A fight is on the table for a pair of former titlists who are also linked to equally attractive in-house options.
WBC has formally ordered a title eliminator between Isaac Dogboe and Mark Magsayo. The two sides are given until the end of January to reach a deal and avoid a purse bid hearing for a fight to determine the number-one contender in the WBC featherweight rankings while its title status is up in the air.
“The WBC hereby orders the start of the free negotiations period under the WBC Rules and Regulations for the final eliminator between Isaac Dogboe and Mark Magsayo in the featherweight division,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman stated to representatives for Top Rank and TGB Promotions in an official notice. “If there is no agreement between parties, the WBC will conduct a purse offer on Tuesday, January 31 at the WBC headquarters in Mexico City under the WBC Purse Offer Procedures.”
Dogboe is promoted by Top Rank, while Magsayo is represented in the WBC-ordered talks by TGB Promotions on behalf of MP Promotions and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
During its annual convention last November in Acapulco, Mexico, the WBC initially called for the fight as part of a four-man featherweight box-off. The other side of the bracket has unified WBC/WBO junior featherweight king Stephen Fulton and former WBC 122-pound titlist Brandon Figueroa meeting in what would be a rematch of their November 2021 unification thriller, this time with the interim WBC featherweight title at stake.
Theoretically, the winners would then meet either for the interim title or the full crown should current titlist Rey Vargas (36-0, 22KOs) opt to vacate. Mexico’s Vargas is scheduled to next face Houston’s O’Shaquie Foster (19-2, 11KOs) for the vacant WBC junior lightweight title on February 11 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
However, Dogboe and Magsayo have other opportunities on the table which put in doubt whether this fight sees the light of day.
Ghana’s Dogboe (24-2, 15KOs), a former WBO junior featherweight titlist, is also in discussion for a potential clash with two-time Olympic Gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez (11-1, 7KOs). The two are the highest-rated available contenders with the WBO, separated only by Figueroa who is going the WBC route for his next fight.
Dogboe-Ramirez in their present form would serve as a final eliminator for the WBO featherweight title currently held by Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete. However, Navarrete (36-1, 30KOs) is due to face Australia’s Liam Wilson for the vacant WBC junior lightweight title on February 3 in Glendale, Arizona.
Similar to Vargas’ situation, Navarrete will be pressed after February 3 to decide on his next fight.
A win would leave the 27-year-old from San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico with ten days to decide whether to remain at 130 or return to featherweight, by WBO Regulation 5(d) which states that “no WBO Champion may hold WBO titles in more than one Weight Division. If a WBO Champion wins a WBO Championship in a higher or lower division, the WBO Champion shall have Ten (10) Days to determine which Weight Division.”
A loss by Navarrete would leave him subject to being issued a ‘Show Cause’ letter to argue against the WBO declaring his featherweight title vacant ipso facto. The sanctioning body routinely issues such advanced notification to its champions competing in another weight division.
Either way, the stakes for a proposed Dogboe-Ramirez fight will not be made clear until post-Navarrete-Wilson.
Magsayo (24-1, 16KOs) has already seen his name attached to a fight with Figueroa. Media in his native Philippines have ambitiously reported that Figueroa-Magsayo is set for the interim featherweight title on a PBC show sometime in March.
The report comes amidst rumours that Philadelphia’s Fulton (21-0, 8KOs) is no longer next facing Figueroa. However, no such confirmation has been offered by anyone involved in such a fight; it was noted during the January 7 Gervonta Davis-Hector Luis Garcia Showtime Pay-Per-View that Fulton-Figueroa II is due to take place “later this year” for the interim WBC featherweight title.
Magsayo briefly held the full version of the title, dethroning Gary Russell Jr. who was the sport’s longest-reigning active male titleholder at the time of their meeting last January 22 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Magsayo claimed a narrow twelve-round, majority decision to win the title, which he lost in his first defence when he was outpointed by Vargas via split decision last July 9 at San Antonio’s Alamodome.