Israil Madrimov expected to have more than one fight in 2023 and for his next one to be a mandatory title challenge.

The latter will prove true, though even that part isn’t as he previously envisioned. has confirmed that plans are in place for Uzbekistan’s Madrimov to next face Russia’s Magomed Kurbanov. Representative from both camps confirmed to Boxing Scene that a deal was reached between the top two WBA junior middleweight contenders, though a date and location was not yet set.

Both are under the impression that the fight will be contested for the WBA junior middleweight title. Boxing Scene was not able to confirm whether Jermell Charlo has formally relinquished the title as this goes to publication.

Madrimov (9-0-1, 6KOs)—who is co-promoted by Matchroom Boxing and World of Boxing—has been the mandatory challenger for more than a year but was forced to wait out the rotation for his turn at the division’s top prize.

Houston’s Charlo (35-2-1, 19KOs) spent the first half of 2023 healing from a broken hand injury before he committed to a two-division jump to challenge undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The move cost him the WBO title for failure to defend versus Tim Tszyu—who has since claimed the full title—and he subsequently vacated his IBF belt in lieu of a mandatory title defense versus Bakhram Murtazaliev.

The WBA had not yet ordered Charlo-Madrimov—or any other mandatory title fight, with several contenders awaiting their marching orders at the start of 2024. Charlo also holds the WBC title, which doesn’t currently carry a mandatory challenger.

Still, Madrimov and his team have proceeded as if the belt is available for their side to negotiate with other boxers. His handlers were previously in talks with JJ Metcalf, who turned down the fight due to the lack of preparation time for a targeted January 27 date.

Madrimov has not fought since a ten-round win over Houston’s Raphael Igbokwe last April 8 at Boeing Center at Tech Port in San Antonio, Texas. He only fought once in 2022 as well, a disappointing technical draw versus Michel Soro after two rounds, which came just seven months following Madrimov’s controversial ninth-round stoppage of Soro in their December 2021 meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Kurbanov (25-0, 13KOs) also fought just once in 2023 as well. The Titov Boxing-promoted 28-year-old from Ekaterinburg claimed a highly questionable twelve-round, split decision victory over Soro last May 6 in his hometown, where he has fought most of his career.

Prior to the fight versus Soro, Kurbanov also added former titlists Patrick Teixeira and Liam Smith to his resume. He soundly outpointed Teixeira over ten rounds in their July 2022 meeting, which many considered him fortunate to have gotten past Liverpool’s Smith in their May 20212 bout which he won by unanimous decision.

Charlo has not made a title defense since he fully unified the junior middleweight division with a tenth-round knockout of Brian Castano in their May 2022 rematch. All three title defenses in his second WBC reign have come in unification bouts; he beat Jeison Rosario via eighth-round knockout to win the WBA and IBF titles in 2020, then added the WBO belt in his rematch with over Castano after the two previously fought to a draw in their July 2021 undisputed bout.

It now appears that a fully unified division one year ago will carry four major titlists in 2024.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox