Israil Madrimov is determined to fight for the WBA title next. An eventual ruling from the sanctioning body will determine whether that will come versus the belt’s current claimant or in a vacant title fight. has confirmed that steps have been taken by Madrimov and his team to have the WBA enforce his mandatory challenger status. The unbeaten Uzbek is the current top-rated contender to the lone remaining physical title still held by Houston’s Jermell Charlo (35-2-1, 19KOs) who was already forced to relinquish the WBC, IBF and WBO belts.
The development has forced Madrimov (9-0-1, 6KOs) to momentarily park a planned showdown versus Russia’s Magomed Kurbanov (25-0, 13KOs), the WBA number-two contender. Both sides previously confirmed to Boxing Scene {that a} deal was reached though they were still attempting to secure a date and location, along with the potential stakes for such a fight. At the time, it was rumored that it would be a vacant WBA title fight. That would require Charlo to either give up or be relieved of the belt that he has held since September 2020. The next step is to now have the WBA order the mandatory, which would put Charlo on the clock. So far, he has been content to give up his other titles when placed in a similar situation. He was still the undisputed champion when he entered the ring for his lopsided defeat to undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (60-2-2, 39KOs) last September 30 in Las Vegas. Charlo was stripped of his WBO belt the moment the bell sounded to begin the fight. Australia’s Tim Tszyu (24-0, 17KOs) was upgraded from interim to full titlist.
The IBF was next to call its mandatory title defense, a move that was four years in the making. Charlo failed to reach a deal with Russia’s Bakhram Murtazaliev, only to vacate the title just hours before a scheduled purse bid hearing last November. As previously reported by Boxing Scene, Murtazaliev is now due to next face Germany’s Jack Culcay for the vacant IBF title on April 6 in the Berlin suburb of Falkensee, Germany. The full version of the WBC belt will be at stake in the March 30 meeting between Sebastian Fundora and Serhii Bohachuk (23-1, 23KOs), on the March 30 undercard of Tszyu’s non-title fight versus Keith Thurman. Expectations are for Madrimov-Kurbanov to eventually come with the WBA title at stake, though that will have to come in the form of a ruling on how to handle Madrimov’s request to enforce his due mandatory title shot. Madrimov—who is co-promoted by Matchroom Boxing and World of Boxing—has been the mandatory challenger for more than a year but was forced to wait out the rotation for his turn at the division’s top prize. He has not fought since a ten-round win over Houston’s Raphael Igbokwe last April 8 at Boeing Center at Tech Port in San Antonio, Texas. Just one fight came of his 2022 campaign as well, a disappointing technical draw versus Michel Soro after two rounds. The fight came just seven months following Madrimov’s controversial ninth-round stoppage of Soro in their December 2021 meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Kurbanov (25-0, 13KOs) also fought just once in 2023 as well. The Titov Boxing-promoted 28-year-old from Ekaterinburg claimed a highly questionable twelve-round, split decision victory over Soro last May 6 in his hometown, where he has fought most of his career. Prior to the fight versus Soro, Kurbanov also added former titlists Patrick Teixeira and Liam Smith to his resume. He soundly outpointed Teixeira over ten rounds in their July 2022 meeting, which many considered him fortunate to have gotten past Liverpool’s Smith in their May 20212 bout which he won by unanimous decision. Charlo has not made a title defense since he fully unified the junior middleweight division with a tenth-round knockout of Brian Castano in their May 2022 rematch. All three title defenses in his second WBC reign have come in unification bouts; he beat Jeison Rosario via eighth-round knockout to win the WBA and IBF titles in 2020, then added the WBO belt in his rematch with over Castano after the two previously fought to a draw in their July 2021 undisputed bout. Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox