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Golovkin risking IBF stripping him if he fights Martirosyan

The IBF won’t sanctioning Golovkin-Martirosyan, and GGG is at risk of losing one of his belts outside of the ring.

Canelo Alvarez v Gennady Golovkin Press Conference - Los Angeles Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

If Gennady Golovkin goes ahead with a nearly-finalized deal to fight Vanes Martirosyan on May 5 in California, he’ll be risking being stripped of his IBF middleweight title.

The IBF sent a letter to teams for Golovkin and mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko, saying they would not sanction the fight between Golovkin and Martirosayan.

Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KO) also holds the WBA and WBC titles, and those bodies are on board with the fight.

For Golovkin, it could be a really big deal. Fighters sometimes give up belts, especially if they’re unified titleholders, to take bigger or better fights than that sanctioning body wants to allow for them at the time.

But Golovkin has long stated his desire to fully unify the middleweight division, and he’s collected three of the four belts. (Billy Joe Saunders has the other, the WBO title.) It’s been a long journey to get to that point, and promoter Tom Loeffler says they’ll seek an exception from the IBF, but that doesn’t seem likely given their stated stance on this fight.

This is another wrench thrown into the plans for Golovkin to keep his May 5 fight date, originally, of course, planned to be his rematch with Canelo Alvarez. If he fights Martirosyan, he might lose a belt. If he doesn’t, he stays on the shelf for the time being, which he clearly doesn’t want to do.

What should GGG do here?

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