The 32 year-old, who won the belt in September 2014 with victory over Miguel Vazquez, was ordered to face Shafikov and assumed to be taking the fight on July 18 in China, although the American has now had a change of heart.
Southpaw Shafikov can meet an alternative foe on the date in question or await a new arrangement to meet the next in line – former super featherweight title holder Rances Barthelemy later this year.
“Mickey Bey did not want to go to Macau, China to fight mandatory challenger Denis Shafikov so he vacated the title,” IBF Chairman Lindsey Tucker explained to World Boxing News, before clarifying the situation regarding Shafikov.
“Under IBF Rules, if a leading available contender is scheduled to fight before the title becomes vacant, he can get up to 30 days to complete the fight he was contracted to fight. Since Shafikov was already scheduled to fight on July 18, 2015 before the title was vacated, the IBF will allow Shafikov to fight someone on July 18, 2015.
“Assuming he wins, we will order number one Shafikov and third-rated Rances Barthelemy to start negotiating right after the Shafikov fight on the 18th. They will have 30 days to reach an agreement. If not we call for a purse bid.”
Barthelemy recently carded a one-sided win over ex-WBC champion Antonio DeMarco leading to the Mexican announcing his retirement at just 29 years of age and has the chance to become a two-weight world title holder with the IBF when the Shafikov clash is confirmed.