It doesn’t really matter how rich and famous you are when it comes to boxing. Even the cream of the crop can have their hard-earned world titles stripped from them. Most boxers who have been stripped of their championship belts find it’s because they’ve failed to adhere to the rules of the particular governing body, such as refusing to defend their crown against the organization’s mandatory challenger.
This list consists of the 10 middleweight champions who have been stripped of their titles for one reason or another by one of the top four governing bodies; the WBA, WBC, IBF or WBO. In some instances a champion may have been stripped by more than one of the organizations.
10. Bert Schenk
Even hardcore boxing fans may have a tough time recognizing the name Bert Shenk of Germany. Schenk turned pro back in 1996 and fought mainly in Germany until 2005 with an impressive record of 36-2 with 23 Kos. He didn’t exactly fight the elite of the 160 lb division and in January, 1999 in his 22nd pro bout he found himself up against Freeman Barr for the vacant WBO Middleweight Title. The championship was vacant after former champ Otis Grant relinquished it to take on light heavyweight champ Roy Jones Jr. Shenk managed to stop Barr in the fourth round to take the tile and then defended it four months later. However, Shenk’s reign lasted just 10 months as the WBO stripped the title from him for failing to defend it against Jason Matthews due to injury. Matthews was given the title, but lost it to Armand Krajnc. The southpaw Shenk was then given another shot at the title in October of 2000 when he was healthy, but was knocked out by Krajnc.
9. Dmitry Pirog
Another lesser-known middleweight champion was Russia’s Dmitry Pirog. The 37-year-old fought from 2005 to just 2012 and went undefeated with a perfect record of 20-0 with 15 Kos. Pirog gave up chess for boxing and was an accomplished young boxer who claimed to go 200-30 in the amateur ranks. After winning several regional and international titles, Pirog shocked the pro boxing world in July, 2010 when he upset heavily-favoured American Daniel Jacobs for the vacant WBO World Middleweight Title. Pirog knocked Jacobs out in the fifth round with a right hand and then went on to defend his new belt three times over the next two years. Pirog’s reign came to a sudden end in August of 2012 when the WBO stripped him for deciding to take on IBO and WBA Middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin instead of their mandatory challenger Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. Unfortunately, Pirog suffered a back injury while training for Golovkin and retired.
8. Daniel Geale
Australia’s Daniel Geale was an accomplished amateur who took home the silver medal from the 2002 Commonwealth Games as a welterweight and also competed in the 2000 Olympics. Geale turned pro in 2004 and fought primarily in his homeland. He beat lightly-regarded Daniel Dawson for the vacant IBO Middleweight Title in December, 2007, but lost it in his second defense to fellow Australian Anthony Mundine in May, 2009. Two years later, Geale would win the vacant IBF Title against Sebastian Sylvester. In his third defense of the IBF belt, Geale added the WBA (super) Middleweight Championship by beating Felix Sturm. Just two months later though, the WBA stripped the title from Geale after he beat Mundine in a rematch instead of defending the title against mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin. Geale then lost his IBF Title to Darren Barker and was knocked out by Golovkin in a title challenge in July, 2014. The 36-year-old, who has a record of 31-5 with 16 Kos, had title shots against Miguel Cotto (WBC) and Renold Quinlan (IBO) in his last two fights and lost them both.
7. Jermain Taylor
The boxing career of 38-year-old Jermain Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas is apparently over after running afoul of the law. He was the last Undisputed Middleweight Champion (WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, WBO and Lineal Titles) went 33-4-1 with 20 Kos. Taylor fought at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia as a junior middleweight and was rewarded for his efforts with the bronze medal. He turned pro in 2001 and started his career at 25-0. His 24th fight was the big one though as he beat Bernard Hopkins by controversial split decision to win all the middleweight titles in one shot. Taylor decided to give Hopkins a rematch five months later in December, 2005 and had to give up his IBF Title for doing so. After beating Hopkins again, Taylor was soon relieved of his WBA Title for failing to pay sanctioning fees. He would then lose the WBC, WBO and Lineal Titles in September, 2007 when Kelly Pavlik stopped him in the seventh round. Taylor was knocked out in the last round by WBC Champion Carl Froch in a super middleweight title challenge in 2009, but would regain the IBF Middleweight Title in 2014 by beating Sam Soliman. Four months later, in February, 2015, Taylor was stripped of the title after being arrested on gun charges and he’s never fought since.
6. Sumbu Kalambay
Sumbu Kalambay was born in the former Belgian Congo and moved to Italy as a youngster. He enjoyed a great amateur boxing career by going 90-5 and then decided to turn pro in 1980. Kalambay fought mainly in Italy, but after his first 16 outings took on a steady diet of American opponents. After climbing up the rankings he eventually won the European Title by beating unbeaten hometown hero Herol Graham in England in May, 1987. He challenged Iran Barkley in his next fight five months later and won the vacant WBA Middleweight Title by 15-round unanimous decision. Kalambay defended the title three times against Mike McCallum, Robbie Sims and Doug DeWitt. He then decided to meet IBF Champion Michael Nunn next in March of 1989 and the WBA stripped him of his title for doing so. It didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things though as Nunn knocked Kalambay out in the first round. Kalambay defended his European belt several more times and then challenged Chris Pyatt for the vacant WBO Title in 1993. He lost by decision and retired with a record of 57-6-1 with 33 Kos.
5. Sergio Martinez
Argentina’s Sergio Martinez was a hard-hitting two-time WBC Middleweight Champ who fought pro from 1997 to 2014 and also won the WBO and Lineal titles. He reigned as Lineal Middleweight titleholder for just over four years and the southpaw went 51-3-2 with 28 Kos. Martinez fought mainly in his homeland before relocating to Spain. He was already 44-1-1 when he beat Alex Bunema for the vacant Interim WBC Jr. Middleweight Championship in 2008. He defended it with a draw against Kermit Cintron and lost to Paul Williams in his next outing after moving up to middleweight. In April, 2010 he beat Kelly Pavlik for the WBC, WBO and Lineal Middleweight Titles. The WBO soon stripped Martinez of his title since he was also the junior middleweight champ in another boxing association (WBC). The WBC made an odd move after the new champ defended his title against Williams in a rematch as they also stripped him and handed the title to Sebastian Zbik. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. beat Zbik for the WBC crown and Martinez then beat Chavez to get it back. He defended it once before losing to Miguel Cotto in his final career bout in 2014.
4. Miguel Cotto
Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto won the WBC Middleweight Title by beating Sergio Martinez in June of 2014 and held it until November, 2015 when he was stripped. The 36-year-old Cotto is currently 40-5 with 33 Kos and has is a five-time world champion and the first Puerto Rican to win world championships in four different weight divisions. He was a fine amateur and competed at the 2000 Olympics before turning pro in 2001. Cotto had already won a junior welterweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight title by the time he challenged for Martinez for the WBC and Lineal Middleweight Championships. Cotto had already taken on the likes of Antonio Margarito, Austin Trout, Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Ricardo Mayorga, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Cotto was stripped of the WBC Title when the organization said he didn’t follow their rules leading up to his loss to Canelo Alvarez in November, 2015. However, Cotto said it was because he wouldn’t pay their excessive sanctioning fees. Cotto also lost the Lineal Title against Alvarez and is scheduled to meet Yoshihiro Kamegai on August, 26th for the vacant WBO Jr. Middleweight Title.
3. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
If you’ve been following the list you’ll see that Mexico’s Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez won the WBC Middleweight Championship when Miguel Cotto was stripped of it and Alvarez beat Cotto in November of 2014. The 26-year-old Alvarez is a two-division world champion as he also held junior middleweight titles on two occasions. He was also the Lineal Middleweight Champion from late 2015 to 2017. Alvarez, who’s currently ranked as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, is 49-1-1 with 34 Kos. His lone defeat came to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by majority decision in 2013. In May of 2016 Alvarez was basically stripped of the WBC Title when the organization told him he would lose it if he didn’t meet mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin. Alvarez was given the option of relinquishing the title or being stripped of it, so basically he left it on the table.
2. Marvin Hagler
Southpaw Marvelous Marvin Hagler took on greats such as Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard and went 62-3-2 in his career from 1973 to 1987 with 52 Kos. Hagler was born in Newark, New Jersey and was the Undisputed Middleweight King between 1980 and 1987 with 12 successful title defenses and a knockout ratio of 78 per cent. He was one of the longest-reigning middleweight champs due to his granite chin and punching power. Hagler won the WBA, WBC, and Lineal Titles by stopping Alan Minter in the third round in 1980. He added the vacant IBF Belt in 1983 by beating Wilfred Scypion. Hagler was suddenly stripped of the WBC Title in October, 1984 after beating Mustafa Hamsho by a third round TKO. The WBC said he was stripped because his fight with Hamsho was scheduled for 15 rounds instead of 12. However, they quickly reinstated Hagler as champ after the public outcry. Hagler was then stripped of the WBA and IBF Titles in March, 1987 for fighting Leonard instead of their mandatory challengers. Hagler lost by controversial split decision a month later and never fought again.
1. Carlos Monzon
In many boxing experts’ eyes, Carlos Monzon of Argentina was the best middleweight that ever lived. The rugged Monzon fought between 1963 and 1977 with a record of 87-3-9 with 59 Kos and one no-contest in 100 bouts. He won the WBA, WBC, and Lineal Titles in November, 1970 with a stoppage over Nino Benvenuti. He defended his titles 14 times during his reign of seven years. The WBC stripped the hall of famer in 1975 though when Monzon wouldn’t defend the title against Rodrigo Valdez of Colombia. Monzon would eventually meet Valdez the next year and beat him by 15-round unanimous decision to regain the WBC Title. The two then faced off in a rematch 13 months later in July, 1977 with the fight ending in the same result in Monzon’s final career bout. Over a decade later Monzon was found guilty of killing his wife and died in a 1995 car accident while on a weekend leave from prison.