An all-Boricua title fight is on the horizon.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBO has ordered a junior flyweight title consolidation bout between full champ Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez and recently crowned interim titlist Rene Santiago. The bout was anticipated by both parties and seemed to be in a place to begin talks even before receiving such instructions.
“The WBO World Championships Committee orders the start of negotiations for the reference combat according to the conditions imposed in the “Resolution” issued by this committee on October 24,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis-Batista Salas informed both camps on Wednesday in a ruling obtained by Boxing Scene. “Accordingly, the parties are granted 30 days from the notification of this order to negotiate and reach an agreement.
“If an agreement is not reached within the term provided, the Committee will order the holding of an auction in accordance with the rules of world championships of the WBO.”
The pair of Puerto Rican junior flyweights are both promoted by All-Star Boxing, Inc. Gonzalez is additionally represented by his new manager, seven-division titlist and reigning undisputed featherweight queen Amanda Serrano.
The fight was essentially put into play once Santiago (12-3, 9KOs)—a resurgent 31-year-old contender from Humacao—claimed the interim title in a 12th round knockout of previously unbeaten Kevin Vivas on the road in Managua, Nicaragua. Their October 27 clash was elevated to the main event and stakes raised after Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14KOs) fell ill during fight week and was unable to proceed with a voluntary title defense versus Gerardo Zapata.
It marked the second time this year that Gonzalez was forced to withdraw from a fight due to illness. The prior occasion cost him the attempted opportunity to further unify versus lineal/WBC/WBA champ Kenshiro Teraji, whom Gonzalez was due to face on April 8 in Japan.
All told, it has left the 32-year-old southpaw out of the ring since a twelve-round decision win over unbeaten mandatory challenger Shokichi Iwata last November 1 on the road in Saitama, Japan.
Gonzalez won the WBO 108-pound title in an October 2021 points victory over Mexicali’s Elwin Soto. He has made just two successful defenses and will enter his next fight having not fought in well over a year.
Santiago has won three straight to position himself into title contention for the first time in his eleven-year pro career.
Should the two sides fail to reach terms within the 30-day deadline, the bout will head to a purse bid hearing. The minimum bid is $80,000 for WBO-sanctioned title fights at that weight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox