The WBA has announced its plans for its currently vacant "Regular" junior middleweight title.
It had been revealed some time ago that Brian Castano was no longer the secondary 154-pound titleholder after some contract issues with mandatory challenger Michel Soro. The WBA revealed that the main issue stemmed from Castano not signing a fight contract against Soro after Soro's promoters had won a purse bid with a winning bid of $810,000. The bout, originally planned for July 20 in Marseille, France and would have been a rematch to their 2017 fight that saw Castano win by split decision.
As such, the WBA has ordered Soro to face Erislandy Lara for the vacant title. Below is the full statement by the WBA:
"The World Boxing Association (WBA) World Super Welterweight Title that was previously held by Brian Carlos Castano of Argentina is now vacant, as champion Castano and challenger Michel Soro could not come to an agreement of terms to fight.
On May 28th, 2019, a purse bid was held for Castano’s mandatory defense against the leading available contender in the division, Michel Soro in Panama City, Panama. Univent Production won the purse bid with $810,000.00. As part of its bid, Univent Production proposed a bout of July 20, 2019 in Marseille, France.
On June 5th, 2019, Univent Production sent proposed bout contracts to Castano and Soro for the fight on July 20, 2019 in Marseille, France. On June 19th, 2019, Soro returned the signed bout contract. On June 22nd, 2019, the WBA sent a second reminder (the first being on June 18th), granting Castano an additional 24 hours to forward the bout contract. Castano did not reply or return the bout contract.
As per WBA rules, most notably D.11 and D.12 pertaining to purse offer contracts and timing of bouts, the decision has been made by the sanctioning body to withdraw Castano’s recognition as World Champion and thus declares the Super Welterweight title Vacant.
WBA Gold Champion and certified mandatory contender Michel Soro and WBA next available contender, No 2 Erislandy Lara shall fight for the now vacant title of the division."
Whether or not Lara decides to fight Soro next is another matter entirely. Lara is currently scheduled to face Ramon Alvarez on August 31 in Minneapolis. In his last time out, Lara unsuccessfully challenged Castano for the WBA "Regular" title in March with the bout ending in a split draw, meaning Castano retained the title. Should Lara move forward with a fight against Alvarez, the next highest-ranked available contender would be Kell Brook, followed by Israil Madrimov. Carlos Adames and Erickson Lubin are currently scheduled to fight on June 28 and June 29, respectively.