Gennady Golovkin stripped of IBF middleweight title after not agreeing to mandatory defense

Unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin's quest to capture all four recognized titles at 160 pounds just took a backward step.

Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs), the WBA and WBC champion, was stripped of his IBF title on Wednesday for failing to adhere to the stipulations of the exception he was granted by the sanctioning body before his May 5 bout with Vanes Martirosyan. 

After his originally scheduled rematch with lineal champion Canelo Alvarez fell apart following a pair of failed drug tests and a six-month suspension for the Mexican star, Golovkin elected to face Martirosyan as a late replacement instead of his IBF mandatory opponent challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs). Although the IBF wasn't willing to sanction the Martirosyan fight as a title bout, it agreed not to strip Golovkin provided he make his mandatory defense against Derevyanchenko, a 32-year-old native of Ukraine, within 90 days.

Golovkin, 36, requested an additional exception during an IBF hearing in person on May 22 in New Jersey, in hopes of expressing just how important it was to him to keep his titles. But because he had not agreed in writing to a fight with the dangerous Derevyanchenko by Aug. 3, the IBF went the way of stripping GGG due to his participation in "an unsanctioned contest within his weight class," according to the letter sent to both fighters.

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The IBF is expected to order a vacant title bout between Derevyanchenko, who is promoted by Lou DiBella, and the next available contender in its rankings. 

Although Golovkin's goal has long been to join Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor as the only fighters in middleweight history to hold all four recognized titles at the same time, the timing of his mandated fight against the high-risk, low-reward Derevyanchenko clashed with his hopes of securing a September pay-per-view rematch with Alvarez. 

On Tuesday, Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya officially called off the talks for the fight in a move that could be seen as merely a public negotiation ploy due to GGG's insistence on a 50-50 revenue split. Golovkin, who equaled Hopkins' division record of 20 title defenses in his knockout of Martirosayn, settled for a split draw against Alvarez in their controversial first meeting last September.

The lone 160-pound title not previously belonging to Golovkin is the WBO belt currently held by Billy Joe Saunders, who recently pulled out of his June 23 title defense against Martin Murray.

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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