Junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor is vacating his IBF title, which will leave him with one remaining sanctioning body title after having become the four-belt undisputed champion, and Demetrius Andrade has relinquished the WBO middleweight title.
Top Rank has told the IBF that Taylor is vacating the organization’s 140-pound title and that Jeremais Ponce (30-0, 20 KOs), 26, of Argentina, and Subriel Matias (18-1, 18 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, have been ordered to negotiate to fight for the belt, an IBF spokesperson told Big Fight Weekend on Wednesday.
Taylor’s decision comes as no surprise as the IBF on Monday canceled a purse bid set for Tuesday for his mandatory defense against Ponce.
Taylor, who unified the four major sanctioning body titles to become the undisputed champion in May 2021 by outpointing Jose Ramirez, has slowly seen three of his belts become vacant after the IBF, WBC and WBA all ordered mandatory defense that Taylor could not do at the same time.
Taylor, who still holds the WBO belt and The Ring magazine title, all along has been targeting a rematch with Jack Catterall rather than going to forward with any of the mandatory defenses.
A rematch with Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs), 29, of England, whom Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs), 31, of Scotland, won a highly controversial split decision against in February, is by far the biggest fight for him compared to any of the mandatory bouts.
As expected, Andrade has vacated the WBO middleweight title after five successful defenses and will move up to super middleweight, where the WBO has re-approved a fight between Andrade and Zach Parker for the organization’s vacant interim title.
It notified both camps on Tuesday that the fight had been approved and gave them 10 days to make a deal. If there is no deal, the WBO will schedule a purse bid. Minimum bid would be $300,000. Either side can forego the negotiating period and ask for an immediate purse bid.
In the letter, the WBO stipulated that “if the parties cannot reach an agreement and purse bid proceedings are ordered, Demetrius Andrade and Zach Parker must manifest in writing to the WBO within 48 hours upon the adjudication of the purse bid whether they will participate in the mandated bout accordingly.”
Also, the WBO said that it “reserves the right to order that the winner of the Andrade/Parker bout face in his next fight the mandatory challenger and/or interim champion of any of the other recognized sanctioning organizations.”
Andrade (31-0, 19 KOs), 34, a southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island, was ordered last month to face interim middleweight titlist Janibek Alimkhanuly. Facing short money for a dangerous fight and claiming to have issues making 160 pounds, Andrade elected to vacate and move up.
When Andrade was originally ordered to face Alimkhanuly earlier this year, he elected to instead seek the interim super middleweight title fight and was scheduled to fight Parker (22-0, 16 KOs), 28, of England, on May 21 in England. But the fight was canceled when Andrade injured his shoulder a few weeks before the fight, at which point the WBO withdrew its sanction. That sanction was re-instated this week at Andrade’s request.
Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8 KOs), 29, a 2016 Olympian from Kazakhstan, who claimed the vacant interim middleweight belt via second-round destruction of Danny Dignum on May 21 in Las Vegas, will be elevated to the full titleholder.