IBF strips Gennady Golovkin of belt for failure to fight challenger

It has been a bad couple of days for unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin, who is undefeated in the ring but 0-2 in the boardroom in the past two days.

One day after Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said he was ending talks with his camp for a Sept. 15 rematch with Canelo Alvarez because of Golovkin's unwillingness to move off an unacceptable demand for a 50-50 purse split, GGG was stripped of one of his three major 160-pound title belts by the IBF on Wednesday for his failure to fight mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

"It comes as a complete shock that the IBF would make a ruling far beyond what the Derevyanchenko side was asking for," Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler told ESPN. "They weren't asking for him to be stripped. They were asking to have their shot at the IBF title next, but they never asked for him to be stripped. In light of this ruling, I think the IBF has completely mistreated GGG. It is the worst treatment they have ever shown any unified champion in their history.

"Gennady is disappointed in the ruling."

On May 22, the fighters and their teams gathered at a hotel in Newark, New Jersey, for a four-plus-hour hearing on the matter during which both sides presented their cases. The sanctioning body had 10 business days to rule, which it did on Wednesday, notifying both camps with a letter via email, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, that GGG had been stripped.

The issue with the IBF arose after Golovkin's scheduled May 5 rematch with Alvarez was canceled and Alvarez was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for twice testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol in random tests in February.

Alvarez was Golovkin's WBC mandatory challenger, and that fight was due next under the rotation system used by the four major sanctioning organizations in instances when a fighter holds multiple belts. But when the May 5 fight was canceled, Derevyanchenko's team asserted that it should be next.

Instead of trying to make a short-notice fight with Derevyanchenko, whose camp was pressing for the fight, Golovkin instead faced replacement foe Vanes Martirosyan on May 5 and crushed him in the second round.

The IBF declined to sanction that bout, so GGG's IBF belt was not at stake, but it did not strip him because Loeffler paid a $20,000 fee on April 20 for it to consider his request for an exception.

The exception was granted, but the IBF laid out terms for Golovkin to keep the title. One of those terms was that he had to agree in writing before the Martirosyan fight that he would next fight Derevyanchenko within 90 days of the May 5 bout, or by Aug. 3.

According to the IBF ruling, on April 30, Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs), 36, a Kazakhstan native fighting out of Santa Monica, California, filed an appeal objecting to the order of having to fight Derevyanchenko by Aug. 3. Attorney Alex Dombroff, the in-house lawyer for Derevyanchenko promoter Lou DiBella, filed a response to the appeal on May 7.

At that point, the IBF called for the May 22 hearing, which was attended by both fighters, DiBella, Dombroff, Keith Connolly (Derevyanchenko's manager), Loeffler, Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez and attorney Patrick English.

"After reviewing the written submissions and hearing the oral arguments of counsel for the parties on May 22, 2018, the panel, composed of three IBF members, all of whom are practicing attorneys, made its recommendations to the [IBF] president, Daryl Peoples, and to the championships committee in accordance with Rule 12.F.," the IBF ruling said. "The president and the championships committee approved the condition that Golovkin agree to fight the IBF middleweight mandatory opponent by August 3, 2018, in order to avoid the penalty of losing his title under Rule 5.H."

The IBF ruling further said, "Since Golovkin has not agreed in writing to fight the IBF mandatory opponent by August 3, 2018, a required condition for the grant of the exception, the request for an exception to Rule 5.H. must now be denied. ... The penalty for Golovkin having participated in an unsanctioned contest within his weight class under Rule 5.H. is that his IBF middleweight title will be declared vacant."

The IBF will now go down its list of rated contenders until one of them agrees to face Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs), 32, a 2008 Olympian from Ukraine, for the vacant title. Derevyanchenko became the mandatory challenger by knocking out Tureano Johnson in the 12th round of a title elimination bout on Aug. 25, 2017.

DiBella was happy that Derevyanchenko will get his title shot and commended the IBF.

"I've always respected the IBF for following their rules," he said. "They made a completely legitimate ruling beforehand, and they did not strip GGG before his fight with Martirosyan, but he wasn't going to honor the requirement that he fight Derevyanchenko next. They never came to us to try to make the fight. It was clear they weren't going to try to make the fight, not with the possibility of the Canelo rematch, which looks dead now anyway. So I commend them for doing the right thing.

"I also want to give appropriate kudos to Alex Dombroff, who did a terrific job representing Derevyanchenko. He seriously did an outstanding job and he can be proud of the work he did. Kudos to the young guy who had a career-enhancing moment. He worked really hard."

DiBella, long a big Golovkin fan, said there are no hard feelings on their side.

"I said this to GGG in person at the hearing -- that he's a great champion and I respect how he's handled himself, and this does not detract from my respect for him.

"But you can't have it all ways. I told him I'd be rooting for him if the Canelo fight happens."