IBF orders Ross title fight
In a career defined by layoffs and false starts, Ross appears to finally have a green light to pursue something big.
The decree gives Ross, a two-time Olympian and former Commonwealth champ, the title shot he has been chasing since turning pro nine years ago, and ends weeks of confusion over what exactly would happen with the IBF belt.
Originally Cunningham had been slated to fight Matt Godfrey for the belt, with the victor facing the winner of an eliminator between Ross and another contender. When I spoke to Ross' promoter last month the opponent looked like it would be Russia's Grigory Drozd but since then Drozd has slipped in the rankings, ceding his spot in the queue to Cuban defector Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
Meanwhile, the agreement between Cunningham and Godfrey began to crumble. The bout, originially scheduled as part of a world title doubleheader on ESPN's Friday Night Fights, was jeopardized when the other title bout, a a 154-pound showdown between Cory Spinks and Cornelius Bundrage fell through. The network stuck with Cunningham-Godfrey until this week, when that bout collapsed too.
With Godfrey backing out of the fight the IBF ordered a Cunningham and Ross to fight for the vacant title, fulfilling Ross' career-long ambition and saving him a trip to Germany for an eliminator bout against Gonzales.
"It's a big relief" Ross said Wednesday night. "Cunningham is a good fighter but at the end of the day we're fighting for one belt and it's going to bring the best out of both of us."
Neither a date nor a site has been set yet, though Ross believes the fight should take place in early July.
Cunningham remains under contract to promoter Don King and Ross says negotiations for the fight can't begin until next week, when Cunningham's pact with King expires.