One day after Terence Crawford vacated one of his junior welterweight world titles only 11 days after becoming the undisputed world champion, the fight to fill the vacancy was ordered.
The IBF on Thursday announced that it has ordered Sergey Lipinets, who loomed as one of Crawford’s mandatory challengers in a fight due immediately, to face Akihiro Kondo, the organization’s next leading contender.
According to the sanctioning body, both boxers have indicated in writing that they are willing to participate in the bout and it ordered negotiations to begin immediately.
The sides have until Sept. 30 to make a deal, otherwise the IBF will order a purse bid to determine who gains promotional control of the fight.
On Aug. 19, Crawford knocked out Julius Indongo with a body shot in the third round to unify all four 140-pound world title belts, joining former middleweight champions Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor as the only men in the four-belt era to hold all four sanctioning body titles at the same time.
Lipinets loomed as Indongo’s mandatory challenger, but Indongo was given an exception in order to face Crawford in the unification fight. When Crawford won, he inherited the mandatory obligation.
With a pure bid scheduled for Thursday for Crawford-Lipinets, and Crawford and promoter Top Rank unclear on what his next move would be — though it is likely a move to the welterweight division — they sent a letter to the IBF on Wednesday in which Crawford thanked the organization for the chance to win its title and relinquished it. Crawford still owns the WBO, WBC and WBA titles.
The 28-year-old Lipinets (12-0, 10 KOs), a native of Kazakhstan fighting out of Los Angeles, knocked out Lenny Zappavigna in the eighth round of a title elimination fight to become the IBF-designated mandatory challenger in December.
Kondo (29-6-1, 16 KOs), 32, of Japan, has won eight fights in a row but has never beaten a top opponent and is an unknown to even hardcore boxing fans.