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South African welterweight fighter Isaac Hlatswayo has been approved as mandatory challenger for IBF champion Joshua Clottey, his management revealed on Friday.
Hlatswayo was given the vote of confidence by the IBF after original mandatory challenger Kermit Cintron of Puerto Rico pulled out of a scheduled clash against Clottey in favour of a WBC interim junior middleweight title clash against Spaniard Sergio Martinez.
That fight is on the undercard of the IBF-WBO lightweight title clash between Ali Funeka and Nate Campbell in the US on February 14.
Cintron replaced compatriot Daniel Santos who turned down the clash against Martinez saying it had come at short notice.
Cintron had earned the IBF welterweight mandatory spot after beating South African Lovemore Ndou, who campaigns in Australia, in one of two IBF mandated clashes in November last year.
Hlatswayo faced Delvin Rodriguez in the second bout, which ended in a controversial draw at Emperors Palace.
Hlatswayo, who has since severed ties with longtime promoter Rodney Berman due to the public spat between his trainer Nick Durandt and Berman, was tipped to engage in a rematch with Rodriguez in the United States in March.
But after Cintron forfeited his mandatory position the IBF moved in to elevate fourth-ranked Hlatswayo into a mandatory spot.
The top spot is vacant, with Cintron listed second and third-ranked Shane Mosley scheduled to challenge for the WBA crown against Antonio Margarito in Los Angeles next Saturday.
Durandt said the IBF informed him on Thursday night that Hlatswayo has since been installed as mandatory challenger for Clottey.
"The IBF has given us until February 12 to conclude negotiations with the Clottey camp, failing which the fight will go to purse bids," he said.
"We will negotiate with a promoter who gives us a good deal," he said.
Ghanaian Clottey is promoted by US top promoter Bob Arum who Durandt says he has already been in contact with.
He did not rule out the possibility of Hlatswayo signing with Arum if the Top Rank boss gives him a good deal. - Sapa