Canelo Alvarez defeated Daniel Jacobs in a May 4 world-title unification fight, but instead of basking in the glow of his new IBF belt, Alvarez has been ordered to defend it on or before Aug. 4.
On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Dan Rafael reported the IBF has instructed Alvarez to schedule a "mandatory defense against No. 1 challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko."
According to Rafael, the IBF sent an email to Alvarez's promotor, Golden Boy Promotions, making its demand and giving the contact information necessary to begin talks with Derevyanchenko's promotor.
The IBF added negotiations between the sides "should commence immediately and be concluded by June 15, 2019."
However, the 28-year-old's next fight is already scheduled for Sept. 14, and he might seek an extension from the IBF.
"It's really surprising and unfortunate that we didn't get a congratulations letter like we would in the past," Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, said of the IBF, per Rafael. "We will be meeting with Canelo in the next week or so to see what he would like to do."
By beating Jacobs, Alvarez unified three middleweight world titles. In February, the fighter told Rafael that his goal in 2019 is to "unify all the belts in the division." Demetrius Andrade owns the fourth belt.
Speaking with Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times after beating Jacobs, Alvarez floated Andrade's name as the last remaining middleweight belt owner left to conquer but said the WBO champion's June 29 title defense against Michael Sulecki "might be too close" to arrange a unification in mid-September.
On top of Andrade as a potential opponent, Alvarez might want to schedule a third fight against Gennady Golovkin, who is responsible for one of Alvarez's two career draws. After they drew in 2017, GGG lost to Alvarez in a 2018 majority decision. Alvarez holds a 52-1-2 career record, including 35 knockouts.
Following his unanimous-decision win over Jacobs, Alvarez downplayed the notion that there is unfinished business between him and GGG but remained open to another fight, according to CBSSports.com's Brian Campbell. "I'm just looking for the biggest challenge," he said. "If the people want another fight, we'll do another fight and I'll beat him again."
A rematch, it seems, would mean more to GGG, who is set to fight Steve Rolls on June 8 at Madison Square Garden.
"Canelo has expressed interest in fighting in the U.K., and he wants to fight in Mexico," Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya added, according to Pugmire. "Canelo has many options. There's nobody he doesn't want to face. ... Golovkin and Andrade are right here [in the arena] knocking on Canelo's door. We'll sit down, so we can all think it through and make the right decision."
If it's up to the IBF, Derevyanchenko will be the only challenger knocking at Canelo's door. The 33-year-old Ukrainian last beat Jack Culcay by unanimous decision on April 13 and holds a 13-1 overall record. He last had a chance to claim the IBF belt in October but lost in a split decision to Jacobs.
Should Alvarez and Derevyanchenko's camps fail to strike a deal by the June 15 deadline, the IBF will then give the highest bidder promotional control over the fight, according to Rafael.