The WBO on Wednesday announced it has sanctioned the fight between Nonito Donaire and Cesar Juarez for the organization's vacant junior featherweight world title.
Donaire, the former titleholder, and Juarez will meet at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday night (truTV, 10 ET/PT) in a fight that initially was scheduled to be for a regional belt. It had been expected, however, to be elevated in stature for the vacant world title.
That is because Guillermo Rigondeaux, who outpointed Donaire in April 2013 to unify two major world titles, was recently stripped of both of his 122-pound belts for inactivity. Donaire (35-3, 23 KOs) and Juarez (17-3, 13 KOs) were the two highest-rated fighters in the WBO's rankings and would have been ordered to meet for the vacant title anyway.
As the WBO rules permit, Rigondeaux was in the process of appealing the organization's decision to strip the belt. But he withdrew his appeal -- one he was almost certainly going to lose -- paving the way for the Donaire-Juarez bout to be sanctioned immediately for the WBO's world title and giving Donaire, who has already won world titles in four weight classes, a chance to win yet another belt.
Donaire-Juarez will take place on a card headlined by lightweight Felix Verdejo (18-0, 13 KOs), the 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year and a 2012 Olympian who is coming off a six-month layoff and surgery to remove bone spurs from his left hand.
Verdejo will square off with Brazil's Josenilson Dos Santos (27-3, 17 KOs) in a 10-round bout.