Joe Cordina's junior lightweight title defense vs. Shavkat Rakhimov, scheduled for Nov. 5 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is off after Cordina suffered a hand injury that will require surgery, a source told ESPN.
The IBF informed Cordina (15-0, 9 KOs) on Monday that he has been stripped of his title, a source said.
Rakhimov, the organization's No. 1 contender, and Zelfa Barrett, who is ranked No. 2, will be in line to vie for the vacant 130-pound belt.
When the IBF sanctioned a fight between its then-champion, Kenichi Ogawa, and Cordina, it did so under the provision that the winner fight Rakhimov (16-0-1, 13 KOs) by Sept. 2. Cordina, an Olympian from Wales, won the title in June with a highlight-reel KO in the second round.
In July, the IBF granted Cordina a medical extension to allow the fight against Rakhimov, the mandatory challenger, on Nov. 5. The IBF granted Cordina another medical extension that would expire on Jan. 4, but the 30-year-old won't be available to compete until approximately March, according to an orthopedic hand surgeon consulted by the organization.
Rakhimov, ESPN's No. 2 junior lightweight, was slated to fight Ogawa last year but withdrew because of injury. In his lone title challenge, the Tajikistan-born fighter was held to a draw against Joseph Diaz Jr. in February 2021. Diaz failed to make weight ahead of the fight, so the belt became vacant, setting up Rakhimov, 28, for a mandatory shot.
Barrett (28-1, 16 KOs) isn't rated by ESPN, but the 29-year-old from Manchester has impressed in a recent string of fights against European-level opposition.
Cordina, ESPN's No. 7 junior lightweight, should be in line for a mandatory shot at Rakhimov after he recovers from hand surgery.
A light heavyweight title fight between Dmitry Bivol and Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez will headline Matchroom Boxing's Nov. 5 event in Abu Dhabi.