Cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez (29-1, 14 KOs) won a split decision against former titlist Firat Arslan (34-8-2, 21 KOs) to retain his title for the fourth time on Saturday in Germany and the next day was ordered by the IBF to begin negotiations for his mandatory defense against Ola Afolabi (21-3-4, 10 KOs).
According to the organization, the fight must take place by Dec 31.
Afolabi, who is from England and living in Los Angeles, was supposed to face Pawel Kolodziej of Poland in a title eliminator to earn the shot. But when Kolodziej pulled out of their July 26 fight that was scheduled for the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale undercard in New York, Afolabi instead smashed substitute Anthony Caputo Smith in the third round. That fight was not an eliminator but Afolabi is getting the shot because Hernandez’s mandatory defense is due and Afolabi is the IBF’s leading available contender.
“I’m thrilled to be challenging for the IBF world title,” Afolabi said. “[K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler] and K2 have done a great job promoting me and putting me in this position and I will take the title from Hernandez.”
Said Loeffler: “We’re excited that Ola is now the mandatory challenger. Ola has proven to be one of the best cruiserweights in the world and we strongly believe that he will bring home the IBF world title in this fight.”
The fight will be Afolabi’s fourth shot at a world title. He is 0-2-1 against Marco Huck fighting for another organization’s belt.