Gennady Golovkin and the middleweights: Yes, it's about to get really weird
Unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin was given a temporary pass by the IBF to face Vanes Martirosyan on May 5th.
Hence, in the event Golovkin wins, the organization will allow him to keep its belt even though the IBF disapproves Golovkin vs Martirosyan. But there's a catch, and we'll address it later in the article.
Vanes, of course, is a late substitute for Canelo Alvarez who was forced to withdraw from the Golovkin bout due to a failed PEDs test and subsequent suspension.
Prior to Martirosyan's selection, handlers of Sergiy Derevyanchenko insisted its man should fill the void; After all, he's been the IBF No. 1 contender since August 2017.
In fact, while Golovkin was still without an opponent, Sergiy's team sent a letter to the IBF insisting the sanctioning body immediately make Derevyanchenko the mandatory opponent for Golovkin.
As it relates to the contested titles, the sanctioning bodies previously agreed to a rotation process. The WBC, whose mandatory was Canelo, was up next but he squandered the opportunity and the IBF was slated next in the rotation.
Since the IBF has reluctantly granted Golovkin vs Martirosyan, the organization appears set to enforce a strict policy going forward.
Prior to his May 5th bout with Martirosyan, Golovkin must sign paperwork committing to give Derevyanchenko a title shot within 90 days (by August 3) or be stripped of its belt.
So, what's the problem?
Golovkin vs Canelo 2, perhaps the biggest fight of the year, is expected to happen in September, following Alvarez's PEDs suspension.
Gennady can't - and won't - fight both opponents in such a short window. As a result, he'll likely relinquish the IBF belt and go for the big-money fight with Canelo.
So who'll fight for the IBF middleweight title?
Now, here's where things start getting weird.
The IBF's top two contenders are Derevyanchenko and Daniel Jacobs. Of course, Jacobs would have to defeat Maciej Sulecki tomorrow night to keep his rank.
Jacobs vs Derevyanchenko would make sense but Daniel's fight tomorrow night is a WBA eliminator. Should he win, he'd be the eventual mandatory opponent for the winner of Golovkin vs Canelo.And if you're Jacobs, you'll want to fight for the big cookies; No one knows who Derevyanchenko is.
The IBF ranks Jermall Charlo after Jacobs so maybe we'll see Charlo vs Derevyanchenko for the IBF middleweight title, right?
... Not so fast. Charlo is already ranked No.1 by the WBC and might not want to jeopardize an eventful title shot against Golovkin/Canelo/Jacobs.
Let's not forget, unification fights are never mandatory. Should Charlo win the IBF belt, Golovkin/Canelo/Jacobs would have no commitment to fight him.
What about the IBF's next in line (after Charlo)?
Perhaps we'll see Demetrius Andrade vs Derevyanchenko, right?
Not quite... Andrade is already the WBO's No.1 contender and a likely eventual mandatory opponent for its champion, Billy Joe Saunders, whose drawing power is much bigger than Derevyanchenko's. Moreover, Saunders happens to be a rumored possible opponent for Golovkin should he defeat Canelo in their rematch.
What should we expect?
Look for the winner of Golovkin vs Canelo to exercise his clout as a mainstream star and relinquish all of his belts sans one.
Despite holding just one of the four belts, the winner of Canelo vs Golovkin will be viewed as the real and legitimate champion and his team will be given tremendous leverage in calling their own shots.
Without serious public demand, the winner of Canelo vs Golovkin wouldn't have to fight the other belt-holders to remain big draws, so they'd simply comply with the organization whose belt they carry, but no one else.
Take a step back...Should Golovkin win, can you imagine him fighting 4 times in the next year and a half and facing the following in back-to-back-to-back fights?
Canelo, Jacobs, Charlo and Saunders.
That would be a torrid pace. All very difficult fights.
It's rare for a fighter to sign-up for 4 or 5 very tough fights in a row. Handlers will usually throw in some easier options in-between those tough fights.
For example, during a stretch of Oscar De La Hoya's career, he fought the following in order.
Felix Trinidad (difficult)
Shane Mosley (difficult)
Fernando Vargas (difficult)
Luis Ramon Campas
Shane Mosley (difficult)
Bernard Hopkins (difficult)
It would have made no sense for him to face Trinidad, Mosley and Vargas in succession. And it would make no sense for the winner of Canelo vs Golovkin to oblige mandatories of all 4 sanctioning bodies..
By the end of the year or early next year, expect to have 4 middleweight champions. The winner of Golovkin vs Canelo will have one of the belts and will be heralded as the true champion of the division and will have the most 'juice' with the public.
Things are going to get really weird as we'll see a lot of shuffling between the other champions and their contenders, and who fights who for what.
...And if there's an upset or two, it'll only get crazier.