The IBF bantamweight title is to be contested by Britain’s Jamie McDonnell and powerful Mexican Julio Ceja after current champion Leo Santa Cruz decided to move up to super-bantamweight.
Santa Cruz, 24, could now go straight into a title shot at 122lbs, whilst highly-ranked McDonnell and Ceja are set to fight it out for the vacant belt at a venue and date to be decided.
Former European champion McDonnell came through an eliminator in his home country against Darwin Zamora last October to seal his place as as mandatory contender. The 26 year-old, who was linked to a WBA title shot against Hugo Cazares last year, is unbeaten in the last five years after putting together a string of impressive results.
Opponent Ceja has amassed a formidable 24-0 record with 22 knockouts at the tender age of just 20 and was recently crowned WBN Prospect of 2013 on the back of five stoppages in six in 2012.
More recently, ‘Pollito’ stopped Henry Maldonado in five rounds at the Itson Arena in Sonora, Mexico to cement his place as the hottest prospect at the lower weights and could give McDonnell big problems when the two clash in the coming months.