Marlon Tapales enters year 2022 with a huge hurdle ahead as he faces unified IBF and WBA junior featherweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev in a mandatory title bout.

(Photo via Sanman Promotions Facebook page)

Though full details such as the venue and date have yet to be discussed, the IBF ordered both camps on Jan. 4 and were given until Feb. 2 to settle a deal.

“Negotiations should commence immediately and be included by February 2, 2022,” said Carlos Chavez, chairman of the IBF championship committee as reported by BoxingScene.

The IBF will call for a purse bid if both camps were unable to come to an agreement.

Tapales, who has an impressive 35-3 record on top of 18 knockouts, is fresh from a KO win against Japanese foe Hiroaki Teshigawa at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California last December.

This would be the perfect time for Tapales to bring in the champion caliber in him as a former WBO bantamweight champion himself.

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected Tapales’ career as he only fought once in 2020, particularly in November, where he stunned Eden Sonsona at the Sanman Gym in General Santos City.

Akhmadaliev, for his part, remained undefeated in 10 matches since turning professional in March 2018.

The bout against Tapales marks Akhmadaliev’s third straight title defense for the IBF belt since capturing both in January 2020 against Daniel Roman.

The unbeaten Uzbek boxer continued his winning ways by beating Ryosuke Iwasa and Jose Velasquez in April and November last year, respectively.

Source: Manila Bulletin (