It has been confirmed that a WBO interim featherweight title has been created and will be contested at the SSE Odyssey Arena on Saturday April 21st.
The widely-expected move comes following champion Oscar Valdez’s successful fourth defence of the title earlier this month. The Mexican successfully defended the brown belt versus former Frampton foe Scott Quigg in California, scoring a competitive but clear unanimous decision win.
Unfortunately, for Valdez, the 27-year-old had his jaw broken by Quigg during the fight at the StubHub Centre.
The former gym-mate of Mick Conlan and Olympic opponent of John Joe Nevin required his jaw to be wired shut to reset the broken bone and is expected to be ruled out for an extended period, perhaps until 2019.
Frampton is currently only ranked #4 with the WBO, while Donaire is rated down at #8. Promoter Frank Warren, however, seems to have considerable influence over the body and has been successful in his quest for the bout to be upgraded to an Interim title fight.
The winner next month must face Valdez when the Top Rank fighter makes his return. Warren had previously been in the process of making the fight a WBO final eliminator and this status now has been solidified and arguably upgraded with the addition of the secondary title.
Interim titles have recently become a major scourge for boxing fans, with such belts operating concurrently with full titles and muddying the warers. However, with Valdez suffering a legitimate long-term injury, an Interim belt looks warranted in this scenario.
Queensberry boss Warren said that “I’m delighted that the WBO Interim Featherweight World Title will now be up for grabs on April 21st.”
“This is a guaranteed barnburner between two elite Featherweights and having an Interim belt on the line gives the fight an extra bit of spice.”
Considering Valdez may be out until next year, Frampton will be expected to defend the WBO interim title should he win on April 21st. A unification of an interim belt and a full world title looks unlikely so, if Frampton is to face the winner of Lee Selby’s IBF title defence against Josh Warrington as previously planned, he would need to ditch the WBO belt.
However, what seems more likely is that Frampton and the winner of that fight will be kept apart, with the Tiger’s Bay 31-year-old defending the interim strap against a WBO-rated contender (or contenders) before targeting Valdez in the new year.
Warren has promised, and apparently has already booked, Frampton a fight date in Windsor Park this Summer.