Joshua Franco is now one win away from taking on his younger brother in a playful challenge to unify the titles.
The World Boxing Association (WBA) has officially ordered a junior bantamweight title consolidation clash between Franco as a secondary titlist and lineal/WBA “Super” champion Juan Francisco Estrada. Franco of San Antonio (18-1-2, 8KOs) was already assured of a shot at the WBA Senior title, with this opportunity now to follow younger brother Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez (15-0, 10KOs) having won the title. WBC junior bantamweight.
“The World Boxing Association (WBA) Championships Committee has ordered the mandatory fight between super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada and category champion Joshua Franco,” Carlos Chavez, chairman of the championships committee, confirmed on Wednesday. WBA championships. “[T]The teams of both fighters… will have 30 days to negotiate the fight from February 9 to March 11, 2022.”
A bidding hearing will be scheduled to determine promotional rights if the two sides cannot agree. Estrada (42-3, 28KOs) is co-promoted by Zanfer Boxing and Matchroom Boxing, while Franco is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and managed by Rick Mirigian through MTK Global.
Neither fighter can agree to another fight once the mandatory title fight is ordered, killing any plans for Estrada to wait for the winner of the March 5 clash between Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (50- 3, 41KOs) and Julio Cesar ‘El Rey’ Martinez (18-1, 14KOs; 2NC). Estrada was originally scheduled to face Gonzalez in a rubber match on the live date on DAZN from Pechanga Arena in San Diego, only to test positive for Covid and have to withdraw.
The fallout came more than three months after Gonzalez was forced to postpone their previously scheduled October 16 clash after testing positive for Covid last September. Both developments came as Franco was already assured of a shot at the WBA “Super” junior bantamweight title following his repeat victory over Andrew Moloney on August 14. The WBA’s order came at the start of its forced title reduction campaign, with Franco set to face the Estrada-Gonzalez III winner at the time.
Franco is now heading straight for the main title, as the proxy was declared late by the sanctioning body.
Mexico’s Estrada won the “Super” title while defending his WBC title in a 12-round split decision win over Gonzalez on March 13 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The winner was scheduled to face Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a mandatory WBC title defense, although Estrada has since cashed in the belt for the sanctioning body’s “franchise” title.
Sor Rungvisai was due to face Mexico City’s Carlos Cuadras on February 5, only to fall ill (unrelated to Covid) and retire. He was replaced by San Antonio’s Rodriguez, who moved up in weight on just six days’ notice to drop and pass Cuadras in twelve rounds to win the vacant WBC title in Phoenix, Arizona.
Rodriguez joked after the fight that he and his brother can now unify since they both hold titles at the same weight. Sports elitists were quick to joke and were quick to point out that Franco holds a secondary version of the title, therefore ineligible to compete in a unification bout. A victory over Estrada would theoretically fix this problem, although it is highly unlikely that the siblings would face each other.
Franco is undefeated in his last eight starts, which have included two separate trilogies and three fights that failed to produce a winner. A three-fight streak with Oscar Negrete saw Franco go 1-0-2 over a ten-month span before facing and knocking out Jose Burgos in a January 2020 clash at the Alamodome in his hometown of San Antonio. .
The fight was followed by Franco’s first title bid, edging out Moloney in June 2020 to win the WBA junior bantamweight world title. Their November 2020 rematch saw Moloney take an early two-round lead, only for Franco to be unable to continue after a swollen closed eye from what was ruled an accidental headbutt. Their trilogy clash came last August, with Franco winning 116-112 on all three scorecards to defend the title.
Estrada became a two-division title slate after a twelve-point win over Sor Rungvisai to win the WBC bracelet in their April 2019 rematch. He has since made three defenses, including the disputed split-decision win over Gonzalez in their rematch to avenge a loss over eight years prior.
Jake Donovan is Senior Writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox