By Brock Ellis
SURPRISE title-shots are commonplace in boxing. With injuries, contractual disputes and many other factors occurring with regularity - it rarely strikes a chord when a last-minute challenger is called in to face an opponent of much higher stature.
Yet when the news came that long-reigning and unbeaten WBA featherweight "super" champion Chris John had signed to make the fifteenth defence of his world title against the unheralded Australian super-bantamweight Daniel Iannazzo, it still came as a major surprise.
John (45-0-2, 22 KOs), rated the #2 featherweight in the world by 'The Ring' Magazine, first won the "interim" version of the WBA featherweight title with a split points decision over Oscar Leon in 2003 - has reigned unbeaten for eight years, making a resounding 14 successful title defences. Along the way, the dubious WBA promoted John to "super" champion status, in-spite of the fact that he has yet to unify any of the other three major featherweight world titles.
Among the list of fighters that John has dismissed in impressive fashion include leading Indonesian prospect Daud Yordan, 2000 Olympic Silver Medallist Rocky Juarez, the previously unbeaten Hiroyuki Enoki as well as former world champion Derrick "Smoke" Gainer.
On his glittering resume, none of his victories stack up quite as well as his most significant career victory - a unanimous points nod over future Hall-of-Famer and top-five pound for pound ranked Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, who has remarkably held world titles in three weight divisions (previously a Mexican record).
The once in a life-time shot was originally offered to Australia's leading featherweight in undefeated WBO #8 world-rated "Aussie" Joel Brunker (20-0, 12 KOs). However, an agreement could not be reached and John's team headed by trainer/manager Craig Christian, who were forced to look elsewhere.
In stepped Iannazzo (20-1, 7 KOs), a fighter that has only once fought the scheduled twelve-round championship distance - which was in his lone career defeat against Allan Jay Tuniacao (SD12) for the vacant PABA super-bantamweight title in July last year, but makes up what he lacks in experience with unmistakable swagger and confidence.
For the Melbourne-based fighter dubbed "The Situation", the challenge against John, will not only be a step-up in competition, but a step-up in weight having spent the majority of his professional career as a super-bantamweight - with the occasional appearance in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions in non-title fights.
Iannazzo, 23, currently holds the WBO Asia Pacific Youth super-bantamweight title and is WBO #8 world rated in that same division. On paper, the fight against John makes for very interesting reading - especially when a comparison between the two fighters records is made. The most notable victories on Iannazzo's resume is his sixth-round stoppage of Indonesian trialhorse Rivo Rengkung along with a second-round knockout of Singaporean prospect Mohammad Nor Rizan.
The combined win/loss/draw ratio for John's career opponents stands at an impressive 706-190-23, while Iannazzo's career opponents stand at a modest 119-106-22.
Iannazzo's title-shot against John is no doubt questionable, considering he has held no titles at featherweight at is not rated inside the WBA's top-fifteen at featherweight.
Having said that, this isn't the only shock title-fight that Iannazzo has been offered.
Earlier in the month, Iannazzo was offered a shot at the Commonwealth super-bantamweight title against leading Irish talent Carl Frampton. After a breakdown in negotiations with Matchroom Sports, the fight was later offered to Australian super-bantamweight champion Mark Quon - who Frampton disposed of in four rounds.
Interestingly enough, the purse for the Commonwealth title challenge was significantly more than what is being offered for the dream-shot against John. But given the circumstances, it was a challenge that Iannazzo and his team could not afford to let slide.
The fight will take place on November 30th at Challenge Stadium on the undercard of Danny Green's WBC cruiserweight title-challenge against Krzysztof Wlodarcyzk and will be the second of three world-title fights on the card, beginning with "Wild" Will Tomlinson's IBO super-featherweight title fight against Argentine mauler Vicente Martin Rodriguez.
Follow Brock Ellis on Twitter @brockellis01.