A mandatory title fight more than three years in the making now appears destined for a purse bid hearing.
BoxingScene.com has learned that very little progress has been made in the ordered Jermell Charlo-Bakhram Murtazaliev junior middleweight championship clash. The IBF instructed the respective camps for both boxers to enter talks beginning October 10, but the 30-day period—which ends November 9—has not produced much dialogue between camps.
Charlo fights under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner. TGB Promotions takes the lead for most of its events as well as the point of contact for most of ordered fights involving PBC fighters not specifically tied to a promoter or manager. Murtazaliev is promoted by Main Events and managed by Egis Klimas, although his last five fights have come on PBC-branded events, at least three of which were part of a step-aside package as Charlo sought to fully unify the division.
The bout will mark Charlo’s first mandatory title defense during his second title reign, should he agree to proceed with the fight. He already relinquished the WBO junior middleweight title in lieu of a previously scheduled—and ultimately canceled—clash versus Australia’s Tim Tszyy. He instead moved up two weight divisions for a bigger payday versus fully unified super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (60-2-2, 39KOs).
Charlo (35-2-1, 19KOs) entered the ring under an agreement that he would be announced as the recognized undisputed champion before the WBO would strip him of the title. He then proceeded to drop a landslide decision defeat to Alvarez, though he was able to retain his WBA, WBC and IBF junior middleweight titles.
How many remain in his possession will depend on the level of cooperation from all involved parties as the sanctioning bodies continue to order mandatory title defenses.
Russia’s Murtazaliev (22-0, 15KOs) has long had in his possession verified documentation that he was owed a title shot. The written agreement was in place as Charlo entered the last of three consecutive unification bouts in his tenth-round knockout of Brian Castano in their rematch last May 14 in Carson, California. The two previously met in July 2021, when their full unification bout ended in a split-decision draw.
Charlo’s team agreed to next face Murtazaliev following his desired rematch with Castano. However, those plans were compromised when the WBO trumped the IBF in the mandatory rotation order and instead instructed Charlo to next face Tszyu, which led to the titles being splintered once again.
Murtazaliev has been the mandatory since a November 2019 win over Jorge Fortea in their title eliminator. He has since four times, all buried on Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) non-televised undercards and on at least three occasions with a step-aside package to allow Charlo to fully unify the division.
Charlo is officially out of Teflon as he has exhausted all prior exceptions. IBF rules state that all parties must commit to a fight once ordered by the sanctioning bodies. Ranked challengers who refuse are demoted in the rankings and barred from participating in sanctioned bouts for a minimum of six months. Defending titleholders who refuse to honor an ordered fight are relieved of their title reigns.
It’s an important distinction given his vocal desire for higher profile fights such as undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who has expressed an interest in moving up in weight though more specifically for a super fight versus Alvarez. Crawford (40-0, 31KOs) fully unified the welterweight division with a July 29 ninth-round stoppage of Errol Spence, Charlo’s longtime training stablemate.
Should Charlo either voluntarily relinquish or be stripped of the IBF title, Boxing Scene has learned that Murtazaliev would next face Germany’s Jack Culcay for the vacant title. Both teams have confirmed an interest in such a fight should it come to that.
Charlo’s current reign dates back to his revenge-fueled December 2019 eleventh-round knockout of Tony Harrison to regain the WBC title he lost exactly 52 weeks prior. He since added the WBA and IBF belts in an eighth-round knockout of Jeison Rosario during their September 2020 unification bout and the WBO strap in his aforementioned stoppage of Castano, which marked his last fight at the weight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox