Super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch, who will be sidelined until this summer because of an elbow injury he suffered when he returned to training last month, vacated one of his alphabet titles on Tuesday.
Froch faced an IBF-imposed deadline to make a mandatory title defense against countryman James DeGale, and the injury was going to prevent him from meeting it. However, even if Froch's elbow was OK he probably would have vacated the title because his promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, was negotiating a spring fight between Froch and Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (48-1-1, 32 KOs), a former middleweight titleholder.
The 37-year-old Froch (33-2, 24 KOs), of England, who very much wants a major fight in Las Vegas before he retires, said that when he returns, he will still be aiming to face Chavez.
"It's been a frustrating couple of weeks with terms agreed for the Chavez fight only for me to be unable to proceed in camp due to injury," Froch said. "I know what it's like to wait for a shot, and I didn't want to hold James up in fighting for a world title. James is a great fighter, and I hope he can go out and win that title, and who knows, we may even meet later in the year."
Another possible fight for Froch when he returns is a showdown with former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who said he would be interested in moving down to super middleweight to challenge Froch.
"Talks continue with the Chavez camp regarding a summer clash in Las Vegas, and discussions have taken place with Golden Boy Promotions regarding a bumper clash in [Froch's hometown of] Nottingham with two-weight world champion legend Bernard Hopkins in the summer," Hearn said.
DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs), 29, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2008, became one of Froch's mandatory challengers last May when he knocked out American Brandon Gonzales in the fourth round on the undercard of Froch's rematch with George Groves. Rather than sit and wait for the title shot, DeGale took another fight in November and knocked out former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban in the third round.
Right after Froch relinquished the belt, the IBF ordered DeGale to face the next leading available contender, Andre Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs), 31, of Flint, Michigan, for the vacant title. IBF president Daryl Peoples told ESPN.com that negotiations need to be concluded by March 5 or a purse bid will be ordered.
Dirrell, older brother of Anthony Dirrell, holds a version of the super middleweight world title and has had one previous world title fight. He lost a split decision to Froch in Nottingham in October 2009 in the Super Six World Boxing Classic.