As many fans pine for a massive three-belt welterweight unification between the International Boxing Federation champion (Spence) and World Boxing Council / World Boxing Association ruler Keith Thurman, a stipulated clash with number one contender Carlos Ocampo looks on the cards.
Spence and Ocampo are expected to negotiate soon, whilst Thurman may want to shake off the cobwebs of being out for a year anyway.
Should a request be made on behalf of Spence, the IBF did point out a unification deal wasn’t yet dead in the water.
“Carlos Ocampo is the mandatory challenger and they have been ordered to negotiate,” The IBF’s Jeanette Salazar exclusively told World Boxing News on the current situation, before confirming a fight with Thurman remained a possibility.
“But as a champion, Spence can request a unification bout prior to satisfying a mandatory.”
Thurman underwent surgery on an elbow injury after successfully taking Danny Garcia’s green and gold belt last year but has consistently been linked to an in-house PBC contest against Spence.
In the 147 pound division right now, there’s no bigger fight than pitting the two world title holders together, although it seems the ball is firmly in Thurman’s court on the timescale of it actually happening.
Spence will be urged by the IBF to follow through with mandatory duties against Ocampo should Thurman indeed need a warm-up before a huge summer between the pair can then take place in New York or Las Vegas.
The WBC and WBA have both been patient with Thurman and his own frustrating situation but may rule on a challenger themselves if the Spence fight is not agreed.
It’s not an ideal scenario for Thurman to be thrust straight back into a unification or mandatory contest after such a long spell out, whilst that tends to come with the territory when a boxer is in possession of two world titles at once.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay