Beginning Nov. 15, International Boxing Organization junior welterweight title-holder Manny Pacquiao will have 60 days to decide whether he’ll defend or relinquish his championship, according to a Wednesday statement from IBO President Ed Levine. The IBO is the only sanctioning body to recognize Pacquiao as a world champion. “Manny Pacquiao was notified that he will be given time to decide whether to defend his championship at 140 pounds or vacate the title,” Levine said. “He is still well within his time requirements to make a title defense in the weight class. So, we’ll allow him a chance to decide and notify us.”
Levine released the statement in response to several inquiries about Pacquiao’s title status.
Pacquiao won the IBO belt from then-champion Ricky Hatton in May and is scheduled to meet Miguel Cotto in a welterweight bout in Las Vegas on Nov. 14.
According to IBO rules, “all champions, with the exception of the heavyweight champion, shall defend their title at least once every nine months unless medically excused therefrom for valid cause and/or at the sole and absolute discretion of the IBO.”
Now 32 years old, Pacquiao is 49-3-2 with 37 knockouts and is unbeaten since a decision loss to Erik Morales in 2005.
He has one previous fight at welterweight – a TKO over Oscar De La Hoya in December 2008 – and has also competed at least once in every weight class from junior flyweight (108 pounds) to lightweight (135 pounds) since turning professional in 1995.
The win over Hatton was his first appearance in an IBO championship bout.
Should Pacquiao elect to vacate his title, Levine said the championship would be filled by a subsequent bout between the top two available contenders. Pacquiao is No. 1 in the organization’s computerized rankings for October, while ex-champion Hatton is No. 2.
Unbeaten Russian prospect Denis Shafikov is the IBO Intercontinental champion at 140 and a likely contender if the title were to become vacant.