Jermell Charlo has notified the IBF that he’s vacating their junior middleweight title and won’t be defending the belt against his mandatory Bakhram Murtazaliev.
The move by Jermell Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) allows him to avoid what would have been a difficult bout against Murtazaliev (21-0, 15 KOs), and he can now continue to wait on a fight with Terence Crawford.
It’s not all bad for Jermell. He’s filthy rich after the payday against Canelo Alvarez, and he still has his WBA & WBC 154-lb belts. However, it’s highly unlikely that Jermell will defend either of those belts unless it’s against Crawford because that’s the golden ticket that he’s waiting for.
Jermell, 33, hit the lotto for all intents & purposes in his last fight, getting a giant payday against mega-money superstar Canelo last September.
That performance by Jermell was horrible, making some believe that he just went there to collect the paycheck and wasn’t going to risk his hide trying to win.
It’s Canelo’s fault for choosing a fighter two divisions below him, who had never fought above 154 and was coming off a sixteen-month layoff. The fight had mismatch written all over it from the jump, and the only thing surprising about it was the non-effort by Jermell.
Obviously, he didn’t want to take what would have been an enormous pay cut defending his IBF 154-lb belt against the heavy-handed, highly motivated Murtazaliev.
Jermell will now either wait for Crawford or face WBO junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu to try and win back his recently stripped belt.
It’s more likely that Jermell will wait for the dust to clear from the 36-year-old Crawford’s rematch with Errol Spence, and then face the Nebraska native in the summer or the second half of the year.
As for Murtazaliev. He’ll now likely take on #2 Jack Culcay (33-4, 14 KOs) for the vacant IBF junior middleweight title. It’s not the great fight that Murtazaliev would have liked against Jermell, but at least he’ll have a chance to fight for a belt after nine years as a pro.
The 38-year-old Culcay has won his last eight fights since losing to Sergiy Derevyanchenko by a twelve round unanimous decision in 2019.
Culcay’s last six opponents have been lower-tier fighters, who were easy marks for him. Given his low-quality opposition, it’s unclear why the International Boxing Federation has Culcay ranked so high.
These contenders should arguably be ranked ahead of Culcay in the IBF’s rankings at 154: