The opportunity won’t come in time for a fight date once teased to house their fight, but Kudratillo Abdukakhorov and Sergey Lipinets will have the opportunity to move one step closer to a welterweight title.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the International Boxing Federation (IBF) is in the process of ordering an interim title fight, with the winner to land as a challenger in waiting for unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. A letter has been sent to representatives for Abdukakhorov and Lipinets, both of whom will have five (5) days accept the sanctioning body’s offer to challenge for the interim title.
Sources with knowledge of the situation have alerted BoxingScene.com that both parties are interested in such a fight. Once they both officially accept the offer, a 30-day negotiation period will be ordered by the IBF for the two sides to come to terms.
Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9KOs) is managed by Vikram Swapragasam and promoted by Top Rank, Inc. Lipinets—a Kazakhstan-born former 140-pound titlist now based out of California—fights for manager Alex Vaysfeld and proudly under adviser Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner, for which he will be represented in forthcoming negotiations by TGB Promotions.
Such a bout was once teased to take place on the undercard of the February 22 rematch between unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41KOs) and top-rated heavyweight Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20KOs), but with those plans abandoned due to the lack of clarity of the exact stakes of such a fight.
Abdukakhorov has long served as the mandatory challenger to the IBF strap which Spence (26-0, 21KOs) claimed in a May 2017 knockout win over Errol Spence. The unbeaten Texan has since added the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight title following a spirited 12-round win over Shawn Porter in their unification bout and Fight of the Year contender last September.
Shortly after the win, however, Spence survived a horrific scare after suffering non life-threatening injuries sustained in a single car crash last October in downtown Dallas. The 29-year old was ejected from his sports car, which was totaled in the wreck, and spent six days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) before being released and subsequently charged with a single misdemeanor count of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
Abdukakhorov took a risky stay busy fight last October, outpointing former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo in an ESPN-televised bout from Philadelphia. The 26-year old Uzbek was prepared to take another voluntary fight while awaiting word on Spence’s status, but with plans put on hold once the possibility arose of fighting for an interim or even full version of the title.
Spence announced last December his intention to return to the ring this summer. Awaiting him will be two mandatory title defenses, with medical records indicating he should be fully fit to fight by no later than July.
The medical status was key in an interim title being made available by the IBF, with Abdukakhorov first in line as the sanctioning body’s highest-rated contender.
Lipinets (16-1, 12KOs) fits into the picture as the next-highest rated contender. The no-nonsense former 140-pound titlist has sought to make his way back to the title scene ever losing his strap in a 12-round decision to Mikey Garcia last March.
Three wins have followed, including a 10th round knockout of former two-division title claimant Lamont Peterson in their Fight-of-the-Year level war this past March. He’s since followed with a two-round wipeout of Jayar Inson, a late replacement for an ill John Molina Jr. last July in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the event Abdukakhorov and Lipinets both accept the IBF offer and come to terms, the two will likely collide in the spring. While the winner is guaranteed a path to the full title, it won’t ensure a straightaway shot at Spence. Due to the agreed upon rotation between sanctioning bodies, the WBC will be next in line.
Still, it puts a pair of generally avoided contenders in Abdukakhorov and Lipinets in a much better position than ever before to make a run at the top level of the talent-rich and lucrative welterweight division.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox