While the IBF junior welterweight will stay in the World Boxing Super Series throughout 2019, the organization is moving ahead with plans of creating a mandatory challenger for the belt.
Akihiro Kondo and Downua Ruawaiking have been announced to take part in a title eliminator set to take place on February 18, 2019. The fight is set to headline a boxing card at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, marking Kondo's third straight fight at the venue.
Kondo previously challenged for the vacant title in late 2017 when he fought Sergey Lipinets. The title was vacant at the time as Terence Crawford gave up all of his 140-pound belts to move up in weight. Lipinets defeated Kondo by unanimous decision to win the title on the undercard of Deontay Wilder's WBC heavyweight title defense against Bermane Stiverne. Since that loss, Kondo has won two straight, both wins coming by TKO. Kondo is ranked No. 4 in the IBF rankings at 140 pounds but the No. 1 and No. 2 spots are currently vacant.
Ruawaiking (birth name Apinun Khongsong), is unbeaten as a pro, winning all 14 fights since making his debut in 2016. Ruawaiking, ranked No. 7 by the IBF, won all four fights this year, all of which ended inside the distance.
After Lipinets won the title, he would go on to lose the belt to Mikey Garcia in March. Garcia vacated the title shortly afterwards and Ivan Baranchyk won the vacant title in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament.