By Dan Ambrose: Saul Canelo Alvarez won’t need to defend his IBF middleweight title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko next after all. According to Michael Benson, the International Boxing Federation says they made an “error” by ordering the Canelo (52-1-3, 35 KOs) to defend his recently won IBF 160-pound title against mandatory Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 KOs).
Given that Canelo is a unified champion in holding the IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles, the mandatory defenses that he’s required to make are rotated among the different sanctioning bodies. The IBF isn’t the next in line for Canelo’s next mandatory.
It’s quite possible Canelo’s next mandatory will be his WBC interim middleweight champion Jermall Charlo (28-0, 22 KOs), who has been waiting almost two years since he won the WBC eliminator in beating Jorge Sebastian Heiland by a fourth round knockout on July 29, 2017.
Charlo has been waiting ever since for the World Boxing Council to get around to ordering the WBC champion to defend against him. Initially, Gennady Golovkin was the WBC middleweight champion, but now it’s Canelo after his win over GGG last September. It’ll be interesting to see how long the WBC takes before they get around to ordering Canelo to finally defend against Charlo. Many Boxing fans believe that when the WBC does order Canelo to defend against Charlo, he’ll vacate the belt soon after the order.
The IBF wanted Canelo to make his defense against Derevyanchenko by August 4, according to ESPN. That would have set-up an impossible situation for Alvarez, as he plans on fighting on September 14 on DAZN, against potentially Gennady Golovkin. If push came to shove, Canelo would have almost surely vacated the IBF title under those conditions if the sanctioning body didn’t make an exception for him to make the trilogy fight with GGG.
Last year, the IBF ordered Golovkin to defend against then mandatory Derevyanchenko by August. Golovkin had to vacate his IBF belt, because he had no time to defend against Derevyanchenko, and then face Canelo a month later on September 15 in their rematch on HBO pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jacobs fought Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF 160-pound title on October 27, and beat him by a 12 round unanimous decision. The IBF ended up with arguably a less popular fighter in Jacobs holding their middleweight belt.
If Canelo vacated his IBF title, the sanctioning body would likely wind up with a less popular fighter holding their middleweight strap. The next highest ranked contender in the IBF’s rankings, Kamil Szeremeta, would face Derevyanchenko for the vacated IBF title. So instead of the IBF having Canelo as their champion, Derevyanchenko or Szeremeta would hold their strap.
Canelo needs to think about vacating his middleweight titles, and focus on just making the best possible fights. Nowadays, fighters don’t need to unify divisions to increase their popularity. That’s old school. Casual Boxing fan don’t follow the sport closely enough to pay attention to fighters unifying divisions. They only thing the casual fans care about is seeing good, competitive fights between the most talented fighters possible. Canelo seems like he’s losing sight of that or perhaps his promoters at Golden Boy didn’t clue him in. Canelo will gain more by taking the biggest fights possible instead of unifying the middleweight division. You can argue sanctioning bodies are for the less popular fighters in this era. The popular fighters ignore them, and make the fights they want to.
If Canelo gives up all of his middleweight belts, the loser in that move would be WBO 160-pound champion Demetrius Andrade and his promoters at Matchroom Boxing USA. The only thing Andrade has to lure Canelo into a fight against him is his WBO belt. Once Canelo gives up on his archaic notion of unifying the middleweight title in order to validate his career in the eyes of the fans, guys like Andrade will lose importance for him.