By Steve Kim
This past Friday night from the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, Robert Easter made the first successful defense of his IBF lightweight title by out-pointing Luis Cruz over twelve rounds (flooring the Puerto Rican challenger three times in the late rounds).
Now, Easter (19-0, 14 KO's) must face his mandatory challenger, Denis Shafikov, who is trained by veteran coach Abel Sanchez. The sanctioning body has ordered the two fighters to reach a deal or their bout will head to a purse bid.
"Robert Easter was notified on Monday that he has to start negotiations with Shafikov, they have thirty days," said Lindey Tucker, the Championship Chairman of the IBF, told BoxingScene.com. "If they don't reach an agreement by then we'll call for a purse bid."
And if this fight goes to a purse bid, the winner has a 90-day window to make the fight.
The two boxers have a very tough common opponent.
Shafikov earned the number one position in the IBF by narrowly defeating Richard Commey via split decision in Russia on December 2nd in what was an IBF eliminator. Easter, won his belt by beating Commey back on September 10th in what was another split nod that went against the Ghanian.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.