A few weeks ago we reported that WBO Light Flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (34-1-4, 20) would be making a stay busy defence of his title on March 28th against Luis Ceja (26-5-3, 21). At the time the fight was agreed and it appeared to suit everyone, including the WBO and the WBO #1 ranked contender Francisco Rodriguez Jr (17-2-1, 11), who actually fought a day after our article.
Since then things have changed and it appears that the WBO are no longer happy for Nietes to face Ceja and have subsequently ordered Nietes and Rodriguez to rush into negotiations for a mandatory bout.
We believe the original plan was for Nietes to fight Ceja and then return to the ring in summer for a blockbuster bout with Rodriguez Jr, a former unified champion at Minimumweight. That bout would come around a 13 or 14 months after Nietes's last mandatory defense, his rematch with the then WBO interim champion Moises Fuentes and would have been Nietes's 4th defense in a little more than a year. For whatever reason, be it a mistake or an over-sight by ALA or the WBO bending their own rules or even a complaint by Zanfer, it seems like those plans may need to change.
At the moment it's not known if the WBO will relent on what appears to be a frankly ridiculous order, especially considering it's a given that the two men DO want to fight, or whether Rodriguez will be happy to face Nietes on March 28th, effectively taking the role of Ceja at short notice. If not then there needs to be serious questions asked about the WBO and their mandatory orders, and not for the first time.
For those with a good memory the WBO did, earlier this year, also order a Super Flyweight mandatory title fight between the unbeaten Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7) and McJoe Arroyo (16-0, 8) before later cancelling the order and dropping Arroyo from #1 to #5 in a move that saw the WBO back down quickly. We wonder if the same will apply here. If they do then the WBO risk becoming a laughing stock, if they don't then they may risk irking ALA gym who have many of the top Filipino prospects and contender in the lower weight divisions.
Whatever the outcome here we're just hoping the WBO will start to talk to the promoters involved in bouts as it appears communications are failing somewhere along the line and they running the risk of irritating fighters, promoters, fans, venues and the boxing media, all of whom will turn on the organisation if these issues keep arising.
(Image courtesy of the WBO)
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