Here’s a development with a lot going on under the surface: Fernando Barbosa revealed earlier today that the IBF has ordered Josh Taylor to defend his super lightweight titles against Jeremias Ponce, with Jake Donovan adding that the two have until August 23rd to avoid a purse bid.
On paper, this seems pretty self-explanatory. When Taylor (19-0, 13 KO) beat Jose Ramirez Jr for the undisputed title, the sanctioning bodies got in line; best as I can tell, the order was supposed to be WBO->WBC->WBA->IBF. Fighting Jack Catterall fulfilled the WBO requirement, only for the WBA to jump the gun and order him to face Alberto Puello. When Taylor declined and got stripped, the WBC ordered him to face Jose Zepeda, but Taylor elected to string “Chon” along before dumping the belt.
That means it’s the IBF’s turn, and since Taylor hasn’t faced an IBF mandatory since smashing the woefully outmatched Apinun Khongsong nearly two years ago. With Taylor allegedly chasing a rematch with Catterall, the IBF is well within its rights to order this matchup.
I mean, hell, Taylor hasn’t even made tangible progress towards any fight for the last five months.
What makes it strange is that Ponce (30-0, 20 KO) isn’t exactly the mandatory. To accommodated Taylor’s other obligations at the time, they ordered a four-man playoff to determine the next mandatory, and the semis saw Ponce beat Lewis Ritson. This was supposed to set up a final eliminator with Subriel Matias, who took out Batyrzhan Jukembayev a month prior; the pair agreed to put that on hold while Taylor figured out whether to vacate or not, then got the official order this past June.
The two sides were apparently looking at an October date before this news broke.
My best guess, as a comment on that Tweet mentions, is that this is an effort by the IBF to get Taylor to vacate in a timely manner. Taylor stretched things out as long as he could with the WBC and WBA belts, which already caused issues when Ramirez missed out on a vacant title shot due to a scheduling conflict with his wedding. It’s blatantly clear at this point that Taylor has no intention of staying at 140 after a Catterall fight, so this allows them to avoid any further diva antics and put Ponce-Matias together for the full belt.