The February 16th PBC card headlined by Leo Santa Cruz’s title defense against late replacement Rafael Rivera has received some extra beef in the form of an IBF super bantamweight final eliminator pitting Cesar Juarez against former champ Ryosuke Iwasa.
Juarez (23-6, 17 KO) saw his notorious durability cracked for the first time last year against Isaac Dogboe, who put him down twice en route to a fifth-round TKO. He’s since won three straight in Mexico, extending his record to 6-1 since a surprise split decision loss to unknown Giovanni Delgado.
Iwasa (25-3, 16 KO) knocked out countryman Yukinori Oguni for the belt in 2017, defended it the following March against Ernesto Saulong, then controversially lost it to TJ Doheny in August. His only prior losses came against Shinsuke Yamanaka and Lee Haskins, the former in 2011 and the latter in 2015.
Whoever wins this becomes Doheny’s mandatory challenger. That said, Doheny has the prospect of an April 6th unification bout with Daniel Roman on the table, so we’ll see how that pans out.
Frankly, this is way more competitive and interesting than the main event. Good work, matchmakers.