Belfast’s Ryan Burnett [18(9)-0] is the organisation’s current champion having dethroned Lee Haskins in Belfast back in June.
That fight was a special exception for Haskins who was due to make a mandatory defence. Burnett then was allowed an exception himself to face WBA champion Zhanat Zhakiyanov in October, where he unified the belts.
Burnett needed to make a mandatory defence afterwards, however he sustained a ruptured ligament in his neck and will be out of the ring until next April at the earliest.
By then it would have been over a year and a half since a mandatory defence had been made, and thus the IBF have ordered an Interim title fight – with the winner theoretically then taking on Burnett for the full title.
The body have pitted their #3 Emmanuel Rodriguez [17(12)-0] and #6 Haskins [35(14)-4(3)] against each other for this created belt. With the #1 and #2 spots vacant, Puerto Rican Rodriguez is the highest ranked fighter with the IBF, and this fight is essentially a final eliminator.
Haskins’s team, the Sanigars, will announce a date and venue for the secondary title fight in the near future.
Rather than wait around until the Summer to face the winner, it looks likely that Burnett will take a fight in the meantime – and a clash with Matchroom stablemate and the #4-ranked Paul Butler, perhaps on the Bellew-Haye 2 pay-per-view undercard in London on Saturday May 5th seems a possibility.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)