Marlen Esparza and Gabriela Alaniz are back on the clock.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBO has re-ordered the flyweight rematch that was previously parked from earlier this summer. Esparza is once again required to honor her mandatory after it was learned that previous plans fell through for a targeted undisputed championship clash versus IBF titlist Gabriel Fundora.
“The WBO was informed by the parties, that an agreement was reached to allow the unification championship bout between Marlen Esparza and Gabriela Fundora to determine the first-ever female Undisputed champion in the Flyweight division,” Luis Batista-Salas stated to Eric Gomez and Georgina Rivero, promoters for Esparza and Alaniz, respectively, on Tuesday in an official letter obtained by Boxing Scene. “The agreement was subject to the winner facing Gabriela Alaniz. Notwithstanding the foregoing, on December 11, 2023, the WBO was advised that the Esparza/Fundora camps were unable to reach terms.
“Therefore, as a result thereof, this Committee hereby orders Team Esparza/ Team Alaniz to commence negotiations immediately per the conditions set forth in the “Resolution” referenced herein. The parties have a final 5-day term to reach an agreement or purse bid proceedings will be called in accordance with WBO Regulations.”
The updated ruling gives both parties until the end of the week to reach terms and avoid a purse bid hearing. Given the history and numerous delays in this process, it is highly doubtful any more extensions will be granted to either side.
Houston’s Esparza edged Argentina’s Alaniz in their entertaining first battle on July 8 in San Antonio, Texas. Alaniz entered the bout as the unbeaten WBO titlist and was considered unlucky by many to not add the lineal, WBC and WBA titles to her collection. Esparza won an unpopular majority decision to further unify the flyweight division.
An appeal filed by Alaniz through Rivero’s O.R. Promotions prompted a review of the fight, from which the WBO agreed that the protest was grounds for an immediate rematch. The two were ordered to enter talks in August, only for Golden Boy to request two separate delays which were granted by the sanctioning body.
The fight was due to for a September 1 purse bid hearing which was canceled upon the suggestion to the WBO that Esparza (12-1, 1KO) was due to face the winner of the October 20 IBF title fight between Fundora and defending titlist Arely Mucino. Fundora won the bout via fifth-round knockout and immediately entered talks to fully unify the division.
A report from ESPN.com erroneously stated that a deal was reached for the bout to take place on January 6 in Las Vegas. As previously reported by Boxing Scene, the two sides were far along in talks but not quite at the finish line.
Somewhere along the way, the fight fell apart and Esparza is now on the hook to revisit old business.
Esparza–a 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist—claimed the WBC belt in a June 2021 points win over Ibeth Zamora in El Paso, Texas. Four successful defenses have followed, including wins in unification bouts over Alaniz in July for the WBO belt and legendary five-division titlist Naoko Fujioka who lost her WBA belt to Esparza last April 9 at Alamodome in San Antonio.
Alaniz (14-1, 6KOs) has not fought since her narrow defeat to Esparza.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox