Per Hearn, Cordina’s (15-0, 9 KO) title shot against Kenichi Ogawa came with the requirement that the winner then face mandatory challenger Shavkat Rakhimov (16-0-1, 13 KO), who has been due a shot at the belt since early 2021 but ran into delays and injury, within 90 days. After Cordina knocked out Ogawa, he began negotiations, only to suffer a hand injury in training.
Hearn then petitioned the IBF to allow an extension, which both they and Rakhimov promoter Egis Klimas agreed to. Cordina then returned to training and broke that hand, leaving him out of action until March.
With this context, the stripping is reasonable. While it was obviously outside of Cordina’s control, the IBF did go out of its way to both allow Cordina to jump the line against Ogawa and give him extra time to face Rakhimov. Rakhimov deserves his shot at the full title, and the IBF have already ordered him to face no. 2 Zelfa Barrett (28-1, 16 KO) for it. Hearn claims he wants to stage the fight on the November 5th Bivol vs Zurdo card, the same slot originally held by Cordina.
There is, however, good news for Cordina: he’ll be installed as the number one contender, and once he’s good to go in March, he’ll be in line to challenge for the belt again.
Honestly, seems like this was handled as best it could have been. The only other option was to set up an interim title fight, but I think we’ve had enough of those.