Cherneka Johnson will drop back down in weight in a bid to become a two-division titlist.
BoxingScene.com has learned that plans are in place for Melbourne’s Johnson to challenge WBA bantamweight titleholder Nina Hughes. The bout is expected to be announced as part of a May 12 title fight tripleheader on ESPN from RAC Arena Perth, Australia. The show’s headliner was already confirmed earlier this week, as former champs George Kambosos (21-2, 10KOs) and Vasiliy Lomachenko will meet for the vacant IBF lightweight belt.
The timing of the fight makes sense. England’s Hughes recently signed with Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella, whose DiBella Entertainment company also has Johnson under contract.
Fittingly, their paths have previously crossed although unaware at the time that it would lead to a head-on collision in their very next fight. Both boxers appeared on the Sunny Edwards-Andres Campos undercard last June 10 at OVO Arena Wembley in London, though with drastically different results.
Hughes (6-0, 2KOs) turned away the challenge of unbeaten Katie Healy over ten rounds to defend her WBA bantamweight title for the first time. The win was her third over an undefeated opponent in the span of her last four fights. The 41-year-old married mother of two from Billericay, Essex defeated Jamie Mitchell in November 2022 to win the WBA bantamweight title in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Johnson (15-2, 6KOs) saw her title reign end on the June 10 show. The 28-year-old—better known as ‘Sugar Neeks’—fell short to the supremely talented Ellie Scotney over ten rounds to lose her IBF junior featherweight title.
Johnson previously won the belt in an April 2022 ten-round majority decision victory over Melissa Esquivel in her Melbourne hometown. Her lone successful defense also came in her hometown, in an October 2022 win over Susie Ramadan. The win came on the undercard of the Devin Haney-George Kambosos undisputed lightweight championship from Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Neither Hughes nor Johnson have fought since their separate appearances on the June 10 show in London.
Johnson last fought at bantamweight in a March 2021 split decision defeat to Shannon O’Connell in Bendigo, Australia.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox