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Notes: Time is of the essence for Golovkin-Saunders deal

Gennady Golovkin's team hopes to reach an agreement with Billy Joe Saunders to fight in April. Craig Bennett/Hoganphotos/K2 Promotions

A few notes from around the boxing world:

  • Unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, continues to try to make a deal with Frank Warren, the promoter of fellow titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, for an April 23 fight to unify their three belts. While the IBF would sanction Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) to participate in a unification bout with Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs), the organization said the deal must be done by Jan. 19 or Golovkin’s mandatory defense against Tureano Johnson (19-1, 13 KOs) will be ordered. Johnson became a mandatory challenger when he knocked down Eamonn O’Kane twice in the first round and cruised to a lopsided unanimous decision in a title elimination fight Oct. 17 on the Golovkin-David Lemieux undercard.

  • Cuban heavyweight puncher Luis Ortiz (24-0, 21 KOs), coming off a spectacular HBO debut Dec. 19 in which he knocked out contender Bryant Jennings in the seventh round to retain his interim title for the first time, has been ordered to defend against Russia’s Alexander Ustinov (33-1, 24 KOs) on or before June 19. If Ortiz promoter Golden Boy and Ustinov promoter Frank Warren do not make a deal and the fight goes to a purse bid, the split is supposed to be 50-50. However, Golden Boy’s plan is to have Ortiz fight once before the mandated bout against Ustinov, who has won six fights in a row since suffering an 11th-round knockout loss to Kubrat Pulev in 2012 in a European heavyweight title fight.

  • Former unified junior featherweight titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KOs), who was stripped of both belts late last year because of inactivity but returned for a virtual shutout of Drian Francisco on Nov. 21 on the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez undercard, is likely to get another title shot. The WBA announced that it will order the winner of the Feb. 27 122-pound title unification bout between Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg -- or Quigg if their fight is draw -- to face Rigondeaux by July 27. If a purse bid is needed, Rigondeaux, as the so-called "champion in recess," would receive 55 percent of the money with Frampton (21-0, 14 KOs) or Quigg (31-0-2, 23 KOs) getting 45 percent. However, if Rigondeaux insists on the lion’s share in a negotiation the fight almost certainly will not happen, and it may not happen anyway given such a lack of interest from the public in such a bout. Both Frampton and Quigg are much bigger draws than Rigondeaux and generate way more revenue so they would likely simply vacate the WBA’s belt if stuck with a 55-45 split.

  • Middleweight prospect Ryota Murata (8-0, 5 KOs), 29, a 2012 Japanese Olympic gold medalist, will take on Gaston Alejandro Vega (24-10-1, 10 KOs) of Argentina, in Shanghai on Jan. 30, according to Top Rank. Vega replaces original opponent Juan Camilo Novoa in the scheduled 10-round fight. In the main event, Chinese flyweight star Zou Shiming (6-1, 1 KO), 34, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, is returning following surgery on a torn rotator to face Natan Coutinho (12-0, 10 KOs), 21, of Brazil. The fight will be Zou’s first since injuring his shoulder in a unanimous decision loss challenging flyweight titleholder Amnat Ruenroeng on March 7.