Mandatory challenger Michael “Hot and Spicy” Dasmariñas is one step away from securing the coveted crack at the world crown.
A purse bid is scheduled on 12 January by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue could either take part and decide to defend against the Filipino or just give up the throne.
MP Promotions Sean Gibbons, who represents Dasmariñas and all four reigning Filipino world champions, told Daily Tribune yesterday that Inoue might just drop the IBF 118-lb belt.
Inoue, promoted by Hall of Famer Bob Arum of Top Rank and Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions, have other plans for the steel-fisted Japanese and they don’t seem to include the little-known Dasmariñas in their agenda.
If that happens, the IBF will simply order the two leading contenders — Dasmariñas and former world titlist Paul Butler of the United Kingdom — to battle for the vacant championship.
Dasmariñas (30-2–1 with 20 knockouts) is in training mode in La Union and Gibbons wants the southpaw to maintain his conditioning since he was inactive the whole of 2020 owing to the pandemic.
Butler (32-2 with 15 knockouts) was a bit luckier since he saw action once last year in England.
Inoue, acknowledged as one of the world’s best pound-for-pound, can afford to relinquish the IBF crown since he also holds the World Boxing Association title.
Regardless of what happens next week, Dasmariñas, 28, is poised to vie for the world title and in line to join the growing list of Filipino world titleholders.
Meanwhile, Gibbons said Tokyo Olympic qualifier Eumir Marcial and unbeaten featherweight Mark Magsayo are being eyed to return to action in late-March while Jerwin Ancajas’s ninth defense of the IBF super-fly diadem might happen in April.
Marcial, Magsayo and Ancajas are also part of the star-studded roster of MP Promotions talents.