Between Naoya Inoue’s impending arrival and Marlon Tapales’ upset of Murodjon Akhmadaliev to claim the IBF and WBA titles, super bantamweight is in a weird place at the moment. A new head-scratching development dropped yesterday, but first, a bit of backstory.
Back in November, the WBC ordered a four-man mini-tourney to decide their next mandatory challenger. The first semi-final saw Luis Nery overpower Azat Hovhannisyan in what remains one of 2023’s best fights. The other was supposed to pit David Picasso against Ra’eese Aleem; when negotiations fell through, they went to a March 31st purse bid, which Zanfer Promotions won with a $200,500 offer.
A month of complete radio silence followed. Now, Fox Sports AU’s Nick Walshaw reports that Aleem will instead battle Sam Goodman in an IBF final eliminator as chief support for Tim Tszyu’s planned summer return. The card’s “final details” are “set to be confirmed in coming days.”
I’m assuming the WBC will just chuck Picasso in with Nery and call it square.
The 24-year-old Goodman (14-0, 7 KO) is coming off his biggest win to date, a one-sided decision over TJ Doheny on the undercard of Tszyu’s stoppage of Tony Harrison in March. He should make for a really solid fight with Aleem (20-0, 12 KO), who’s picked up three straight solid victories over Vic Pasillas, Eduardo Baez, and Mike Plania.
The winner will be in line to face Tapales at some point, but there’ll likely be a wait. Even if an undisputed title fight between “The Maranding Nightmare” and the winner of Naoya Inoue vs Stephen Fulton, the WBA mandatory is next in the rotation.