this wouldn't be a problem, but France recently closed their borders to those outside of the European Space, unless you have an "imperative reason", and those within the European space will need a negative PCR test within 72 hours to enter France. It's currently unclear whether Nawaphon would be able to enter France for the bout.
If the bout does go ahead it will be Oubaali's third defense since winning the title in January 2019, and it will be Nawaphon's second shot at a title, previously losing to Juan Hernandez in a WBC Flyweight title bout.
Since his loss Nawaphon has won 14 in a row, including some decent wins against Amnat Ruenroeng, Richard Calveras, Sonny Boy Jaro and Ryan Lumacad, which are pretty much his best career wins. Sadly however a bout with Oubaali would still be a huge step up in class for him.
Back in December we saw a mess being created around WBC Bantamweight title as circumstancs came to result in several messes at once.
Firstly there was positive Covid19 test for Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12) in November, scuppering a scheduled mandatory title defense with Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26). Oubaali was then designated the WBC "champion in recess" with Donaire then scheduled to face a different opponent for the full world title title.
That was before Donaire himself tested positive for Covid19, in what now seems to have been a false positive. That meant Donaire was out of the bout.
Following Donaire's positive test he was replaced by fellow Filipino Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 21) who defeated former IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-2, 12), in highly debated fashion, to claim the WBC "interim" title. A title that was created due to Donaire needing to pull out.
Earlier this year the WBC re-assessed Oubaali's "Champion in recess" status, and designated him as the normal champion, giving him back the status he had before his positive test. He will now be allowed to make a voluntary defense, which seems likely to be in March, before taking on Donaire later in 2021.
Today the WBC have now confirmed the future of their interim champion, announcing that Gaballo has been ordered to rematch Rodriguez, due to the controversial result in their December bout.
The WBC explained that "After a formal appeal was received by the WBC a committee of ring officials completed a thorough analysis and review of the match, resulting in the order of free negotiations for an immediate rematch between Gaballo and Rodríguez."
We suspect the plan, longer term, is that the winner of Oubaali, his March opponent and Donaire, will take on the winner of Gaballo Vs Rodriguez II down the line. Though that is quite some way off for now.
By: Sanman Boxing
Reymart Gaballo (now 24-0) is world champion once again after beating former world champion Emmanuel Rordriguez (19-2) bagging the WBC Interim World Bantamweight Title. It was a close fight but the Filipino’s work rate and aggression sealed him the decision win.
Both warriors fought at a moderate pace from the opening bells but it Gaballo who risked throwing more bombs at the more experienced Puerto Rican. Rodriguez appeared accurate but was clearly avoiding getting hurt by Gaballo’s power especially after his nose was broken from a clean punch. He was more elusive and safe rather than giving everything to win.
The whole story of the fight was Gaballo’s greater activity and aggression versus Rodriguez’s cleaner punching. In championship bouts, aggressive and busier fighters appear hungrier to wrestle the prize. Most of the judges appreciated effort and busier work-rate of Gaballo over the play-safe strategy and cleaner punches of Rodriguez.
With this meaningful victory, Gaballo’s dream of becoming a full fledged world champion is within reach as he contends for the regular WBC belt held by Nordine Oubaali.
Later today we'll see a brilliant match up on Showtime as unbeaten Filipino Reymart Gaballo (23-0, 20) faces former IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12) in a bout for the interim WBC Bantamweight title.
Yesterday ahead of their bout, the two men took part in their weigh in and both men came in comfortably under the 118lb Bantamweight limit. In fact both men hit the scales at an identical 117.6lbs.
On the scales both men looked in great shape and really up for the bout.
For Gaballo this is, by far, the biggest fight of his career. Despite the huge step up in class many are tipping the somewhat unknown Filipino, who's best win to date was a decision victory over Stephon Young.
As for Rodriguez the bout comes after well over a year since his last bout, a 2nd round TKO loss against Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue in the WBSS semi-final. Given the lengthy lay off, and various issues that have slowed his career down since then, we do wonder what he's going to look like in the ring.
Related - Gaballo gets chance to shine as he takes on Rodriguez for WBC "interim" title (Preview)
(Photo - Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME)
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