CURRENT WBO World lightweight champion Terry Flanagan was left without a fall dance partner when his mandatory defense against Felix Verdejo was called off last month.
The WBO ordered the fight but, days later, the Puerto Rican contender crashed his motorcycle and suffered injuries that rendered him unable to compete until further notice.
Flanagan’s promoter, Frank Warren, stated over the weekend that options for his fighter are now somewhat limited. However, he did leave the door open for a very intriguing matchup.
“Big battles still lie ahead for Terry in a division of numerous possibilities,” said Warren on his official site. “Dejan Zlaticanin is linked with defending his WBC title against Mikey Garcia, while IBF super featherweight champion Jose Pedraza is reported to fancy trying his hand at lightweight. Former world champion Juan Diaz is another possibility for Terry and we are talking with Bob Arum over a potential November date.”
Unifying the titles at 135 remains a priority for Flanagan but Anthony Crolla is tangling with Jorge Linares for the WBA belt in Manchester next month. Mikey Garcia, according to Warren, is on the fast-track toward a shot at Zlaticanin’s WBC strap and the IBF belt is currently sitting on a shelf waiting to be picked up by either Robert Easter Jnr or Richard Commey next week on the Daniel Jacobs – Sergio Mora undercard.
Running down the list of notable lightweights, Flanagan may be left with former unified lightweight champion, Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz, as the biggest name currently out there for himself.
Though currently unranked by the WBO, Diaz has won seven straight since commencing his comeback in 2013 and seemed to be in prime form during his most recent outing against Cesar Vazquez last month. He knocked out Vazquez in impressive fashion and immediately began expressing his interest in a fight with Flanagan.
This week, the self-advocacy continued. “Staying ready for whatever!” said Diaz on social media, along with a picture of himself training. “Let’s make this happen.” Terry Flanagan was mentioned on the tweet, as were Frank Warren and Top Rank, of course.
Flanagan struck back straightaway. “If you want it, come get it, you will get the same as the last 2 @trboxing got!!!”
The date Warren referenced in his recent post is, in all likelihood, November 5th, the night earmarked for Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas.
With Top Rank’s decision to distribute the pay-per-view event themselves, there is a major incentive for the promotional giant to throw another championship fight into the mix that night. That is especially the case if said fight features one of UK’s finest and a very popular Mexican-American former champion.
This is one of those rare occasions in the sport in which we have promoters willing to work with each other, fighters willing to fight, and television networks not around to rock the boat. As with everything, however, the negotiation must now run its course.
Critics will argue that Diaz’s days are behind him but “Baby Bull” disagrees and promises to show the world that he’s ready for his fifth world title. “I am ready and available, anywhere, any time. Taking back what is mine.”