THE World Boxing Association (WBA) has mandated newly crowned WBA minimumweight champion Vic Saludar to defend his title next against No. 1 contender Byron Rojas. Saludar has 120 days from the date that he won the belt to defend it.
Saludar won the vacant strap last Feb. 20, 2021 with a split decision win over Robert Paradero in an all-Filipino world championship bout at the Biñan City Football Stadium in Biñan City, Laguna. The fight should be held not later than June 20, 2021.
The WBA ordered both camps to negotiate the fight from March 3, 2021 to April 2, 2021. If the promoters of both boxers don’t reach an agreement, then the fight will be put on a purse bid.
The 31-year-old Saludar is a staple in the 105-pound division. He has been highly rated for years.
He earned his first world title shot in 2015 against Japanese star and then World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka in Japan. Saludar dropped Tanaka in the fifth round but got knocked out with a body shot in the following round.
Saludar earned another title shot in 2018. This time, he outclassed Japanese Ryuya Yamanaka to win the WBO minimumweight belt. He successfully defended his crown once against Masataka Taniguchi in 2019 before losing his belt against Wilfredo Mendez by unanimous decision.
Saludar is the No. 6 rated minimumweight fighter by The Ring Magazine.
The 30-year-old Rojas, on the other hand, is a former WBA minimumweight titleholder. He won the title in 2016 after a unanimous decision win over Hekkie Budler in South Africa. His reign was short-lived though as he lost it to Thammanoon Niyomtrong (CP Knockout Freshmart) in his first title defense by unanimous decision in Thailand. Rojas earned another shot at Niyomtrong in 2018 and still lost by unanimous decision in Thailand.
Saludar is 21-4 with 11 knockouts, while the Nicaraguan Rojas is 27-4-3 with 11 knockouts. (EKA)