The IBF has retained Sam Soliman as its No.1-ranked middleweight contender while waiting for an appeal against a drug test result earlier this year.
The International Boxing Federation (IBF) has decided to keep Sam Soliman as its No.1-rated middleweight contender, while the Australian waits for the result of his appeal against a ban for a drug test in Germany earlier this year.
The decision means Soliman is still on course for a mandatory shot at the title of compatriot Daniel Geale, who makes a voluntary defence against Englishman Darren Barker next month.
Soliman's manager David Stanley expects to finalise his fighter's next opponent within two weeks.
He is in discussions with the connections of a number of top-five ranked fighters across different organisations.
The German Bund Deutscher Berufsboxwer (BDB), banned Soliman for nine months after declaring he had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug following his win over Felix Sturm in Dusseldorf back in February.
The BDB also altered the result to a no-contest.
The Soliman camp subsequently lodged an appeal with the BDB after revealing the Australian boxer's B sample cleared him of taking any illicit substances under IBF drug protocols.
Stanley said the ban had been suspended after the appeal was lodged.
Team Soliman put their case to the IBF at its recent annual conference in Berlin and it has ruled the Australian will hold onto his No.1 ranking.
Sturm was given the No.3 rating and will fight fourth-ranked contender, Predrag Radosevic, in Germany on July 6 in an IBF title eliminator for the No.2 position.
While Soliman could be in the mix for the next mandatory challenge due in late 2013, it's more likely he will have his IBF mandated shot in mid-2014.
Patient Soliman, 39, hasn't lost a fight in five years.
"The IBF's decision acknowledges I did not knowingly take any substance that was performance-enhancing and that I did not take any substance that was listed as banned in the IBF bout agreement that I signed for the Sturm fight," Soliman said.
"I am extremely grateful and relieved with the result.
"My determination to become the IBF's world middleweight champion is unwavering.
"I'm back on track and it's a good feeling. I'm only two fights away from tasting the glory.
"I'm training hard and am in the best form of my boxing career."