By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Gennadiy Golovkin arrived at Madison Square Garden on Thursday understandably more pessimistic about boxing Canelo Alvarez a third time than the night he left the famed venue 2½ months ago.
The former middleweight champion had every reason to believe in the early-morning hours of June 9 that he would get his opportunity to avenge the lone loss of his career. They fought five weeks apart, had nine-figure contracts with DAZN that would’ve made negotiations go smoothly and had ample time to promote their third fight.
Furthermore, that was the only fight DAZN executive chairman John Skipper wanted next for Alvarez and Golovkin, the expensive yet attractive clash that would secure subscriptions at an unprecedented clip for the fledgling streaming service.
Unfortunately for Golovkin, Skipper never got a commitment for their third fight from Alvarez in writing. Thus, the Mexican superstar simply refused to fight Golovkin again.
There was nothing Golovkin and not even Skipper could do about it. They’re still at Alvarez’s mercy as it pertains to that third fight, no matter how much it might aggravate Golovkin to think about it.
The Kazakhstan native smiled and politely answered through his translator Thursday when he was asked about Alvarez’s refusal to fight him again. The 37-year-old Golovkin also seemed somewhat resigned to the distinct possibility that their third fight might never happen.
“Let me say this – as I told you before, I was ready to fight in September,” Golovkin said. “It was their decision not to [fight], so let them sort their own things out. And let them make up their own minds. Ask them. I will move on.”
Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) has moved on to Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 KOs), interestingly enough because promoters for Alvarez and Derevyanchenko couldn’t come to an agreement on an IBF-mandated middleweight title fight. Those failed negotiations led the IBF to strip Alvarez of its middleweight title and order a bout between the top-ranked Derevyanchenko and the third-ranked Golovkin for that unclaimed championship October 5 at Madison Square Garden.
Fourteen months ago, the IBF stripped Golovkin of that title because he opted to fight Alvarez in a lucrative rematch, rather than making a mandatory defense against Derevyanchenko. The IBF had allowed Golovkin to make a voluntary defense of its title versus Vanes Martirosyan a month before it stripped him, but on the condition that he would fight Derevyanchenko next.
Golovkin needed an opponent last May 5 because the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Alvarez for six months due to a failed performance-enhancing drug test. Alvarez’s PED ordeal caused a four-month postponement of their rematch, but Golovkin was more confident then that they’d fight again because the 12-round split draw in their first fight was such a controversial result.
Now that Alvarez owns a debatable but official majority-decision win over him, Golovkin finds himself in a familiar position.
“We’ve already been in this situation [with Alvarez], where this fight has been canceled or postponed,” Golovkin said. “So, we’re living in a situation where we don’t know whether it’s gonna happen or not. So, we have a new partnership with DAZN. We have a new plan. So, let’s not just concentrate on Canelo. Let’s just move on and see what’s gonna happen.”
The 29-year-old Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) could move up two weight classes to challenge WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in his next fight. That’ll at least require Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) to beat mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) on Saturday night in Chelyabinsk, Russia, Kovalev’s hometown.
Alvarez had hoped Kovalev would walk away from the fight against England’s Yarde because Kovalev was offered an eight-figure payday to fight him October 26 in Las Vegas. Now Alvarez has to wait to find out if Kovalev can get past the hard-hitting Yarde, who’s comparatively inexperienced, yet dangerous.
If it were up to Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, Golovkin’s co-promoter, believes the third Alvarez-Golovkin fight would’ve been scheduled for September 14. That would’ve been the sensible business decision to accommodate a company that committed a contract to Alvarez that could become worth $365 million.
“I think Golden Boy wanted to make the Gennadiy Golovkin fight,” Hearn said Thursday. “I think they wanted to deliver that fight for DAZN. But clearly, Canelo said, ‘No, not for me right now. I wanna fight Kovalev.’ They missed the boat on the Kovalev fight, and now they’ve gotta wait until Saturday. But if Kovalev loses or Kovalev doesn’t look good or Kovalev gets injured, then they go back to the marketplace, where they’ve already upset a lot of people, and say, ‘Oh, Demetrius, we’ll fight you now.’ And he’ll turn around and say, ‘Not at the numbers we discussed before. You’ve already [blown] us off. Now let’s talk properly.’ ”
Hearn referred to Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs), the WBO middleweight champion his company promotes.
Alvarez’s handlers briefly discussed that middleweight title unification fight with Andrade’s representatives once Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva, informed Golden Boy Promotions late last month that Kovalev would move forward with his fight against Yarde. Like Alvarez and Golovkin, Andrade has a long-term contract with DAZN.
Nevertheless, Hearn considers it more likely that Alvarez and Golovkin eventually will fight a third time. If the favored Golovkin defeats Derevyanchenko and Alvarez conquers Kovalev or another opponent later this year, Hearn anticipates as much demand as ever for Alvarez-Golovkin III.
“I think [Alvarez] will fight him when he decides he wants to fight him,” Hearn said. “I think that’s what it’s about. It’s about, ‘You’re not gonna tell me who to fight. I’ll tell you who I’m fighting.’ You know? But the fact is the best fight in boxing that can be made right now is still Canelo against Triple-G, in my opinion. If Gennadiy looks good on October 5th, the fans are gonna want that fight. They’ve had two great fights. DAZN is gonna want that fight. And both fighters have an obligation to deliver subscribers for DAZN. That’s the fight that does it. So, from Gennadiy’s [perspective], he’s all in.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.