The winner of the forthcoming undisputed junior welterweight championship showdown between Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor will have several mandatory challengers waiting in the wings.
At least one doesn’t plan to get in the way of the aforementioned fight or the immediate plans for whomever ultimately prevails.
A four-man tournament has been ordered by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) to determine the next junior welterweight mandatory contender, BoxingScene.com has learned. Two bouts are currently in talks for this spring—Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias (16-1, 16KOs) and Kazakhstan’s Batyzhan Jukembayev (18-0, 14KOs) on one side the bracket, while England’s Lewis Ritson (21-1, 12KOs) and Argentina’s Jeremias Ponce (27-0, 17KOs) are due to meet in the second title eliminator.
Once terms are reached for both bouts, the winners will then meet later this year to determine the number-one contender to the IBF title currently held by Scotland’s Taylor (17-0, 13KOs) who is also the WBA titlist.
Ramirez (26-0, 17KOs) currently owns the WBC and WBO belts, both of which have mandatory title defenses waiting in the wings. For now, the 28-year-old from Avenal, California merely has to focus on his May 22 four-belt showdown versus Taylor at a venue to be determined in the United States.
Matias’ representatives have suggested to the media in Puerto Rico that his bout with Jukembayev could take place by then. BoxingScene.com has been informed, however, that a date has yet to be assigned to the fight.
Matias—who is coming off of a 6th round knockout of unbeaten Malik Hawkins last October—is represented by Juan Orengo and who also fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner. Jukembayev—a former amateur standout in Kazakhstan who is now based out of Montreal—is managed by Rick Mirigian through MTK Global with whom he signed this past February.
Mirigian is also the career-long manager for Ramirez.
Ritson has won four straight since suffering the lone loss of his career, although his last victory has been called into question. The 27-year old from Newcastle, England was considered fortunate to have escaped with a 12-round split decision win over former lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez last October in Peterborough, England.
Ponce has managed two fights since the pandemic, both taking place in his native Argentina. Prior to that, the 27-year-old came up big on the road in his most notable win to date, a 12-round majority decision over Rico Mueller to claim the IBO junior welterweight belt which he still holds.
The last man standing in the proposed IBF tournament will have to wait through the rotation system in place for unified titlists. The winner of Ramirez-Taylor will wind up with at least three, perhaps four if the WBA decides to enforce its rules (Mario Barrios is the secondary titlist, while Albert Puello holds the interim belt).
Jose Zepeda is the WBC mandatory challenger, while England’s Jack Catterall is next in line above all as he is due a crack at the WBO junior welterweight title.
As it relates to the IBF, Taylor satisfied his mandatory obligation versus Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong whom he stopped inside of one round last September at York Hall.
Ramirez settled his WBC mandatory obligation with a 12-round decision win over number-one contender and former titlist Viktor Postol last August at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox