In an unexpected bit of super featherweight news, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reports that representatives for IBF champion Joseph Diaz Jr. are pursuing a fight with mandatory challenger Shavkat Rakhimov over the former’s “contractually obligated” rematch with Tevin Farmer, from whom he took the belt in January.
Rakhimov (15-0, 12 KO) claimed mandatory status last September with an upset knockout of top South African prospect Azinga Fuzile, but the win remains mired in controversy. Footage appeared to show Rakhimov’s trainer administering smelling salts between rounds and local authorities discovered heaps of drugs in his hotel room, which Rakhimov’s manager claimed ownership of. Despite this, the IBF ultimately upheld the win and left Fuzile to compete in another final eliminator with an April 30th, 2021 deadline for the winner’s title shot.
Diaz (31-1, 15 KO) turned in a strong effort to down Farmer (30-5-1, 6 KO) in Miami, though the win was somewhat marred by Farmer injuring his lead hand in the first round and taking a nasty headbutt soon after. Diaz made clear in April that he wanted to defend the title before rematching Farmer, though it remains to be seen whether their contract would allow that.