|ESPN.com: Boxing||[Print without images]|
Former featherweight world titleholder Orlando Salido and former title challenger Terdsak Kokietgym will square off for a vacant interim junior lightweight title on Sept. 20 in Salido's hometown of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.
The WBO, which is sanctioning the title involved in the bout, normally does not give out interim belts the way other organizations do, but it made an exception in this case because Mikey Garcia, its 130-pound titleholder, is inactive and embroiled in a lawsuit with Top Rank, his promoter, and it looks like he will be idle for an extended period.
"The approval of interim championship bouts is an exception, not the norm," WBO attorney Luis Batista-Salas wrote in the organization's letter granting the sanction this week. "In this case we are ordering this fight due to the fact that current WBO junior lightweight titleholder Miguel Angel 'Mikey' Garcia is in an anticipated protracted legal battle with his promoter, seeking a declaration from the California State Court that he has no further obligation under the promotional rights agreement.
"Besides the contractual dispute, the champion has furthermore declared his intent to move up in weight. Thus, and in order to keep the junior lightweight division active, we approve the fight between Salido and Kokietgym, the two best available contenders."
Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs), a two-division titleholder, has not fought since a lopsided unanimous decision win against Juan Carlos Burgos in a Jan. 25 title defense in New York, and it appears unlikely that he will fight again this year.
Salido lost his featherweight world title to Garcia by eighth-round technical decision in January 2013, also in New York, when an accidental head-butt broke Garcia's nose and the fight was called off because Garcia, who had knocked Salido down four times, was deemed unable to continue.
After Garcia failed to make weight for his first defense against Juan Manuel Lopez, he was stripped of the belt. Salido then won the vacant title by knocking out Orlando Cruz in the seventh round in October.
Salido (41-12-2, 28 KOs), 33, was stripped of the title for failing to make weight for a March 1 defense against Vasyl Lomachenko. Salido won a decision, but the title remained vacant and he announced he would move up to junior lightweight, where he is again following behind Garcia.
"Mikey gave us the opportunity to fight for the featherweight title again by not making weight and now he is giving us the opportunity to fight for the (interim) junior lightweight title," Sean Gibbons, Salido's manager, told ESPN.com on Friday. "We're happy to fight for this title against the top-rated (WBO) contender.
"If we win, we'll send Mikey a nice Christmas ham even though Salido is still upset that he quit on us in ninth round with a suspect broken nose when Salido was coming on like Grant in Richmond. We know this is a big opportunity, especially because he gets to fight at home."
Kokietgym (53-4-1, 33 KOs), 33, of Thailand, is riding a seven-fight winning streak since suffering a unanimous decision loss to Japan's Takahiro Ao in a junior lightweight title challenge in April 2012.
Kokietgym's four losses have all come when he has faced a top-level opponent. Besides the loss to Ao, he dropped a decision challenging Steven Luevano for a featherweight title in 2008, was knocked out in the seventh round by Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez in a 2006 interim featherweight title bout and lost by unanimous decision to Joan Guzman in a featherweight title eliminator in 2005.