Despite Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs Stephen Fulton being among the most obviously necessary matchups in any division and Eddie Hearn claiming all the way back in June that there were “no obstacles,” it looks like we’re in for a wait. Dan Rafael reports that the IBF has ordered “MJ” to defend his titles against mandatory challenger Marlon Tapales, who defeated Hiroaki Teshigawara in a final eliminator last December.
The pair have until October 25th to come to terms.
Tapales (36-3, 19 KO) enjoyed a one-fight reign at bantamweight, knocking out Punguluang Sor Singyu for the WBO belt in 2016 before losing it on the scales ahead of a win over Shohei Omori. Three wins over bottom-rung opposition earned him a shot at the interim IBF super bantamweight title, which saw him suffer his first loss since 2013 at the hands of Ryosuke Iwasa.
He’s fought just three times in nearly three years, two squash matches and that wipeout of Teshigawara.
Still, it should be a nice scrap, and it’ll clear the last of Akhmadaliev’s (11-0, 8 KO) obligations after June’s beatdown of Ronny Rios got the WBA off of his back. If we have Fulton fight Ra’eese Aleem while Akhmadaliev’s busy with Tapales, things would work out nicely.