WBO orders Terence Crawford vs. Alexis Rocha
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has ordered welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford to defend his title against Alexis Rocha, the sanctioning body announced Monday evening.
In a letter addressed to Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, and to Ish Hinson, Crawford’s legal representative, both parties have 20 days, until March 19, to finalize a deal. Should no deal be complete by then, a purse bid will take place, with the minimum bid being $200,000. WBO rules mandate a 75/25 percent split between the world titleholder and challenger.
Rocha (22-1, 14 knockouts) is now the mandatory challenger to face Crawford, replacing Vergil Ortiz Jr., who is facing Eimantas Stanionis for the WBA secondary world title belt on April 29. Rocha earned the right to face Crawford in his last bout on January 28, knocking out Ghana’s George Ashie in the seventh round of an action fight.
The 25-year-old, who grew up in Santa Ana, California, has won his last six fights since suffering the only blemish of his pro career at the hands of Rashidi Ellis in October 2020.
Rocha, the younger brother of former world title challenger Ronny Rios, is promoted by Golden Boy.
On the same day, prior to the Rocha-Ashie fight, Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy posted a picture on their social media accounts of Crawford visiting the Golden Boy offices in Downtown Los Angeles. Jake Donovan of Boxingscene stated both Crawford and Golden Boy are currently negotiating a promotional deal, with talks continuing between both sides.
Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) made the sixth successful defense of the WBO title in his last bout on December 10, knocking out David Avanesyan in the sixth round in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. In his previous fight in November 2021, Crawford stopped former titleholder Shawn Porter in a close fight.
There was speculation Crawford would face Errol Spence in a long-awaited world unification fight, with November 19 as a penciled date. The fight did not materialize, again, to the chagrin of boxing fans.
The 35-year-old is currently ranked No. 2 by The Ring. Spence is No. 1.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]