Jermell Charlo vacates IBF 154-lb title; Bakhram Murtazaliev vs. Jack Culcay likely for belt

By Robbie Bannatyne - 11/21/2023 - Comments

Former undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo has vacated his IBF 154-lb title rather than defending the belt against his mandatory Bakhram Murtazaliev.

It was a predictable move for the 33-year-old Jermell (35-2-1, 19 KOs), as that would have been a difficult fight for him against the hard-hitting #1 IBF-ranked Murtazaliev (21-0, 15 KOs) and one that wouldn’t pay well.

Jermell made millions for his fight against Canelo Alvarez on September 30th, and it’s believed that he’ll sit inactive for an extended period, possibly a year, and wait until a big-money fight falls into his lap.

Canelo did Jermell a big favor by selecting him for a title defense, saving him from facing his dangerous WBO mandatory Tim Tszyu.

The payday that Jermell got from the Canelo fight was essentially a golden parachute retirement type, and he’s now got to hang up the gloves or sit and wait to see if the fight with Terence Crawford will happen. If not, Jermell will likely retire but without officially announcing it.

It’ll be interesting to see if the WBA is the next sanctioning body to strip Jermell of one of his remaining two titles if he chooses not to defend against #1 Israil Madrimov.

It’s safe to say the WBC will allow Jermell to hold onto his belt with their organization without pressuring him to defend against #1 Charles Conwell.

Charlo only wants lucrative fights

Jermell is hoping for a mega-fight against Terence Crawford, and that one could happen in 2024 after Bud faces Errol Spence Jr. in a rematch.

Crawford initially said he had no interest in facing Jermall after his loss against Canelo, but he’s expected to fight him still because he doesn’t have any better options for a mega-fight.

Although Crawford has called out Canelo, there’s no interest from the Mexican star in fighting the 36-year-old welterweight, which is understandable because he fights three divisions below him, and the match-up would be a lose-lose for  Alvarez.

Recently, Jermell was stripped of his WBO 154 title after he chose to fight Canelo Alvarez at 168 rather than defend against his #1 mandatory contender, Tim Tszyu, who had been waiting for a year for his mandated title challenge.

Murtazaliev is expected to face now #2 IBF Jack Culcay (33-4, 14 KOs) for the vacant IBF junior middleweight title. The 38-year-old German-based Culcay is a 2008 Olympian, with narrow decision losses against Demetrius Andrade, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and Maciej Sulecki.

After Jermell’s recent well-paying, one-sided twelve round unanimous decision loss to undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez last September, he commented about wanting to be only involved in lucrative fights moving forward for the remainder of his career.

A title defense against the dangerous Murtazaliev wouldn’t have made sense for Jermell, especially with his timid performance against Canelo. Murtazaliev is hungry, and would have put looking to take Jermell’s head off, and he would have had to fight tooth & nail to hold onto his IBF, WBA & WBC belts in a fight against this guy.

Murtazaliev, who comes from Grozny, Russia, has been fighting mostly obscure opposition during his nine-year professional career, and he’s not well-known enough for Jermell to make a lot of money fighting.

This happens when champions start focusing on business, wanting to pick & choose fighters that will make them the most money rather than realizing that boxing is still a sport. Jermell wants the big paydays, but he can’t pick & choose who to fight if he’s holding world titles because that’s not how it goes.

Imagine a sport like the NBA where a team only wants to ignore their schedule and just focus on facing other teams that will pay them the most. It would no longer be a sport. Champions in boxing who want to cherry-pick opposition are ultimately bad for the sport.