Gennadiy Golovkin vacates IBF middleweight title, to fight on

Gennadiy Golovkin informed the IBF on Monday that he has relinquished the organization's middleweight title, according to an email obtained by ESPN.

Golovkin, 40, moved up to 168 pounds for an undisputed super middleweight championship bout against Canelo Alvarez but was defeated in the trilogy via unanimous decision. However, Golovkin still held two titles at 160 pounds. He will continue his career and still remains the WBA middleweight titleholder, a belt he won from Ryota Murata in an April unification bout. Golovkin is ESPN's No. 1 boxer at 160 pounds.

"While Gennadiy remains committed to fighting again, he has not made up his mind about many of the elements critical to planning and arranging his next bout," it's stated in the letter. "In light of the impending deadline for conclusion of free negotiations with IBF mandatory No. 1 contender Esquiva Falcao, Gennadiy does not wish to drag the process out any longer."

The WBA on Wednesday ordered Golovkin to defend his championship against the organization's secondary titleholder, Erislandy Lara, according to a letter obtained by ESPN. The sides have 15 days to complete a deal. If a purse bid is called, Golovkin is entitled to 75% as the "super" champion.

PBC has been discussing a matchup between Lara and Danny Garcia at a catchweight for Lara's title, according to sources. It's unclear how the WBA's order will affect those plans. Lara, 39, is a former 154-pound champion who is now rated No. 8 by ESPN at 160 pounds. Garcia, a former champion at 140 and 147 pounds, made his 154-pound debut in July with a decision win over Jose Benavidez Jr.

Golovkin's lucrative deal with DAZN expired following his loss to Alvarez; he is now a promotional and network free agent. Feelers were sent out to promoters and networks to gauge interest in a Golovkin-Falcao matchup, but interest was lukewarm, sources said.

Now, the IBF will move to order a vacant title fight between its top two contenders, Brazil's Falcao and Australia's Michael Zerafa. Falcao (30-0 20 KOs) is ESPN's No. 7 middleweight, while Zerafa (31-4, 19 KOs) is ranked No. 10.

Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) regained the IBF title with an October 2019 victory over Sergiy Derevyanchenko. GGG made 15 successful defenses during his first reign, which included a draw with Alvarez in their first meeting and a victory over Daniel Jacobs. Golovkin lost his unified middleweight championship to Canelo in a 2018 rematch.