The International Boxing Federation has cleared the way for perhaps the biggest all-Australian female boxing bout in history by reaffirming that cult figure Ebanie Bridges must defend her IBF Bantamweight World Title against veteran Shannon O’Connell.
Sydney-born Bridges won the belt with an epic brawling performance against then-champion Maria Cecilia Roman in her adopted hometown of Leeds in the United Kingdom in March.
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The IBF later declared the top-ranked former title challenger O’Connell as Bridges’ ‘mandatory’ opponent, setting the scene for a historic domestic showdown.
However Fox Sports has learned that British promotional giant Matchroom submitted an application for its client Bridges to be allowed a ‘voluntary’ title defence before fulfilling the obligation to face O’Connell.
In the past 24 hours that request has been formally rejected.
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It means that Matchroom must now recommence negotiations with No Limit, which represents O’Connell, to stage the all-Australian world title fight next.
35 year old Bridges has become a major figure in British boxing with her glamorous social media presence brilliantly contrasting with her unrelenting fighting style.
The ‘Blonde Bomber’ captured the IBF Bantamweight World Title in just her ninth professional fight.
39 year old O’Connell has been involved in 30 professional fights in a career spanning over a decade and is affectionally known as the ‘Queen’ of Australian boxing.
‘Shotgun’ Shannon has previously fought for respected world titles and went the distance in her challenge for the IBF’s super bantamweight strap in Argentina in 2017 before losing on points.
The animosity between Bridges and O’Connell is well known in boxing circles and ample barbs have been traded on social media in recent months, ensuring a fiery build-up once a date and venue are set for a clash between the two outstanding Australian female boxers.
Under the IBF’s order the rival promoters have until Monday 6 September to strike a deal before rights to host the bout go to ‘purse bids’.