The previous order was rescinded once it was realized that the WBA remained next in line, this time around with Tapales due his title shot. The two sides will have until October 25 to work out a deal to avoid a purse bid hearing.

“[The] mandatory title defense was due on or before January 3, 2022,” Carlos Ortiz, chairman of IBF championship committee stated to Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn (Akhmadaliev) and MP Promotions’ Sean Gibbons (Tapales) via official letter, a copy of which was obtained by “The leading available contender is #1 Marlon Tapales. Negotiations should commence immediately and be concluded by October 25, 2022.

“If you are unable to come to an agreement for this bout by October 25, 2022., the IBF will call for a purse bid.”

Akhmadaliev (11-0, 8KOs) has defended his unified titles three since dethroning Danny Roman in their memorable January 2020 clash in Miami Gardens, Florida. The unbeaten southpaw from Chust, Uzbekistan—who trains out of Joel Diaz’s facility in Indio, California—is coming off a 12th-round stoppage of WBA mandatory challenger Ronny Rios in their rescheduled bout on June 25 in San Antonio, Texas.

Rios was due to face Akhmadaliev last November 19, only to have to withdraw after testing positive for Covid. Akhmadaliev remained on the November 19 DAZN show in Manchester, New Hampshire, facing and beating late replacement Joselito Velasquez over twelve rounds.

Initial confusion came in determining what next awaited the unified titlist. It was believed that Rios lost his place in line, prompting the IBF calling for the Akhmadaliev-Tapales fight on January 8, only to have to rescind after realizing that Rios was still due his title shot through the WBA.

Akhmadaliev’s last IBF mandatory came last April 3, when he scored a fifth-round knockout of IBF mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The bout was his first in his home country since an amateur tournament in 2017, one year after claiming a Bronze medal for Uzbekistan in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Along with MP Promotions, Tapales is also represented by Sanman Boxing, Shapiro Sports and Viva Promotions.

The 30-year-old southpaw from Kapatagan, Philippines punched his way back into title contention following a second-round knockout of Hiroaki Teshigawara. The bout served as a title eliminator at the request of Tapales’ team. Tapales rose to the occasion, flooring Teshigawara three times in just 3:06 worth of ring action in forcing the stoppage in their December 11 clash.

It was a far more memorable ending than his previous title eliminator, two years almost to the day of his win over Teshigawara.

Tapales suffered an eleventh-round stoppage to Iwasa in their December 2019 eliminator in Brooklyn, New York, which ended a twelve-fight win streak. He has since won three straight heading into his first career title fight, including a second-round knockout of Jose Estrella in a stay-busy affair on May 14 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

"It’s been a long time," Gibbons told “Marlon had his opportunity a few years ago and kind of got a raw deal. There was a headbutt ruled as a knockdown and he never really recovered. But he worked his way back by winning another eliminator.

“He won’t waste his time to becoming unified world champion. Marlon is in the US and will not go home until he has two belts.”

Per IBF purse bid rules, neither fighter is permitted to enter an agreement for another bout during the period for the ordered title fight.

This prevents Akhmadaliev from pursuing bigger fights, such as a four-belt undisputed showdown with WBC/WBO junior featherweight titlist Stephen Fulton (20-0, 8KOs). Such a fight was never formally discussed by either side, other than being casually mentioned by Fulton as a desired—though largely unrealistic—option for his next fight.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox