In January, the undisputed bantamweight champion Japanese Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) officially renounced his belts and confirmed his intention to continue his career in the division above.
Entertaining confusion began, as the top contenders (primarily Vincent Astrolabio, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Jason Moloney) had the right to choose which of the vacant belts to fight for.
The situation was easiest with the WBA belt, so the leaders of the rating for this version of the Japanese Takuma Inoue (17-1, 4 KOs) and the Venezuelan Liborio Solis (35-6-1, 16 KOs) simply had no other options. It is already known that they will fight in April in a real Japanese super show: unification, title holder, ex-rival of Mayweather and eliminator.
It seemed that everything was clear with the IBF – the winners of the eliminators Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) from the Philippines and Emmanuel Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KOs) from Puerto Rico will compete for the title. But the ex-champion was frankly lucky – Rodriguez will make his second attempt to win this belt not with Astrolabio, but with the middle peasant from Nicaragua Melvin Lopez (29-1, 19 KOs).
The thing is that earlier Australian Jason Moloney (25-2, 19 KOs) refused to fight for the WBC belt with Filipino legend Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28 KOs) and followed the WBO path. And Astrolabio decided that Moloney is stylistically more convenient (or financially more profitable) for them than Rodriguez. So the most competitive fight is planned here – Moloney vs Astrolabio.
The WBC also quickly found a new opponent for Donaire. He will fight the very much underestimated Mexican Alejandro Santiago (27-3-5, 14 KOs), and then the newly-minted champion will meet with the mandatory challenger, who will be determined in the eliminator.
Last month, Donaire unexpectedly claimed that “Lomachenko can beat Haney mentally.”