Rene Mark Cuarto will head into the holiday season with a win in the bank and revenge on his mind.

The former IBF strawweight champion scored a second-round knockout of countryman Dexter Alimento in his first fight since the end of his title reign. A body shot caused a delayed reaction knockdown, with Alimento taking the full ten-count to end the fight at 1:06 of round two Friday at Baliok Gym in Davao City, Philippines.

With the win, Cuarto preserved his place in line as the mandatory challenger for his old IBF strawweight title currently held by Daniel Valladares (26-3-1, 15KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico. Valladares outpointed Cuarto via split decision to win the IBF strawweight title on July 1 in San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico.

The first title defense will see the 28-year-old Valladares hit the road, as he will face Tokyo’s Ginjiro Shigeoka (8-0, 6KOs) as part of a January 6 strawweight title fight doubleheader from EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan. The show also features WBO strawweight titlist Masataka Taniguchi in his second title defense versus Melvin Jerusalem (19-2, 11KOs), a former title challenger from General Santos City.

Cuarto won the IBF title in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over countryman Pedro Taduran last February 27 in General Santos City. All three judges scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Cuarto, who jumped out to a strong start and was able to fend off a late rally by Taduran to preserve his first title win.

The two met in a match this past February 6 in Digos City. Cuarto once again prevailed, this time via technical majority decision.

The wild affair saw Taduran floored in rounds two and six, the later knockdown providing the margin of victory for Cuarto who overcame a two-point deduction for an intentional foul. Cuarto was ahead on two of the three scorecards (66-64, 65-64, 65-65) when the fight was stopped in round seven after an accidental headbutt left Taduran with a cut along his forehead and unable to continue.  

The Valladares-Shigeoka winner will have 90 days to honor the mandatory title defense versus Cuarto.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox