According to Fightnews, the IBF has ordered negotiations between lightweights Ali Funeka and Rolando Reyes for its vacant lightweight title. Only a couple of weeks ago, Funeka and Joan Guzman fought to a draw in a bout for the vacant title in a fight that Funeka mostly dominated, with the judges coming out with one of the worst decisions of the year. That was the second time in a row that Funeka fell on hard luck, as he also lost a close decision to Nate Campbell in his previous fight.
Reyes became highly ranked after upsetting Julio Diaz on the Lightweight Lightning card. While he's been inactive since then, he has rattled off a series of good wins since losing to Jose Luis Castillo in 2006 and is a worthy challenger. As a pure counterpuncher, a Funeka-Reyes fight may not be a barnburner, but it could end up being an interesting and technical chess match between two talented fighters.
Officially, because Funeka-Guzman was a draw, the two remain the top ranked contenders by the IBF. However, the official story of the IBF is that they can't order a Funeka-Guzman rematch since Guzman is currently on a short medical suspension due to injuries suffered in the Funeka fight. While that may be the cover story, it seems more like they're trying to right a wrong here, as Funeka should already be the rightful owner of the strap.
Guzman is likely to moan and complain about the IBF's decision, but I don't have too much sympathy. Over the past few years, he's complained that people are ducking him, then he's pulled out of his own fights. Most egregiously, he failed to make weight against Nate Campbell, and rather than fighting over weight (which Campbell agreed to do), he cancelled the fight entirely, forcing a chain reaction that led to Campbell's bankruptcy. On top of the fact that he's been a prima donna, Guzman tried his best to turn the Funeka fight into a stinker, as he's been prone to do in the past, and nobody really wants to see (and it's unlikely that a network would pay for) a rematch of a fight that wasn't particularly exciting and was a one-sided beatdown. Then again, HBO might pick up the fight for $3 million, like they did for Dawson-Tarver II.
For all of the flack we give the sanctioning bodies, it looks like the IBF has gotten it right for once.