Undisputed junior welterweight world champion Terence Crawford probably won't hold the unprecedented distinction of owning all four title belts in the 140-pound weight class for long.
Each organization has a different mandatory challenger not to mention that Crawford may also vacate his belts for the lure of bigger money and bigger challenges in the 147-pound welterweight division, where Top Rank chairman Bob Arum hopes to match him in early 2018 with the winner of the November rematch between titleholder Jeff Horn and former champion Manny Pacquiao.
However, the time table for Crawford's decision was pushed up on Monday when the IBF, less than 48 hours after Crawford spectacularly knocked out Julius Indongo in the third round to take his two title belts on Saturday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, ordered him to make a mandatory defense against Sergey Lipinets.
Lipinets was Indongo's mandatory challenger but he was given an exception to the fight in order to first face Crawford, who inherited the mandatory obligation with his victory.
The IBF sent a letter to the Crawford and Lipinets camps on Monday morning letting them know that they should begin negotiations for the bout and that if a deal could not be made a purse bid would be ordered on Sept. 17 with it due to take place Sept. 21 at the organization's offices in Springfield, New Jersey.
However, Ton Brown of TGB Promotions, serving as Lipinets' promoter, immediately responded to the letter with one of his own, invoking Lipinets' right to forgo a negotiating period and request an immediate purse bid. So the IBF then sent the camps a second letter ordering the immediate purse bid.
"The IBF received a written certification from TGB Promotions, who represents Lipinets, stating that they were not willing to participate in negotiations and therefore requested an immediate purse bid according to IBF Rule 10A," the IBF wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN. "Therefore, the IBF will call for purse bids in these offices on Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 12 noon. Bids must be submitted at 11:45 a.m. to be promptly opened at 12 noon.
"At the time of the bid, promoters must remit a check to the IBF in the amount of $ 5,000.00, a non refundable participation fee. You must also submit at that time a check representing 10% of the total amount of the bid. Within 5 business days following the purse bid procedure, the winning promoter must forward another check to this office representing 10% of the bid, for a total of 20% of the total amount bid."
Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN he figured the letter ordering the fight would be coming but was disappointed Crawford was put in the position so quickly after his victory on Saturday.
"So be it," Moretti said. "I have a pretty good track record in purse bids. So we'll have a discussion with Crawford and I'll attend the purse bid and also get another round of golf in at Baltusrol Golf Club, which is also located in Springfield, New Jersey. We were totally focused on Saturday night's fight. The kid came through against Indongo with flying colors. Now it's time to catch our breath and see what he wants to do."
Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), 29, of Omaha, Nebraska, became only the third fighter of the four-belt era to hold all four belts in one weight class at the same time, the others being Bernard Hopkins, who unified all four middleweight belts in 2004 before losing them all two fights later to Jermain Taylor in 2005.
Lipinets (12-0, 10 KOs), 28, a native of Kazakhstan fighting out of Los Angeles, knocked out Australia's Lenny Zappavigna in the eighth-round of a title elimination fight to become the IBF-designated mandatory challenger in December.