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Oscar Valdez and Matias Rueda could fight for a world title July 23. Or not.

Oscar Valdez (L) tags Alberto Garza - Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank

Oscar Valdez (L) tags Alberto Garza in 2014. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

Bob Arum did some housekeeping on Tuesday and clarified the stakes involved for Oscar Valdez’s featherweight clash with Matias Rueda on July 23 on HBO PPV on the Terence Crawford-Viktor Postol undercard.

There was confusion as to whether Valdez-Rueda will be for the vacant WBO featherweight title, Arum said. The fight was heralded as a WBO featherweight title bout in a press release sent out before Tuesday’s Los Angeles undercard news conference. Both fighters even spoke of winning a world championship in their fight. Arum’s message on Tuesday, however, was that they may have jumped the gun. Or maybe not.

It just depends on what WBO featherweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko decides to do on June 11 following his bout with WBO Jr. lightweight titleholder Rocky Martinez at Madison Square Garden on HBO, he said.

If Lomachenko wins, as he is expected to do, and then opts to vacate the featherweight title, then Valdez-Rueda goes for the vacant WBO featherweight title, Arum said. If Lomachenko loses or decides to remain at featherweight, Valdez-Rueda will be converted to an eliminator for a chance to face the two-time Olympic gold medalist. Arum took a few moments to delve deep into the specifics on the fates of Valdez (20-0, 17 knockouts) and Argentina’s Rueda (26-0, 23 KOs).

“I just want to clear up any misunderstanding you might have,” Arum began in his gravelly voice. “Oscar Valdez is the No. 1 contender in the 126 featherweight division of the WBO. Matias Rueda is No. 2. Both of the fighters are undefeated. The champion at 126 is Vasyl Lomachenko. Vasyl is fighting June 11 in Madison Square Garden for the WBO super featherweight championship, 130 pounds against Rocky Martinez.”

Here’s where the word ‘if’ was used three separate times to describe the various scenarios that could happen. Arum continued matter-of-factly: “If Lomachenko wins the 130-pound title and decides to keep that title and give up the 126-pound title, this fight between Valdez and Rueda will be for the world championship,” Arum said. “If Lomachenko loses to Martinez or defeats Martinez and decides to stay at 126, this fight will be a official final eliminator for the title.”

Because of the uncertainties involved, the fight remains in a haze clouded by whatever Lomachenko decides to do. “We won’t know what label to put on this fight until about a week after the June 11 fight because Vasyl told me that he will– if he beats Martinez– he will take very little time to make a decision whether to stay at 126 or keep the 130-pound title,” Arum said. “In any event, this fight, which is an outstanding one, will be a 12-round fight.”

Valdez and the other fighters sat mostly stone-faced on stage throughout. In other undercard fights, Gilberto Ramirez (34-0, 24 KOs) will make his first defense of his WBO super middleweight title against Germany’s Dominik Britsch (32-2-1, 11 KOs); and welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr. (24-0, 16 KOs) clashes with Francisco Santana (24-4-1, 12 KOs).


Mitch Abramson is a former reporter for the New York Daily News and can be reached on Twitter at: @Mabramson13.