Gennadiy Golovkin is back down to one mandatory challenger. has learned that Golovkin has vacated his IBF middleweight title after holding the belt for more than three years. The development comes nearly four months after the two-time unified titlist was ordered to next face unbeaten mandatory challenger Esquiva Falcao.

Next steps weren’t immediately identified as this goes to publication. Standard protocol will call for the IBF to identify the two leading available contenders to fight for the vacant title. At present moment, Brazil’s Falcao (30-0, 20KOs) and Australia’s Michael Zerafa (31-4, 19KOs) are ranked number-one and number-two, respectively.

Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (42-2-1, 37KOs) outpointed Sergiy Derevyanchenko in their October 2019 thriller to regain the vacant IBF middleweight belt. Just two successful defenses followed over a 40-month period—an eighth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta in December 2020; and a ninth-round knockout of Ryoto Murata in their IBF/WBA unification bout last April 9 in Saitama, Japan.

The win over Murata came with an inherited mandatory, as the winner was to be instructed to later face WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara in a title consolidation clash.

Golovkin was granted permission to take a fight outside middleweight, where he challenged undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (58-2-2, 39KOs) in their September 17 trilogy clash at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It was an unsuccessful venture, as Alvarez claimed a twelve-round, unanimous decision to defend his fully unified championship and went up 2-0-1 in their three-fight series.

Alvarez and Golovkin fought to a controversial draw in their September 2017 lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF middleweight championship. Alvarez earned a twelve-round, majority decision exactly one year later, ending Golovkin’s title reign which dated back to his holding a secondary WBA middleweight title since 2010.

The WBA surfaced less than a week after Golovkin’s repeat loss to Alvarez, when they ordered a Golovkin-Lara title consolidation bout last September 23. The two sides were given 30 days to reach terms but Golovkin used that time to find another loophole when one didn’t exist with the WBA. Instead, he turned to the IBF to have his mandatory with Falcao enforced. The two sanctioning bodies got together and agreed to allow the IBF to go first, with the winner to then face Lara who in the meantime was granted a voluntary defense of his secondary title.

True to present-day form in the middleweight division, the development produced a grand total of zero fights.

Falcao became the mandatory challenger following a technical decision win over Patrice Volny in their November 2021 IBF middleweight title eliminator between unbeaten middleweights. Just one fight has followed, a ten-round decision over Cristian Fabian Rios last May 29 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Lara’s last fight came one day earlier, when he scored an eighth-round knockout of Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan on May 28 in Brooklyn, New York.

The previous ruling permitted Lara an optional defense before the WBA would order a title consolidation bout. It remains unclear if those plans are altered now that the IBF mandatory will no longer take place. An inquiry to the WBA by seeking clarification wasn’t immediately returned as this goes to publication.  

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox