Even before Raymundo Beltran steps into the ring to fight for the vacant WBO lightweight title, promoter Bob Arum already has his first title defense in mind.
Arum told Boxing Scene that he hopes that Beltran wins the title and that he makes his first title defense against lightweight contender Felix Verdejo, who is fighting on March 17. Depending on how Verdejo looks in his upcoming fight, Arum believes a Beltran vs. Verdejo fight happens and if Beltran was to successfully defend the title, then a potential showdown against WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko could be possible for much later in the year.
“We’re looking to see how Verdejo does in March in his comeback. And if he does well, we would put Beltran in with Verdejo for the lightweight title. And then, maybe later on, if Beltran was successful maybe have him fight Lomachenko,” Arum said.
Verdejo has had an extremely rough past 18 months. Verdejo was primed to fight for the WBO lightweight, last held by Terry Flanagan, but a motorcycle accident caused negotiations between Verdejo and Flanagan to stop for the time being. After Verdejo returned to the ring in early 2017, negotiations between Verdejo and Flanagan commenced once more and the two had agreed to a bout. Unfortunately for Verdejo, Flanagan suffered an injury and the title fight was called off. Verdejo was going to have a fight on a September Top Rank Boxing on ESPN, but Verdejo suffered a wrist injury weeks before the fight was supposed to take place.
Verdejo is now scheduled to fight on the March 17 Top Rank Boxing on ESPN undercard at Madison Square Garden where he will face Antonio Lozada Jr. Beltran will fight Paulus Moses for the WBO title vacated by Flanagan on the February 16 Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.