Sunny Edwards waited for more than six weeks to receive a contract for an agreed-upon unification bout.

Instead arriving in his inbox were instructions for his next mandatory title defense. has learned England’s Edwards has been ordered to next defend his IBF flyweight title against mandatory challenger Felix Alvarado. The fight was formally ordered by the IBF on Thursday, with the two sides granted a 30-day free negotiation period before heading to a purse bid hearing.

Edwards (18-0, 4KOs) previously sought a flyweight unification bout with reigning WBC titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (18-2, 14KOs; 2NC), and was prepared to travel to Mexico if necessary for the fight. The two sides tentatively agreed to terms back in July, with a targeted fight date of October 22 in play either in Mexico or England. However, Edwards’ side never received a fight contract from Matchroom Boxing, Martinez’s co-promoter, thus putting the fight in jeopardy. has learned that an official deadline of September 7 was in place to receive signed contracts as proof of the unification fight taking place. A fight with Martinez was the lone exception that the IBF would have granted in lieu of a mandatory title defense which is now in play.

Martinez will reportedly still fight on October 22 in Mexico, though an opponent was not yet named for the rumored fight date.

Nicaragua’s Alvarado (38-2, 33KOs) previously held the IBF junior flyweight title for more than three years, dating back to his October 2018 knockout win over Randy Petalcorin on the road in Pasay City, Philippines. His title reign was slowed by the pandemic, injuries and opponent withdrawals, just making two title defenses along with taking a late non-title fight last August 14 in Frisco, Texas.

Alvarado’s own inability to secure unification bouts led to his vacating the IBF 108-pound title earlier this year. The move was made in exchange for a favorable flyweight ranking as to immediately enter a title fight. One fight has thus far come of his 2022 campaign, a fourth-round knockout of Luis Cerrito Hernandez on May 21 at home in Managua, Nicaragua. He was due to take a stay busy bout later this month in Miami but will likely be pulled as interim fights are generally forbidden once mandatories are officially ordered.

Edwards has held the IBF title since last April 30, outclassing long-reigning champ Moruti Mthalane via unanimous decision in a masterclass performance at York Hall in Bethnal Green, England. Two successful defenses have followed, both resulting in unanimous decision wins in Dubai including a victory over Muhammad Waseem on March 19 in his most recent performance.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox