The WBO has ordered Jose Ramirez, just days removed from a title defense over Viktor Postol this past weekend, to begin negotiations with mandatory challenger Jack Catterall.
Gustavo Olivieri, the in-house counsel for the WBO, confirmed to ESPN that both parties have 20 days to reach an agreement before the fight goes to purse bid.
However, there are plans for Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) to be paired against Josh Taylor, the IBF/WBA belt-holder, in his next outing, provided that Taylor get past his IBF mandatory, Apinun Khongsong, on Sept. 26. Taylor is a heavy favorite in the fight.
All sanctioning bodies in the sport have rules that state that unification bouts trump mandatory defenses.
"But what happens if [Taylor] loses to [Khongsong], and there's no unification?" Bob Arum questioned on Monday. Arum promotes both Ramirez and Taylor.
Arum noted that both Taylor and Catterall are managed by MTK Global, meaning that a step-aside deal for Catterall should be relatively easy to negotiate.
"That is correct," stated Arum, "but again, if the unification doesn't take pace, then [Ramirez] has to face Jack Catterall."