The claims come from Yuan Orengo, the manager of the IBF’s highest rated fighter – Emmanuel Rodriguez [17(12)-0].
Burnett won the red belt last Summer, dethroning Lee Haskins who was making a special exemption defence. The Belfast boxer then called a special exemption himself to unify with WBA titlist and former gym-mate Zhanat Zhakiyanov.
The IBF are insistent on a mandatory defence taking place next and, with no official mandatory, the berth falls to the #3 ranked Rodriguez. With Burnett taking a little longer to recover from a ruptured neck ligament suffered against Zhakiyanov, the IBF called for an Interim title fight between Rodriguez and Haskins – however this fell apart when Haskins opted to target the EBU European title.
Returning focus to Burnett, the IBF accepted a request from Orengo to go straight to purse bids – which were due to take place next Monday (February 12th) – rather than a period of negotiations.
Bids will go ahead on Monday, however Orengo has told The Gondol that they will not be for a fight between the two 2010 Youth Olympic gold medalists as Burnett has dropped the belt.
He stated that “it’s incredible, but, in order to not fight Manny, Burnett preferred to vacate the title and stay with the WBA.”
“He’s just going to defend the WBA title against another fighter.”
The manager outlined how the bids on Monday will be for a vacant title fight for Rodriguez against IBF #4 – and Burnett’s Matchroom stablemate – Paul Butler, a clash Orengo says will happen on the Amir Khan v Phil Lo Greco undercard in Liverpool on April 21st.
Burnett remains likely to fight on the Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker undercard at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday March 31st.
If Orengo is correct, the bout would be a defence of Burnett’s WBA belt and assumedly against one of the organisation’s Top 15. Promoter Eddie Hearn has recently noted that a mandatory defence of the black belt is falling due, however it is anyone’s guess who the mandatory challenger is.
It would seem to be Jamie McDonnell, the current holder of the ‘regular’ belt – however he has repeatedly stated his intention to move up in weight. The English fighter, another Matchroom stablemate of Burnett, most recently fought WBA #3 Liborio Solis [25(11)-5(0)-1] in a rematch which ended in a no-decision. The Venezuelan had recently been in talks to face Butler, but with an IBF title route seemingly opening for the Ellesmere Port man, Solis may be next on the agenda for Burnett.
Alternatively, the WBA’s #1 ranked fighter is Yonfrez Parejo [21(10)-2(1)-1], another Venezuelan, however he has already been defeated by Zhakiyanov for the Interim belt back in 2015.