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Rey Vargas-Emmanuel Rodriguez in the works for April

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Rodriguez reached the WBSS semifinals before running into Naoya Inoue

WBC Super Bantamweight Championship - Vargas v Kameda Photo By Tom Hogan/Golden Boy/Getty Images

WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas, sporting a shiny new contract from Premier Boxing Champions, looks likely to welcome a former bantamweight champion to 122 in his first defense of 2020. Emmanuel Rodriguez’s manager Juan Orengo tells Primera Hora that he and Vargas’ team have come to terms on everything but the date; they are tentatively targeting April, “possibly” in the United States.

Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KO) announced his arrival onto the world stage in 2018 by smashing a grievously overweight Paul Butler, earning himself the vacant IBF title and a ranked spot in the WBSS bantamweight tourney. After defeating a game Jason Moloney, Rodriguez met Naoya Inoue in the semifinals, where he lasted longer than quarterfinal victim Juan Carlos Payano but nonetheless shared a similar fate as many of “The Monster’s” victims.

The Puerto Rican looked to bounce back in November against Luis Nery, but refused to fight after “Pantera” missed weight. Unlike Nery, he is now willingly making a move to 122; Orengo says Rodriguez’s body was “asking him” to move up.

He’s definitely jumping right into the deep end. Vargas (34-0, 22 KO) has a strong claim to being the #1 super bantamweight in the game, as Murodjon Akhmadaliev only recently claimed a belt and Emanuel Navarrete has been gorging himself on low-level opposition since stopping Isaac Dogboe in their rematch. He’s made five successful defenses of the title since taking it from Gavin McDonnell in 2017, notably beating Ronny Rios, Azat Hovhannisyan, and most recently Tomoki Kameda.

It may not be the Em(m)anuel we wanted Vargas to fight, but this should be a quality scrap.