By Jake Donovan
Troubled two-time middleweight titlist Jermain Taylor is a champion no more. The jailed boxer was formally stripped of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) middleweight belt, due to his current legal troubles standing in the way of honoring his mandatory obligations.
"We had to vacate the title," IBF Championship Chairman Lindsay Tucker told BoxingScene.com, confirming news originally
revealed by Scott Shaffer of BoxingTalk.com
. "We will be going down the list of challengers to fill the vacancy."
The current mandatory challenger, Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam is now in line to fight for the vacant title. The next highest-rated contender is former titlist Felix Sturm, who is ranked #3 by the IBF.
"We are waiting to hear back from the Sturm camp," Tucker confirmed. "If he accepts, we will order the fight and the two camps will have to negotiate terms. If he declines, we will continue to go down the list."
Taylor was due to defend his title tonight versus Sergio Mora at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., the same venue where he regained the belt with a win over Sam Soliman last October.
Plans to return to the Gulf Coast were violently disrupted due to his latest run-in with the law, when he was arrested on a slew of charges stemming from his disturbing behavior during a Martin Luther King Jr. parade in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Taylor was initially freed on bail, but the criminal charges were in violation of the terms of his previous release following a domestic shooting in his home last August. The latest arrest resulted in a bond revocation, forcing his surrender to Pulaski County authorities on January 21.
Mora remains on the show, facing Abraham 'Abie' Han for a regional title in the ESPN2 Friday Night Fights headliner. The winner will acquire the USBA title, which could also result in a considerable elevation in the rankings. Mora and Han are currently rated #14 and #15, respectively, too low in the rankings to warrant consideration to fill the vacant #2 slot, which would've guaranteed the winner a shot at N'Dam and the vacant IBF belt.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox