If Jermell Charlo wants to fight Tim Tszyu upon his return to 154 lbs, he’ll have to shed a belt to do so, as Dan Rafael reports that the IBF has ordered Charlo to face longtime mandatory challenger Bakhram Murtazaliev.
The two have until November 9th to avoid a purse bid.
Murtazaliev (21-0, 15 KO) has been in line for a title shot since Julian Williams held the belt, having beaten Jorge Fortea in a November 2019 final eliminator.
He then stepped aside three times to clear the way for Charlo’s (35-2-1, 19 KO) fights with Jeison Rosario and Brian Castano, and though Charlo signed a contract to face Murtazaliev immediately afterwards, Murtazaliev again stepped aside to allow the Tszyu fight with the expectation that he face the winner.
We all know how that turned out.
Murtazaliev could hypothetically step aside a fifth time, as Charlo vs Tszyu is now a unification fight instead of an undisputed title defense, but his comments suggest that he’s done feasting on the likes of Roberto Valenzuela Jr.
As I’ve said before, he’s not a particularly compelling challenger. Having multiple belts means taking on additional responsibilities, though, and it would be nice to see Charlo forced to honor them. His team scheduling the Tszyu fight so long after Castano 2 is what set this whole trainwreck into motion, after all.