Two, in fact, should he resume his winning ways. The recently crowned WBA junior lightweight titlist was ordered to next defend the belt versus Ireland’s Jono Carroll. The ruling was made despite the fact that unbeaten contender Otar Eranosyan won a final eliminator just last summer and is ranked number-one by the sanctioning body.
Eranosyan will instead have to wait out this fight as he is assured a shot at the winner. “The World Boxing Association (WBA) Championships Committee recognized Jono Carroll as the mandatory challenger of the super featherweight category after an extensive analysis of the division and what has happened recently,” WBA Championship Committee chairman Carlos Chavez said in a ruling made available Friday. “Carroll sent a formal request to WBA and after analyzing the scenario, the decision was reached on Friday, February 9. “It was approved that Carroll will be Roach’s mandatory challenger and a 30-day period will be granted to negotiate the fight as established by the WBA. In addition, the winner of the bout will face Eranosyan within 120 days of his victory.” Roach (24-1-1, 9KOs) won the title as the mandatory challenger in a twelve-round decision over Dominican Republic’s Hector Garcia last November 25 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. The opportunity came more than 16 months after Roach won a July 2022 title eliminator over Angel Rodriguez. Somehow, the WBA lost sight of the fact that Dublin’s Carroll (24-2-1, 7KOs) was already the mandatory challenger in waiting, based on his September 2021 majority decision victory over Andy Vences in Hollywood, Florida. He has since fought four times, most recently in a ten-round decision over Miguel Marriaga in their battle of former title challengers last March 18 in Dubai.
In its infinite wisdom, the WBA approved yet another final elimination bout last August. Eranosyan (14-0, 7KOs)—a 30-year-old Georgian native based in Miami—scored an eighth-round knockout of former WBA 130-pound titlist Roger Gutierrez in Plant City, Florida. Gutierrez contributed in part to the prior confusion. He was due to face then-unbeaten interim WBA titlist Chris Colbert in a February 2022 title consolidation bout. An injury prevented the Venezuelan from honoring the commitment, after which he was replaced by a then-unbeaten Garcia who dominated Coblert to earn the full title shot. Garcia in turn outpointed Gutierrez over twelve rounds to win the full WBA title in August 2022. The fact that Carroll was passed over several times during that stretch provided sufficient grounds for an appeal. The WBA made note of his willingness to remain active in that time, which tipped the vote in his favor to get his overdue shot versus Roach. The two sides will have until March 10 to reach a deal and avoid a purse bid hearing.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for themusicboxingmachine.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox