The World Boxing Association yesterday ordered a March 12 purse bid for a fight between WBA World super flyweight champion Kal Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs) and #1 WBA contender Norberto Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KOs). The purse split for the fight is 75/25. There had been talk of Yafai, 29, facing WBO champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23 KOs) in a unification match for his next fight.
Yafai vs. Jimenez is arguably a tune-up fight for Khalid rather than a mandated world title defense. The WBA is doing Yafai a favor by having him defend against Jimenez rather than him going ahead with a title unification fight against Nietes, who would have a very good chance of beating him.
The WBA now ordering a purse bid for the Yafai vs. Jimenez fight could mess up those plans. It’s unknown how much true interest Yafai had in fighting Nietes, though. Yafai has been brought along carefully by his promoter Eddie Hearn since he turned pro seven years ago in 2012, so he might shed too many tears at the WBA interrupting his plans for a unification match against Nietes. That would a risky fight for Yafai, as would unification matches against WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and IBF champion Jerwin Ancajas. Yafai and Hearn have never shown a great deal of interest in putting together fights against Ancajas and Rungvisai for some reason.
Yafai won’t be fighting on the undercard of the April 26 rematch between Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Jimenez’s resume looks worse than it actually is. He got off to a disastrous start of his pro career in 2008 in losing even out of his first eight fights. Jimenez has improved dramatically since 2012, not losing a fight in the last seven years of his career. He fought to a 12 round draw against Kohei Kono in 2014, and Eliecer Aquino in 2013. Those two are easily the best opponents that Jimenez has fought in the last seven years of his career. The WBA has Jimenez rated highly for some reason. In looking at Jimenez’s wins in the last seven years, he’s not been beating quality opposition. It would have been better if the WBA had insisted that Jimenez fight one of the talented contenders to earn the title shot against Yafai instead of having the fight given to him.
Here are Jimenez’s last five opponents:
– Renson Robles (14-6)
– Reysi Robles (7-14)
– Donny Garcia (16-6)
– Luis Alberto Zarraga (8-15-1)
– Felix Machado (26-17-1)
Those records are embarrassingly bad for recent opposition for a fighter to be on the verge of competing for a world title.
Yafai’s time as the WBA champion has been considered a disappointment in the view of a lot of boxing fans, who feel that he’s been matched too carefully by his promoter Eddie Hearn. In looking at how badly Yafai struggled in his last fight to beat former world title challenger Israel Gonzalez, it was troubling. Yafai looked poor from start to finish in winning a controversial 12 round decision over a fighter that Jerwin Ancajas knocked out in the 10th round last year in February.