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Sivenathi Nontshinga Eyes Unification Bout As Mandatory Title Defense Looms

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Sivenathi Nontshinga (Left) and Jonathan ‘Bomba’ Gonzalez Are In Talks For IBF/WBO Unification.
Nontshinga Photo Credit: Mark Robinson, Matchroom Boxing
Gonzalez Photo Credit: All Star Boxing, Inc.

A unification bout is being explored by Sivenathi Nontshinga in lieu of an ordered title defense.

The Ring has confirmed that South Africa’s Nontshinga and Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Gonzalez are in talks for a potential IBF/WBO 108-pound title fight. The development comes as the two-tour titleholder was previously ordered to face mandatory challenger Christian Araneta.

Nontshinga (13-1, 10 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 2-rated junior flyweight, regained the IBF title via tenth-round knockout of Adrian Curiel. Their February 15 rematch came just 15 weeks after Curiel (24-5-1, 5 KOs) scored a first-round knockout in their November 4 clash in Monte Carlo.

The second act came with the understanding that another rematch was in his likely future.

Araneta (24-2, 19 KOs) became the number one contender when he knocked out Arvin Magramo in their all-Filipino title eliminator. The 28-year-old southpaw scored two knockdowns in a first-round knockout victory on January 24 in his Cebu hometown. It was the fifth consecutive win for Araneta since an April 2021 IBF title elimination points loss to Nontshinga.

The mandatory title fight was ordered by the IBF on March 6. There was a brief pause, however, because Nontshinga was still under 30-day medical suspension which ended March 16.

The Ring has learned that minimal contact has been made between the respective teams for both boxers.

Instead, Nontshinga—through Matchroom Boxing—entered talks with Gonzalez (28-3-1, 14 KOs), No. 1 at 108.

There are not only conflicts for Gonzalez, who satisfied his WBO mandatory in his most recent bout. The 32-year-old southpaw outpointed Rene Santiago (12-4, 9 KOs) over twelve rounds on February 24 in San Juan.

Gonzalez ended a near 16-month inactive stretch with the all-Boricua battle. His last fight was a November 2022 points win over unbeaten Shokichi Iwata (12-1, 9 KOs), No. 8 at 108. Two scheduled bouts in 2023 were both canceled due to illness. One was a planned unification with Kenshiro Teraji (23-1, 14 KOs), The Ring champ and unified WBC/WBA title claimant.

Multiple reports have pegged the fight for the June 15 Subriel Matias-Liam Paro DAZN show in Manati, Puerto Rico. However, The Ring has learned that the two sides remain considerably apart on financial terms.

Additionally, The Ring has confirmed that the IBF has not yet granted formal sanction for the unification bout.

Per IBF Rule 5.E., “No IBF or USBA Champion shall box or sign to box a Champion or for another championship of another sanctioning body in seeking to unify a title unless prior approval is granted by the Championships Committee.

“In the event there is a request by a boxer to include an additional sanctioning organization on a scheduled title bout, the IBF reserves the right to deny said request. If a boxer chooses to participate in a bout with a sanctioning organization not approved by the IBF despite the denial of the request, the IBF may deny or withdraw sanction of the bout, vacate the title and/or remove the boxer from the IBF or USBA rankings”

Failure to close the deal with Gonzalez would put Nontshinga back on the hook to once again face Araneta. The matter would almost certainly head to a purse bid hearing, given the absence of negotiations during the assigned period.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Follow @JakeNDaBox

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