- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Hours before junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire defeated Toshiaki Nishioka by ninth-round knockout last Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., he vacated his IBF version of the 122-pound title.
Donaire, who did defend his WBO belt, decided that since his IBF mandatory defense would be due shortly after the fight, and the potential mandatory challengers were not opponents that HBO would buy for his next fight, it made no sense to keep the belt and pay the nearly $40,000 in sanctioning fees just to wind up being stripped a couple of months later.
So now that the IBF's belt is vacant, it belt must be filled, and here's how, according to the organization:
On Sept. 21, Jhonatan Romero (22-0, 12 KOs) of Colombia outpointed Efrain Esquivias (16-2, 9 KOs) of Carson, Calif., on a Showtime "ShoBox: The New Generation” card for the IBF's No. 2 position at 122 pounds.
On Oct. 27 in El Paso, Texas, former titlist Takalani Ndlovu (33-7, 18 KOs) of South Africa, who is ranked third by the organization, will face No. 4 Alejandro Lopez (23-2, 7 KOs) for the No. 1 spot in a fight that is slated to headline a Top Rank card on Azteca America.
Then the winner of Ndlovu-Lopez will be ordered to face Romero for the vacant title.