Bantamweight world titleholder Luis Nery, who failed a random drug test related to his title victory on Aug. 15 in Kyoto, Japan, will engage in a nontitle fight while the fate of his belt is resolved, Fernando Beltran of Zanfer Promotions announced Tuesday.
The WBC has yet to rule on the status of Nery’s title. While it is in limbo, Nery will face former world title challenger Artur Villanueva in a 10-round nontitle fight on Nov. 4 (beIN Sports Espanol, 11 p.m. ET) at Gasmart Stadium in Tijuana, Mexico, which is Nery’s hometown.
“Personally, and on behalf of my company Zanfer, we thank Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council, for the opportunity that was given to Nery to become world champion,” Beltran said at a news conference announcing the fight. “We will wait and respect the resolution made by the WBC, but for now, we announce that Nery will face a tough opponent, Artur Villanueva.”
Nery (24-0, 18 KOs), a 22-year-old southpaw, won a 118-pound world title by fourth-round knockout of Shinsuke Yamanaka. But in a random test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association as part of the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program, Nery tested positive for the banned substance of zilpaterol, which is used to increase the size of cattle. Nery said he ate contaminated meat, which has been a problem for athletes from Mexico.
Villanueva (31-2, 17 KOs), 28, of the Philippines, has suffered both of his losses in world title bouts. He dropped a 10-round technical decision to Puerto Rico’s McJoe Arroyo for a vacant junior bantamweight title in July 2015 and lost a unanimous decision to Zolani Tete, of South Africa, for an interim title on April 22. Villanueva returned from that defeat to stop countryman and former world title challenger Richie Mepranum in the fourth round on Sept. 16.
Though his world title is in jeopardy, Nery expressed happiness to fight at home while still owning a belt.
“It is a joy to fight in Tijuana. It was always my dream to fight before my people as world champion, and I will be granted this opportunity on Nov. 4,” Nery said. “I hope that the fans of Tijuana will be present at the Gasmart Stadium and we’ll be able to give them a great fight.”