By Keith Idec
As expected, the IBF has elevated Jose Uzcategui from its interim super middleweight champion to super middleweight champ now that James DeGale has given up that title.
The IBF also revealed Thursday that it has ordered Uzcategui to make a mandatory defense of his 168-pound championship against Caleb Plant. Handlers for Uzcategui and Plant have been given until August 5 to come to an agreement or a purse bid will be ordered.
The 25-year-old Plant, a native of Ashland City, Tennessee, is ranked No. 2 by the IBF among its super middleweight contenders. The top spot in the IBF’s 168-pound ratings is vacant.
Plant (17-0, 10 KOs) out-boxed Mexico’s Rogelio Medina (38-9, 32 KOs) to win his most recent bout by unanimous decision, a 12-rounder February 17 in El Paso, Texas.
Venezuela’s Uzcategui (27-2, 23 KOs) won the IBF’s interim title from Andre Dirrell (26-3, 16 KOs) in their rematch March 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The 27-year-old Uzcategui battered Dirrell until Dirrell’s cut man, Jacob “Stitch” Duran, instructed a New York State Athletic Commission official to have referee Ricky Gonzalez stop their bout before the ninth round started.
The IBF ordered a purse bid June 25 for DeGale-Uzcategui because their handlers hadn’t come to an agreement within the allowable 30 days. It was scheduled for noon Thursday at the IBF’s headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey, but it was canceled Tuesday because DeGale gave up his title rather than moving forward with a fight against Uzcategui.
The 32-year-old DeGale relinquished the IBF title to pursue higher-profile fights that’ll make him more money.
England’s DeGale regained the IBF 168-pound championship April 7, when he beat Minnesota’s Caleb Truax by unanimous decision in their immediate 12-round rematch in Las Vegas. Truax (29-4-2, 18 KOs) recorded one of boxing’s biggest upsets of 2017 when he traveled to London and defeated DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs) by majority decision December 9 to take the IBF super middleweight championship from him.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.