Namibia’s leading boxing promoter Nestor Tobias is unhappy with the way the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) has been deliberately sidestepping opportunities to put up a mega fight between local lad Jeremiah ‘Lowkey’ Nakathila and America’s Shakur Stevenson.
Tobias and his protégé Nakathila have for the last couple of months been pushing for a possible interim title fight between the WBO No. 2 ranked Namibian and Stevenson.
The whole issue centres around America’s Jamel Herring and Northern Islander Carl Frampton, who are slated to fight on 27 February, although the bout venue is yet to be established but it is planned to be staged in London, England.
The bout will be a voluntary defence of WBO super featherweight titlist Herring after the WBO gave the green light to the matchup by bending its own rules and made announcements back to back over the last couple of months.
Herring last faced his mandatory challenger in November 2019 when he defeated Lamont Roach Jr over 12 rounds. The WBO granted the champion a voluntary defence once boxing was back on track following the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
That time, in early September last year, Herring defended his belt against Puerto Rican Jonathan Oquendo by way of disqualification in eight frames. According to the WBO, the champion had to face his mandatory in Shakur Stevenson by no later than late January this year, but those plans went Bolivian when Top Rank promotions made sure they wanted to match Herring against Frampton next in another voluntary defence.
Somehow, the WBO agreed to the matchup between Herring and Frampton but made sure the fight needed to take place no later than by the culmination of 2020 in order to be able to please mandatory challenger Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs) as soon as possible in the new year and that has since denied Nakathila his opportunity.
“We have always been disappointed and vocal about the two voluntary defences handed to Herring. What is worse is that [Herring vs Frampton] is now postponed until February two months after it was supposed to take place. That means a longer wait for all the other boxers,” said a dismayed Tobias, who has been tirelessly pushing for No. 2 rated Nakathila towards his world title opportunity.
“Herring and Frampton must be really special to the WBO to be accorded such special privileges, but we are done complaining because clearly nobody is listening. We will continue to concentrate on our fighter and hope that he gets a title shot one day. Herring vs Frampton was approved on condition that it takes place in December 2020; that didn’t take place and the right thing would be to call off the fight and sanction Herring vs Stevenson.”
Nakathila, who is the current WBO Global titlist and has participated in ten WBO sanctioned title fights in his past 12 career bouts, has been rated in the top 5 by the WBO for years. The Namibian contender and his team are really confused by the recent actions of the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body.
In fact, Stevenson’s attorney and co-manager to Josh Dubin recently said: “Mr Stevenson agreed to step aside as the mandatory challenger to allow the Herring vs Frampton bout to proceed, provided that the bout occur no later than December 31, 2020. We request the immediate reinstatement of Stevenson as the mandatory challenger. Herring is required to either fight Stevenson in his next bout or relinquish the WBO Jr Lightweight Championship so that Stevenson can fight for the vacant WBO Jr Lightweight Championship in his next bout against the highest ranked contender.”
That ‘highest-ranked contender’ is none other than Nakathila and the Namibian is more than ready to take on Stevenson next.
“The WBO should accord us justice and take the title away from Herring. And alternatively, the least the WBO can do is sanction an interim title fight between Nakathila and Stevenson to keep the division going,” concluded Tobias.