Featherweight world titleholder Oscar Valdez is about to take a big step up in opposition.
Top Rank and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, the promoters for Valdez and top contender Scott Quigg, respectively, are in the process of finalizing a contract for Valdez and Quigg to square off on March 10, two sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations told ESPN on Monday. They did not want to speak publicly because the deal, though agreed to, is not yet signed.
The fight would headline a Top Rank ESPN card at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, where Valdez has fought three times previously, including a tremendous battle with Miguel Marriaga, whom he outpointed to retain his belt on April 22.
Shortly after ESPN's story was initially published, Hearn acknowledged that the deal was close, writing on his Twitter account, "I see the news (is) breaking. Correct -- we are close to finalizing a deal for Scott Quigg to face Oscar Valdez for the world title. Hopefully (we will) get it over the line. Will be an unbelievable fight!"
Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs), 27, of Mexico, will be making his fourth title defense and stepping up to face his most notable opponent in former junior featherweight world titleholder Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs). Quigg, 29, though from England, wouldn't have to travel far from his training camp at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
Valdez is coming off a unanimous decision victory against Genesis Servania on Sept. 22 in one of the best fights of 2017. Valdez got knocked down in the fourth round and he rebounded to drop Servania in the fifth round of the all-out slugfest in Tucson, Arizona, where Valdez lived for several years during his childhood.
Quigg has won three fights in a row since his only defeat, a split decision to Northern Ireland's Carl Frampton in a heavily hyped junior featherweight unification bout in February 2016. Quigg moved up to featherweight following that bout. He is coming off a sixth-round knockout of Oleg Yefimovych on Nov. 4 in Monte Carlo.
Valdez-Quigg will go in a high-profile time slot, one ESPN wanted to use for a Top Rank card --- immediately following the ACC men's basketball tournament championship game at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET.