Middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez is in the market again for a fall opponent after negotiations for one of his mandatory defenses against Sergiy Derevyanchenko ended with no deal on Thursday afternoon and resulted in his being stripped of the IBF 160-pound title.
The IBF already had allowed for multiple postponements of a purse bid for the bout, and the Derevyanchenko camp even told the IBF it was OK with Alvarez not being stripped at Monday's deadline to allow them more time to work out a deal.
But the sides were far apart on the money, even though, according to sources, streaming service DAZN, which has Alvarez under exclusive broadcast contact, had approved Derevyanchenko as an opponent with the stipulation that Alvarez take as much as a $5 million reduction on his $35 million guarantee for his next bout.
Derevyanchenko promoter Lou DiBella did not want to discuss the details of what went down with Alvarez promoter Golden Boy on Thursday but did tell ESPN: "I will confirm that we did not reach a deal by the IBF deadline."
After the final extended deadline at the end of business on Thursday came and went without a deal for the fight, the title was vacated. IBF president Daryl Peoples sent a letter, including to DiBella and George Gallegos, a lawyer representing Golden Boy, informing them of the decision to strip Alvarez.
"It is crystal clear from the correspondence that on July 26, 2019, [Golden Boy matchmaker] Robert Diaz, on behalf of Golden Boy Promotions, agreed that Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez would relinquish the IBF middleweight championship title, with no further negotiations or purse bid, if there was no completed deal between him and Derevyanchenko by the agreed upon extended deadline of Monday July 29, 2019 at 3 p.m. ET," Peoples wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN. "As of today, August 1, 2019, the IBF has been advised that there is no such deal."
Golden Boy and Alvarez had made a last-ditch effort to keep the IBF title by asking for an exception to the mandatory defense against Derevyanchenko, saying Alvarez would fight a unification bout with WBO counterpart Demetrius Andrade. The IBF rules allow a unification fight to trump a mandatory defense, but only if the request is made within a specific time frame, which Golden Boy did not adhere to, according to Peoples' letter.
"As to Golden Boy's request of August 1, 2019 for approval to allow Alvarez to unify the title with WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade [on] or about October 2019, IBF Rule 10 F.5 does not allow a boxer to request an exception since the IBF has sent out the notice of the date of the purse bid," Peoples wrote. "In this case the notice was sent out and the purse bid has been postponed. In addition, the boxers who were involved in the purse bid are not permitted to take any intervening bouts and if the champion does take an intervening bout he will forfeit the title. Rule 10 F.6. For the foregoing reasons, the IBF hereby declared the middleweight title vacant."
Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs), 28, unified three major titles in his unanimous-decision win over Daniel Jacobs on May 4, but now he is down to one of the major middleweight belts. He still owns the WBA "super" title, but he has been stripped by the IBF and the WBC, which gave him the newly created honorary designation of "franchise champion" and elevated interim titlist Jermall Charlo to its full titlist.
If the IBF follows its usual protocol, it will on Friday order a vacant title fight between Derevyanchenko and the next-leading available contender in its rankings, which is former unified world champion Gennady Golovkin, who had hoped for a third fight with Alvarez this fall. However, Alvarez refused to make the fight, even though it was the biggest fight available to him and the one DAZN pressured him to make. DAZN signed Golovkin earlier this year for the purpose of getting the eventual third fight between the two.
So Alvarez now likely will fight somebody else this fall, and Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 KOs), 33, whose only loss was by split decision for the vacant IBF belt in October, and Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) likely will meet for the vacant IBF title in October.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya was upset by the IBF's decision and blasted the organization in a statement issued Thursday night.
"We are extremely disappointed at the IBF for forcing the world's best fighter to relinquish his world title," De La Hoya said. "We have been in serious negotiations with Sergiy Derevyanchenko's promoter. We offered his team an unprecedented amount of money for a fighter of his limited stature and limited popularity, but the truth is that I'm now certain they never had any intention of making a deal. But instead they wanted to force us to relinquish Canelo's belt. This is an insult to boxing and more importantly an insult to the boxing fans of the world.
"This decision validates already existing concerns about the credibility of the IBF championship. Canelo inherited a mandatory challenger by defeating Daniel Jacobs, the man who beat Derevyanchenko, so to strip him of his title without giving him enough time to make the best fight possible is truly what is wrong with boxing, and I plan to aggressively consider all legal actions possible."