The ordered Jack Catterall-Richardson Hitchins title eliminator will head to a purse bid. has confirmed the IBF-assigned negotiation period ended without a deal in place for the mandated junior welterweight bout. The New Jersey-headquartered sanctioning body has scheduled a January 2 hearing to determine promotional rights for a fight to establish the mandatory contender to IBF 140-pound titlist Subriel Matias (20-1, 20KOs).

Representatives for Catterall and Hitchins both accepted a November 29 invitation from the IBF to enter talks which began on December 5. They were given 15 days to come to terms but could not reach that point in time, nor was an extension yet requested as this goes to publication.

A deal can still be struck at any point up to and including the day of the purse bid hearing. Both boxers are promoted by Matchroom Boxing, who initially informed the IBF of two-way interest to move forward with the fight and will likely land the fight whether through bid or late-hour agreement.

England’s Catterall (28-1, 13KOs) is ranked number-two by the IBF, while Brooklyn’s Hitchins (17-0, 7KOs) is ranked number-four. In between the two is former undisputed champion Josh Taylor (19-1, 13KOs), who will soon exit the rankings and the division to campaign at welterweight.

Catterall has won twice in 2023 after having previously endured an unwelcome 15-month ring absence. The delay was due in large part to his oft-postponed and ultimately canceled rematch versus Taylor, against whom Catterall suffered a controversial split decision defeat last February 26 in Glasgow.

The most recent win for the 30-year-old Chorley-bred southpaw came in a twelve-round decision over former three-division titlist Jorge Linares. Their October 21 DAZN main event in Liverpool saw Catterall win by scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 117-111, and Linares subsequently announced his retirement.

Hitchins has also won twice this year. The 2016 Olympian for Haiti—representing his parents’ roots—soundly outpointed John Bauza in their February 4 battle of unbeaten prospects in New York City. Hitchins outclassed former title challenger Jose Zepeda over twelve rounds in their September 24 DAZN main event from Orlando, Florida.

The winner of the fight will become the mandatory challenger to Puerto Rico’s Matias, who in the meantime will be afforded a voluntary title defense.

The frightening puncher forced two unbeaten opponents to quit after five rounds in separate title fights this year. Matias broke down Argentina’s Jeremias Ponce and forced a stoppage after the fifth round of their February 25 vacant title fight in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He snatched the “0” from Uzbekistan’s Shohjahon Ergashev in similar fashion in a November 25 mandatory title defense in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Per IBF Rule 9C, Catterall and Hitchins are now required to honor the ordered title eliminator to avoid disciplinary action. Any fighter who abandons the purse bid process or does not honor the outcome will receive a demotion in the rankings plus a six-month probation period where they cannot participate in an IBF-sanctioned fight.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox