By John Angus MacDonald
The International Boxing Federation (IBF) have ordered that the organisation’s bantamweight title be contested by Emmanuel Rodriguez and Paul Butler.
IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsey Tucker, confirmed to BoxingScene that Rodriguez and Butler’s respective promoters have been contacted and have until Thursday 15th of February to respond.
“They are the two highest ranked contenders. They have three days to confirm they are available,” Tucker said.
The belt was vacated by former unified champion Ryan Burnett who relinquished the title to fulfil his WBA mandatory obligation by facing Yonfrez Parejo, on the undercard of Anthony Joshua against Joseph Parker on March 31.
Burnett’s promoter Eddie Hearn clarified the situation, earlier today.
“The IBF called an interim title bout between Rodriguez and [Lee] Haskins so we proceeded to make the fight with our WBA mandatory Parejo,” said Hearn. “Last week we were notified that that bout would no longer take place and that Rodriguez team were not willing to negotiate, and they called immediate purse bids. Our deal was already in place with Parejo so we will vacate our IBF title and continue to face our WBA mandatory.”
Emanuel Rodriguez (17-0, 12 KOs) is the sanctioning body’s highest ranked contender, sitting at number #3 in the ratings. The 25-year-old Puerto Rican has found it difficult to secure opponents in the past. His manager has previously stated that both Paul Butler and Rodrigo Guerrero rejected the opportunity to face Rodriguez to an interim version of the IBF title. Former champion, Lee Haskins had accepted the contest for the secondary strap, but issues securing a television deal and a venue ultimately scuppered the fight
Paul Butler (26-1, 14 KOs) is currently ranked #4 with the IBF and would be looking to reclaim the title he previously held. Butler claimed the belt with a split decision win over Stuart Hall, in 2014. The Liverpudlian vacated to drop down to super flyweight, where he unsuccessfully challenged Zolani Tete. Butler has since moved back up to 118lbs, and put in a career-best performance against old rival Stuart Hall in September of last year.
Butler is currently scheduled to box on the undercard of Amir Khan v Phil Lo Greco, but he does not have a named opponent, as of yet.