By Keith Idec
The IBF has ordered an elimination match to determine the next mandatory challenger for Errol Spence Jr., its welterweight champion.
The IBF has given Jessie Vargas a Monday deadline, by which he must determine whether he’ll accept a fight against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov that’ll establish its mandatory contender for Spence. Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov (15-0, 9 KOs) is ranked No. 4 by the IBF among its 147-pound contenders, one spot below the third-ranked Vargas (28-2-2, 10 KOs).
The No. 1 position in the IBF’s welterweight rankings is vacant.
Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs) is ranked No. 2 by the IBF and won an IBF elimination match February 17, when he stopped Philadelphia’s Ray Robinson (24-3, 12 KOs) in the seventh round in Las Vegas. Ugas since has won a WBC eliminator – a 12-round unanimous decision over Argentina’s Cesar Barrioneuvo (34-4-2, 24 KOs, 1 NC) on September 8 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn – but Ugas is ranked just No. 6 by the WBC at 147 pounds.
The 29-year-old Vargas, a former WBO welterweight champion and ex-WBA super lightweight title-holder, would represent a step up in competition for the 25-year-old Abdukakhorov, who made his pro debut in October 2015.
Las Vegas’ Vargas fought to a 12-round draw with Puerto Rico’s Thomas Dulorme (24-3-1, 16 KOs) on Saturday night in Chicago. That marked a second straight majority draw for Vargas, whose 12-round welterweight battle with Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) also resulted in two judges scoring their action even April 21 at Barclays Center.
Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), of DeSoto, Texas, most recently made a mandatory defense of his IBF welterweight title June 16. He knocked out Mexico’s Carlos Ocampo (23-1, 14 KOs) in the first round that night at the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility, Ford Center at The Star, in Frisco, Texas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.