Wednesday, February 08, 2023  |


IBF orders Ola Afolabi-Victor Emilio Ramirez for rare interim title

THE RING’s No. 5-ranked cruiserweight Ola Afolabi has been ordered to face Victor Emilio Ramirez for the IBF’s interim title in the wake of an injury to RING/IBF champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez, according to IBF Championships Chairman Lindsey Tucker.
Promoted by Sauerland Event, Hernandez (29-1, 14 knockouts) suffered an injury to his right elbow during a November sparring session which forced the postponement of his scheduled Dec. 6 defense against Afolabi i (21-3-4, 10 KOs), a England-born former title challenger who is handled by Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions.

To that end, Afolabi, 34, was notified on Dec. 30 that he has 30 days (until Jan. 30) to negotiated a deal to face Ramirez (21-2, 17 KOs), a 30-year-old title challenger from Argentina who is promoted by KO International.

The winner between Afolabi and Ramirez must then face Hernandez. If Hernandez is not available by Aug. 6, however, then the winner of Afalabi-Ramirez will be declared the full beltholder, according to Tucker.

“Hernandez was injured, and under the IBF’s rules, he can get a medical extension for 60 days. We granted him that medical extension, but according to his doctor, he still would not have been able to defend the title within that 60 days,” said Tucker. “So, we ordered an interim title fight between the two highest-rated guys. That was the No. 3, Ola Afolabi, and the No. 4, Victor Ramirez. So the winner of that fight fights Yoan Hernandez, assuming that he’s okay when that fight is over.”

If Afolabi and Ramirez fail to reach a deal, then a purse bid will be ordered. The minimum bid would be $100,000 with the purse split being 50-50, according to Tucker.

Tucker said that the move will marks only the fourth time since 2003 that the IBF will have invoked the use of an interim title bout.

“We’re the only ones that don’t do interim titles,” said Tucker. “But we only do it if the champion is unable to defend the title within a reasonable amount of time.”

Afolab will be in his fourth title bout when he meets Ramirez, having lost twice and battled to a draw against RING No. 1-rated WBO beltholder Marco Huck, who has made a division record-tying 13 title defenses.

Afolabi was last in action in July for a third-round stoppage of Anthony Caputo Smith, representing the former’s second consecutive win since dropping a majority decision to Huck in June 2013.

Ramirez has won six straight fights, five by knockout, including the past four consecutively since falling by unanimous decision to Huck in August 2009.

The loss to Huck ended a nine fight winning streak that had included seven stoppage wins for Ramirez, whose other loss was by majority decision to Sebastian Ignacio Ceballos in his seventh career fight in December 2006.

In his last fight in October, Ramirez rose from two first-round knockdowns to both drop and stop Deon Elam in the second round.

Hernandez, 30, is coming off a split decision in August over Firat Arslan. The win over Arslan was the 15th straight in a run that has included six knockouts. Hernandez’s only loss was in March 2008 when he was stopped in the third round by Wayne Braithwaite.

Hernandez’s winning streak includes consecutive decisions over former RING 200-pound champion Steve Cunningham by sixth-round technical decision in October 2011 and by unanimous decision in February 2012.