Teofimo Lopez Jr. is now pressed with a deadline to honor his next mandatory obligation.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) has officially ordered a lightweight title fight between Lopez—as the defending champion—and unbeaten number-one contender George Kambosos Jr. The New Jersey-based sanctioning body notified both camps on Friday of a 30-day free negotiations period, during which time they are required to reach a deal to avoid a purse bid hearing.

“IBF Lightweight Champion Teofimo Lopez won the Title on December 14, 2019. His mandatory defense was due on or before September 14, 2020. The leading available number one contender is George Kambosos Jr. George Kambosos Jr.,” Carlos Ortiz, chairman of the IBF Championship Committee stated in an official notification to both parties, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Negotiations should commence immediately and be concluded by February 6, 2021.

“If you are unable to come to an agreement for this bout within 30 days, the IBF will call for a purse bid.”

The ruling puts Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) in an unavoidable bind to honor his overdue mandatory obligation, which would rule out any plans for an undisputed title fight showdown with WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs). Exemptions are occasionally granted under such circumstances, though almost never once a fight is formally ordered.

Brooklyn’s Lopez entered the one-year anniversary of his IBF title reign by adding two more belts to his collection, claiming the WBA and WBO straps in a 12-round decision win over Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko last October 17th in Las Vegas. Two weeks later came the emergence of Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) as his mandatory challenger, by virtue of his unanimous decision win over Lee Selby in their final eliminator last Halloween on the road in England.

Penalties are in place should either side abandon the ordered title fight.

“A Champion’s failure to comply with this obligation will be sufficient cause to have the Championships Committee and Board of Directors consider withdrawing recognition of the title,” notes Ortiz. “If the mandatory challenger agrees to fight the Champion and they are unable to negotiate the terms of the bout within thirty (30) days, they have the obligation to proceed to a purse bid under the procedure set forth in Rule 10.

“The Challenger’s failure to comply with this rule will result in the Championships Committee recognizing the next leading available contender as the mandatory challenger and moving the challenger to a position below #10 in the rankings for at least 6 months.”

Lopez is represented by Top Rank and manager David McWater. Kambosos fights under the DiBella Entertainment banner and managed by Peter Kahn. All parties have been in talks for such a fight well before being ordered by the IBF. Tentative plans called for a springtime clash in Australia, to air on an ESPN platform. However, financial terms have not been agreed upon, despite false reports of either side being presented a contract for such a contest.

Either party can call for a purse bid at any time during negotiations.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox