Arguments build over whether Gennady Golovkin has leeway to avoid mandatory opponent


In light of last week’s withdrawal by Canelo Alvarez, the path for Gennady Golovkin to fight Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan on May 5 should be cleared, according to World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman.

But Lou DiBella, the promoter for Golovkin’s mandatory International Boxing Federation challenger, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, is launching a strong argument that his fighter is more deserving of being the opponent.

A late withdrawal “is not supposed to stop a mandatory from happening,” DiBella told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “I don’t understand saying that extenuating circumstances allow something different.


“Is the extenuating case that he doesn’t want to take a risk? That’s what it seems like to me.”

A Tuesday morning conference call is scheduled among Sulaiman, IBF President Daryl Peoples and World Boxing Assn. head Gilberto Mendoza to discuss Golovkin’s next bout.

Like the New Jersey-based IBF having Russia’s Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) in mandatory place to fight three-belt champion Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts), the WBC has one in unbeaten former 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo.

But Sulaiman says he will inform his peers that his organization has already determined Charlo will be ordered as the mandatory foe for Golovkin after the champion fights Alvarez later this year, or if he declines to fight Alvarez following their September draw in Las Vegas.

Now is not the time to enforce a mandatory, says Sulaiman.

“How can you penalize Golovkin when the fight has to happen within a month?” Sulaiman asked. “You have to support your champion. It’d be so unfair to penalize him now when, for reasons out of his control, his fight [with Alvarez] is off.

“We’ll support him and allow him to proceed to Canelo.”

While Golovkin has long stressed the importance of wearing all the middleweight bouts and fulfilling his mandatories, he and his team would prefer on short notice this time to fight Ireland’s O’Sullivan (27-2, 19 KOs), who is ranked among the top-15 middleweight contenders by all four sanctioning bodies.


Golovkin hasn’t made a mandatory IBF defense since knocking out Dominic Wade at the Forum in April 2016.

Peoples is weighing the argument by DiBella against the uniqueness of Golovkin’s situation, and one official familiar with the situation, but unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter, says the IBF “know they have an issue.”

DiBella says IBF rules seem to mandate a Golovkin fight against Derevyanchenko now that the champion is selecting a “discretionary fight” while awaiting how the Nevada Athletic Commission will discipline Mexico’s former two-division champion Alvarez.

Golovkin “has been training for more than a month to fight the toughest guy in the division” in Alvarez, DiBella said. “What is wrong with switching to another conventional, right-handed fighter who comes forward? How can he not be prepared for Sergiy Derevyanchenko? And our guy is in the gym and ready to fight. So I don’t understand any argument against him.

“When a guy is sitting in a mandatory spot, he’s not getting paid until he gets that [title] fight. And if Golovkin faces Canelo next, this decision could affect [Derevyanchenko] for 18 months.”

Alvarez submitted two positive tests for the banned substance Clenbuterol while training in Mexico in February, and Nevada regulations call for a one-year suspension for such a violation. Alvarez is expected to plea for the sentence to be reduced to six months at a hearing in Las Vegas scheduled for April 18.


O’Sullivan is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, which also handles Alvarez.

The Times first reported earlier Monday that Carson’s StubHub Center has emerged as the likely destination for Golovkin’s May 5 fight. Also, HBO is expected to place the bout on its premium network and not make the bout a pay-per-per-view offering.

Twitter: @latimespugmire