Junior lightweight world titleholder Jezreel Corrales, one of the best fighters in the talent-rich 130-pound division, is coming to fight in the United States after signing a multiyear deal with Golden Boy Promotions on Wednesday.
"First of all, I would like to thank God for allowing these doors to keep opening up for me," Corrales said. "I would also like to thank Golden Boy Promotions for giving me the opportunity to become a part of their huge company and for giving me the chance to showcase my skills in the U.S. market and being able to perform on the big stage and participate in the huge events that they put together. With their hand, I will be the best [junior lightweight] champion in the world."
Corrales (21-1, 8 KOs), a 25-year-old southpaw from Panama, claimed an interim junior lightweight belt in 2015. In his next fight, in April 2016, Corrales got his mandatory shot against longtime full titleholder Takashi Uchiyama and traveled to Tokyo, where he scored a huge upset. He knocked Uchiyama down three times en route to a second-round knockout.
Uchiyama got an immediate rematch in December, also in Tokyo, and Corrales had a tougher time but retained the title by split decision.
Now he is headed for the U.S., where Golden Boy has heavy involvement in the junior lightweight division. It promotes former titleholder Francisco Vargas, top contenders Takashi Miura and Yuriorkis Gamboa and holds options on titleholder Miguel Berchelt and former titlist Orlando Salido.
"We know that Corrales has a huge opportunity to impress boxing fans here in the U.S, and we have no doubt that he will attain his goal as one of the best [junior lightweights] in the world," Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said. "We look forward to seeing him showcase his talent here, and taking on the best in his class."
There is no set date or opponent for Corrales' next fight, but Golden Boy president Eric Gomez told ESPN that he would have his first fight of the agreement "sometime in the early summer."
"The guy's a champion, a very good fighter, and we're going to debut him in the U.S. and put him in some big fights," Gomez said. "He wants to fight any of the other champions. Salido would be a good fight. We can do that. We can do many different things. We'd look at [titleholder Vasyl] Lomachenko.
"There [is] a rich history with Panamanian fighters, and he is looking to preserve that and try to make a name for himself in the U.S. We're going to try to make him into a star. Anytime you can add a champion to your stable it's a good thing."
Corrales, who turned pro in 2009 and suffered his only defeat, a four-round decision in his second bout, has fought all of his bouts in Panama other than his two trips for the title fights in Japan.
"We'd like to thank Golden Boy Promotions for the grand opportunity to sign this special contract with Jezreel," Rogelio Espino, Corrales' adviser, said. "Corrales is a tactical fighter who has great speed and has a unique boxing style that fans in North America will love. Jezreel, in the hands of Golden Boy Promotions, can and will conquer the U.S. fan base and cement his status as one of the current best in the world."