After four years of sidestepping IBF mandatory challenger Bakhram Murtazaliev, former undisputed super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo has finally vacated the belt ahead of today’s scheduled purse bid.
Murtazaliev (21-0, 15 KO) will be ordered to face the “next leading available contender” for the title. Jack Culcay currently sits at no. 2 after amassing an eight-fight winning streak since his 2019 loss to Sergiy Derevyanchenko, but the IBF’s press release claims Murtazaliev’s opponent is “to be determined.”
Having previously sacrificed the WBO belt to “fight” Canelo Alvarez last month, Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KO) is down to just the WBC and WBA titles. The WBC revealed last week that with their interim belt vacant following Brian Mendoza’s loss to Tim Tszyu, Sebastian Fundora and Serhii Bohachuk will square off for it while Charles Conwell faces TBA in a final eliminator.
Assuming the WBA actually enforces its rules, that leaves mandatory challenger Israil Madrimov (9-0-1, 6 KO) as Charlo’s presumptive next opponent. Seeing as Madrimov is higher-risk than Murtazaliev while offering the same reward, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Charlo continue his Josh Taylor arc and ditch that one, too.
I’m not shedding tears over the fact that we’ll never see Charlo share a ring with Murtazaliev, but the fact is that Charlo signed a contract promising to fight Murtazaliev as part of the agreement that made his fights with Brian Castano possible. I’ve seen a scan of that contract and there wasn’t a shred of wiggle room in there. Going back on his word is a punk move by any definition, and if he has even an ounce of self-respect, he better not cry about this the way he cried about the WBO rightfully stripping him.
Anyone want to hazard a guess as to who he’ll meet in his one fight of 2024?