A title fight whose talks were previously unproductive is now back at the negotiating table.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed the IBF has postponed a purse bid hearing scheduled for Tuesday to have determined promotional rights for the Fernando ‘Puma’ Martinez-Jade Bornea IBF junior bantamweight title fight. An extension was granted by the New Jersey-based sanctioning body after both parties requested an extension.
Martinez is guided by Sean ‘Viva’ Gibbons as head of MP Promotions, while Harrison Whitman is the main point of contact for Bornea as the representative for what’s left of Probellum. Talks took place behind closed doors beginning when the fight was formally ordered last November 29, though the 30-day negotiation period produced little progress.
Faced with the threat of the fight heading to the highest bidder, both sides had a change of heart. Additional time has been granted for what will mark Martinez’s second defense of the IBF 115-pound title he claimed in a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over long-reigning champion Jerwin Ancajas last February 26. Ancajas was among the sport’s longest reigning active titlists at the time of their first meeting, with the loss ending his near five-year title stay with nine successful defenses made amidst a 21-fight unbeaten streak.
Their October 8 rematch saw Martinez (15-0, 8KOs) win in even more convincing fashion to successfully defend the title. The hope on his side was to secure a title unification bout in arguably the most loaded division in the sport, though there didn’t exist any other option.
Lineal champion Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28KOs) and former four-division champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs) were already scheduled for a December 3 trilogy clash, won by Estrada via unanimous decision to regain the vacant WBC title.
Joshua Franco landed the unification bout sought by Ancajas one year prior, taking his upgraded WBA title to Tokyo where he met four-division and reigning WBO champ Kazuto Ioka. The two fought to a draw last New Year’s Eve, with Ioka (29-2, 15KOs) now pressed with a mandatory of his own versus unbeaten former flyweight titlist Junto Nakatani. Franco (18-1-3, 8KOs) and Estrada are both in the voluntary defense phase of their respective title reigns.
The timing is unlucky for Martinez, since the ordered mandatory title defense already started the clock.
IBF Rule 5.D.(b) states that “A Champion’s failure to comply with this obligation will be sufficient cause to have the [IB] Championship Committee and Board of Directors consider withdrawing recognition of the title.”
Similarly, IBF Rule 5.D.(c). contains similar language for any ordered title challenger who refuses to comply.
“The Challenger’s failure to comply with this rule will result in the Championships Committee recognizing the next leading available contender as the mandatory challenger and moving the challenger to a position below #10 in the rankings for at least six months.”
Bornea (18-0, 12KOs) has served as the mandatory challenger for more than a year and is already on record stating he will not step aside under any circumstance. The 27-year-old from General Santos City punched his way to contention with a third-round knockout of Mohammaed Obbadi on January 14 in Monterrey, Mexico. The hope from there was to line up the Martinez-Ancajas I winner, only for a rematch to predate the ordered mandatory title defense.
A stay-busy fight was granted to Bornea, who earned a seventh-round knockout of Ivan Meneses on an August 19 show in La Paz, Mexico.
Should the fight head back to a purse bid hearing, Martinez will be afforded the greater of a 65/35 split of the winning bid as the defending champion.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox