Jessie Vargas was offered a shot at fighting in an IBF welterweight title eliminator, but he’s reportedly passed on the opportunity.
Vargas was originally ordered to fight unbeaten boxer Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in a title eliminator where the winner would become the mandatory challenger to the title being held by Errol Spence Jr. According to Fightnews.com, Vargas has declined the fight and so the IBF will be moving forward with the eliminator.
The IBF has now ordered Abdukakhorov to fight former title challenger Keita Obara. The two have reportedly agreed to a fight deal and now they will face off in Malaysia on January 5, 2019.
Abdukakhorov was the WBC’s Silver titleholder at times during 2017 and 2018 and most recently fought in May when he defeated Twaha Kiduku by unanimous decision.
Obara has been one of Japan’s top boxers at 140 and 147 pounds since making his debut in 2010, winning the Japanese national junior welterweight, OPBF junior welterweight and WBO Asia Pacific welterweight titles. Obara challenged for the IBF and IBO junior welterweight world titles in 2016, being stopped in two rounds by Eduard Troyanovsky.
Even if Vargas had accepted the title eliminator offer, it would have been some time until he got that title fight. Spence is currently close to signing a fight deal with WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia that would have the fight take place in early 2019. Vargas is coming off two straight draws, one against Adrien Broner in April and more recently, against Thomas Dulorme on October 6.