It’ll be awhile before the next IBF mandatory junior welterweight contender gets his shot; WBO mandatory Jack Catterall is officially next in line for the winner of Jose Ramirez vs Josh Taylor and the most recent mandatory, Apinun Khongsong, already got his ill-fated shot last September. Luckily, the sanctioning body has come up with a novel way to fill the time: a four-man tournament that kicks off with Subriel Matias vs Batyrzhan Jukembayev and Lewis Ritson vs Jeremias Ponce.
The IBF first ordered Ritson-Ponce in February; Matias’ manager revealed the tournament this past Sunday and various sources confirmed the news earlier today.
Matias (16-1, 16 KO) looked like an immediate contender in his infamous and ultimately fatal victory over Maxim Dadashev, but suffered a shock upset loss to unheralded Petros Ananyan his next time out. He appeared to return to form eight months later, however, battering previously unbeaten Malik Hawkins into submission.
If Jukembayev’s (18-0, 14 KO) name rings a bell, it’s because he signed with MTK and Rick Mirigian late last month. He’s been treading water a bit, though he did notably dominate Miguel Vazquez in 2019 and certainly seems skilled enough to make a title run.
My guess is whoever wins between these two wins it all.
Ritson (21-1, 12 KO) has won four straight since falling to Francesco Patera in 2018. He scored his biggest victory to date in October 2019 with a competitive decision over Robbie Davies Jr, but needed some criminal judging to get past the aforementioned Vazquez last time out.
Argentina’s Ponce (27-0, 17 KO) claimed the IBO title back in 2019 by beating Rico Mueller in hostile territory. He’s since returned to the local circuit with a pair of wins, including a decision over journeyman Jonathan Jose Eniz in December.