By Jake Donovan

Sergiy Derevyanchenko will get his second crack at a middleweight strap.

Once again, it will come in the form of a vacant title fight.

The top-rated contender is officially on the hunt for an opponent to contend for the now vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) middleweight title. The bittersweet news was confirmed to through multiple sources after talks for a crack at unified middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez ultimately hit a wall.

Several postponements gave Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions until Thursday to either close a deal of concede the title in lieu of honoring the ordered mandatory title defense.

With the fallout, Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10KOs)—a top-rated contender from Brooklyn (N.Y.) by way of Ukraine—will be ordered to work his way down the list of IBF-ranked middleweights to secure a vacant title fight. Interestingly, former unified titlist Gennadiy Golovkin is currently the next-highest rated contender for the IBF middleweight title and— has learned—is in advanced talks for such a fight, which is being targeted for Oct. 5 live on DAZN.

Meanwhile, Alvarez is already prepared to move on. In a development first revealed by The Athletic boxing insider Mike Coppinger, the still-reigning World (lineal) middleweight champion has already reached out to unbeaten World Boxing Organization (WBO) titlist Demetrius Andrade for a unification bout which—if a deal is reached in the near future—could impact the timing for a Golovkin-Derevyanchenko fight, as Alvarez still plans to command a reserved Oct. 26 DAZN date.

As for a now canceled mandatory title defense versus Derevyanchenko, the pairing was met with turmoil from the moment the bout was formally announced by the IBF. Alvarez was initially ordered to open negotiations just days after his three-belt unification win over Daniel Jacobs this past May in Las Vegas, Nev.

With the win and new title, Alvarez—already the recognized World (lineal) champion—inherited the mandatory title defense, which was ordered on May 15. A mea culpa was quickly offered by the New Jersey-based sanctioning body, noting that Alvarez was permitted a 30-day period to file a request to instead first make a voluntary title defense.

It was the hoped-for process by sports streaming service DAZN, with whom Mexico’s Alvarez signed a boxing record-breaking 10-fight, $350 million contract. With that pile of money has come demands from the platform, including his aforementioned clash with Jacobs in his first official fight under the pact (a knockout win over Rocky Fielding last December was secured external to the 10-fight contract).

DAZN brass was hoping to run with Alvarez on a September 14 show in Las Vegas—on the weekend celebrating Mexican Independence Day—preferably in a third fight with Golovkin, whom the platform signed earlier this year.

Their previous two fights have also been staged on that particular weekend, fighting to a highly questionable draw in Sept. 2017 and with Alvarez taking a less controversial but still disputed majority decision in their rematch last September.

Talks for a third fight hit a wall for a number of reasons. Among them were Golovkin’s wish for the fight to take place anywhere but Vegas, where he’s only managed to win one of six combined scorecards in two fights where many felt he should be 2-0.

There’s also the issue of Alvarez’s disinterest in a third fight altogether. The Mexican icon has explored just about every other viable option, including moving up two divisions for a run at 175-pound titlist Sergey Kovalev.

All the while, the aforementioned 30-day window expired without Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions formally filing for an exception. The confusion stemmed from their belief that the IBF’s missteps were an acknowledgement that the sanctioning body wasn’t in fact next in queue.

By the time the matter was cleared up, it already led back to his fight with Derevyanchenko placed back on the docket. A July 15 purse bid hearing ordered, with that deadline having since been pushed back four times in just over two weeks.

It ultimately proved to be a waste of time—and eerily similar to the waiting period for his first career title fight.

Derevyanchenko will now get his second crack at a major title, although that was always going to be the case whether Alvarez agreed to the fight or relinquished the title.

The squat boxer-puncher was the mandatory challenger in waiting for Golovkin dating back to a 12th round knockout of Tureano Johnson in Aug. 2017. He sat and waited out Alvarez-Golovkin I and was prepared to allow the rematch to happen until their originally planned May 2018 sequel was postponed following two failed drug tests produced by Alvarez.

Rather than enter the mandatory defense in order to preserve the May date, Golovkin instead opted for semi-retired and overmatched Vanes Martirosyan whom he obliterated in two rounds.

The bout was blessed by the IBF with the condition that he next face Derevyanchenko. Instead, Golovkin dropped the belt in favor of the far more lucrative payday that came with the rematch versus Alvarez, although it resulted in his leaving the night beltless.

One month later came Derevyanchenko’s crack at the crown, following just short in dropping a 12-round split decision to Jacobs—his career-long stablemate (both are trained by Andre Rozier and managed by Keith Connolly)—in a spirited affair last October. He quickly moved back into the number-one contender position following a 12-round win over Germany’s Jack Culcay this past April.

A major hang-up in Alvarez moving forward with this fight was that it was previously never approved by DAZN, who for more than a month would only greenlight Kovalev or Golovkin as acceptable next opponents. It led to ongoing talks between DAZN brass and Golden Boy, with the hope of getting a firm commitment from Alvarez’s side on a third fight with Golovkin next up should he emerge victorious here.

Multiple sources with knowledge of negotiations informed that such a demand no longer existed by the tail end of negotiations. All declined comment—or even off-the-record confirmation—as to whether it helped push along talks between the two camps as far as it lasted.

Meanwhile, a year which for Alvarez began with ‘All the belts’ as his mission statement has instead seen him part ways with two of his three alphabet titles. The World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight title was removed from his grasp for a second time without ever losing in the ring, as the belt was given to interim titlist Jermall Charlo following the WBC’s decision to name Alvarez its “Franchise” middleweight champion.

With his latest decision to fight on his own terms, comes a second chance for Derevyanchenko to become a first-time title claimant—once again versus an opponent other than the high-profile option he’d long pursued.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox