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Oscar Valdez-Liam Wilson Approved For Interim WBO Title

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Oscar Valdez still must win the fight in front of him this weekend.

With a victory, though, comes a clearer path to a third major title reign.

Top Rank was granted approval by the WBO to sanction Valdez’s bout versus Australia’s Liam Wilson as an interim title fight. Their already-scheduled 130-pound showdown takes place this Friday on ESPN+ from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

“Please be advised that the WBO World Championship Committee hereby grants sanction approval for the

subject matter bout,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas stated in an official ruling.

The terms are conditional, as is the case with any interim WBO title fight.

Emanuel Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 knockouts), No. 1 at 130, holds the full version of the WBO 130-pound title. The three-division titlist next faces Denys Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs), No. 10 at 135, for the vacant WBO 135-pound belt.

Per the ruling, Navarrete—with a win—will have to commit to either 130 or 135 for his next outing. WBO rules forbid simultaneous title status in two or more divisions.

Should Navarrete return to 130, he will have 120 days from May 18 to defend versus the Valdez-Wilson winner. If he beats Berinchyk and stays at 135, then whomever prevails this weekend will be promoted to full WBO 130-pound titleholder.

The approval comes just two months after the WBO previously rejected a similar request for another proposed fight.

Talks were in place for Albert Bell (26-0, 9 KOs), No. 9 at 130, and Archie Sharp (24-0, 9 KOs) to meet this spring. Disrupt Promotions, Sharp’s mysterious promoter, pleaded with the WBO to sanction the fight.

The motion was denied by the sanctioning body, who cited Navarrete’s “Super Champion” status which extended his mandatory title defense period. It was claimed that his next mandatory was not due until February 2025.

That stance has significantly softened in recent days.

Navarrete holds wins over Valdez and Wilson, both of which took place in this very venue.

Valdez (31-2, 23 KOs), No. 7 at 130, dropped a unanimous decision in their all-Mexico battle last August 12. The two-time Mexican Olympian and former two-division titlist has not fought since that night. He previously held the WBO 126-pound and WBC 130-pound titles.

Wilson (13-2, 7 KOs) knocked down and nearly upset Navarrete last February 3 in their memorable slugfest. The visiting Wilson replaced an injured Valdez for what was his U.S. debut. Navarrete suffered his first career knockdown in the fourth round but rallied to drop and stop Wilson in the ninth-round.

Two wins have followed for the 28-year-old Queensland native, both back on home soil. Wilson scored decision victories over then-unbeaten Carlos Alanis in August and Jackson Jon England last December 15.

Saturday’s show also features the Seniesa Estrada-Yokasta Valle grudge match for The Ring and undisputed 105-pound championship. Their ten-rounder marks the first-ever full unification bout at strawweight, male or female.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Follow @JakeNDaBox

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