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IBF orders Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Melvin Lopez for vacant bantamweight title

Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez are ranked no. 2 and no. 4, respectively, by the sanctioning body

Deontay Wilder v Robert Helenius Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The post-Inoue bantamweight rebuild is rumbling along, as the IBF has officially ordered Emmanuel Rodriguez to fight Melvin Lopez for their vacant title.

Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KO) sits at no. 2 in the rankings behind Vincent Astrolabio, who knocked out Nikolai Potapov in an eliminator last December. It looks as though “Asero” will instead fight Jason Moloney for the WBO belt, and since Moloney is no. 3 with the IBF, that opens the door for no. 4 Lopez (29-1, 19 KO).

“Melo,” 25, has been rather quiet since suffering a comeback knockout loss to future super bantamweight title challenger Jose Velasquez in 2019. He definitely looks like an IBF contender in the Apinun Khongsong sense, but hey, we’ve been surprised before.

Honestly, I’m just glad Rodriguez is getting another title shot after the Reymart Gaballo debacle and that mess with Gary Antonio Russell. He’s been a quality operator for ages and definitely deserves the opportunity to fight for a belt.

That’s now three vacant title fights either ordered or scheduled: this, Takuma Inoue vs Liborio Solis (WBA), and Nonito Donaire vs Alejandro Santiago (WBC). We’ll let you know when the WBO chimes in.

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