Murodjon Akhmadaliev is back at the negotiating stable and still at least one fight away from competing for his old title.

The former WBA/IBF junior featherweight titlist has been ordered to next face Mexico’s Kevin Gonzalez in a final eliminator to determine the WBA mandatory challenger. The development comes after Tomoki Kameda—who was previously instructed to enter talks with Akhmadaliev—informed the WBA that he will now campaign at featherweight and thus was no longer interested in a path to challenge for the 122-pound title.

“The negotiation period granted to Akhmadaliev and Gonzalez is of 30 days from the moment the communication was sent,” WBA Championships Committee chairman Carlos Chavez noted in a ruling on Monday. “If no agreement is reached within this period or if either party refuses to sign the bout, the committee may call for [a] purse bid with a 50% purse split for each [fighter].”

Akhmadaliev (11-1, 8KOs) is co-promoted by World of Boxing and Matchroom Boxing and managed by Vadim Kornilov. Gonzalez (26-0-1, 13KOs) is signed to Juan Orengo’s Fresh Productions and generally fights these days on Premier Boxing Champions (PBC)-branded events.

Marlon Tapales currently holds the WBA and IBF junior featherweight titles, which he won in a twelve-round, split decision over Uzbekistan’s Akhmadaliev on April 8 in San Antonio, Texas. The 31-year-old Filipino southpaw is currently in advanced talks to face WBC/WBO titlist Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22KOs) for an undisputed championship clash eyed for December in Tokyo.

It will mean the winner of any title eliminator will have a chance to challenge for all four belts, should the Inoue-Tapales victor choose to remain at the weight.

Akhmadaliev has not fought since his disputed defeat to Tapales. The 28-year-old Uzbek southpaw—who claimed a Bronze medal during the 2016 Rio Olympics—won the unified WBA/IBF crown in a January 2020 split decision win over Danny Roman. Just three successful defenses came of a reign crippled by injuries and Covid-related illness even after the sport rebounded from the pandemic.

Gonzalez has yet to fight for a title or in a sanctioned eliminator. The 25-year-old Culiacan native has fought in scheduled ten-round bouts for each of his last five starts. In his most recent win, Gonzalez soundly outpointed veteran trialhorse Jose Sanmartin over ten rounds in a March 25 bout on the David Benavidez-Caleb Plant undercard at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Should either fighter decline to move forward with the ordered bout, Ukraine’s Oleh Dovhun (15-0, 5KOs) is the next highest ranked WBA junior featherweight contender.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox