A path has been established to assign the next mandatory challengers to one of the most feared titlists in the sport.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the IBF has ordered a Jack Catterall-Richardson Hitchins junior welterweight final elimination bout. Both boxers positively responded to a November 29 invitation letter sent by the sanctioning body, with the fight formally ordered on Monday.
Both boxers are promoted by Matchroom Boxing.
England’s Catterall (28-1, 13KOs) is ranked number-two by the IBF, while Brooklyn’s Hitchins (17-0, 7KOs) is ranked number-four. In between the two is former undisputed champion Josh Taylor (19-1, 13KOs), who will soon exit the rankings and the division to campaign at welterweight.
Interestingly, both Catterall and Hitchins declined an invitation to enter the prior mandatory process which led to Uzbekistan’s Ergashev earning the designation by default.
Catterall has won twice in 2023 after having previously endured an unwelcome 15-month ring absence. The delay was due in large part to his oft-postponed and ultimately canceled rematch versus Taylor, against whom Catterall suffered a controversial split decision defeat last February 26 in Glasgow.
The most recent win for the 30-year-old Chorley-bred southpaw came in a twelve-round decision over former three-division titlist Jorge Linares. Their October 21 DAZN main event in Liverpool saw Catterall win by scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 117-111, and which marked the final fight in the career of Linares who announced his retirement.
Hitchins has also won twice this year. The 2016 Olympian for Haiti—representing his parents’ roots—soundly outpointed John Bauza in their February 4 battle of unbeaten prospects in New York City. Hitchins earned main event status for his most recent victory, a twelve-round unanimous decision over former title challenger Jose Zepeda on September 24 in Orlando, Florida.
The winner of the fight will become the number-one contender to IBF junior welterweight titlist Subriel Matias (20-1, 20KOs). The frightening puncher honored his most recent mandatory with a fifth-round stoppage of Shohjahon Ergashev (23-1, 20KOs) on November 29 in Las Vegas. He is now in the voluntary stage of his title reign as a result will have until June 29 to make an optional defense before he will have to revisit the mandatory route.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox