Eddie Hearn understands Gennadiy Golovkin’s point.

Golovkin’s co-promoter believes the IBF middleweight champion has been unfairly criticized for publicly refusing to fight Canelo Alvarez next. Landing a third bout against Alvarez was one of Golovkin’s main motivations for signing a six-fight, nine-figure contract with DAZN last year, but Hearn feels Golovkin’s insistence on fighting Kamil Szeremeta next is reasonable because that was the plan DAZN devised for Golovkin when Alvarez refused last year to face him a third time.

Alvarez since has changed his mind. The Mexican icon now is willing to battle Golovkin again in his next fight.

Hearn pointed out during a recent appearance on Sports Illustrated’s boxing podcast, though, that Golovkin has a signed contract to oppose Poland’s Szeremeta next. The Kazakh knockout artist would risk being stripped of the IBF middleweight title for the second time, Hearn cautioned, if he doesn’t make that mandatory defense in his first fight following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Well, I feel that, actually, Gennadiy’s had a little bit of an unfair rap over this,” Hearn told host Chris Mannix. “Because, actually, if you look at what happened, you know, Gennadiy signed his contract with DAZN with a view to fighting Canelo Alvarez in September [2019]. … It was always gonna be his second fight, effectively, so he was always gonna fight Steve Rolls [last June] and then he was gonna fight Canelo in September of last year. OK? We know what happened. You know, Canelo and Golden Boy [Promotions], they weren’t in agreement that that was the fight they were gonna move forward with. So, all of a sudden, Golovkin is gutted. You know, he wants to fight Canelo Alvarez. This is the reason that he did the deal, to move forward and be under one banner with the same guy that he wanted to fight so badly.

“And then he was told, ‘We can’t make that fight.’ He went away, and when we spoke to DAZN, it was very clear. ‘Look, you can’t fight Canelo right now. But what you’re gonna do is, you’re gonna fight [Sergiy] Derevyanchenko for the title. Then you’re gonna have your mandatory defense. And then you’re gonna fight Canelo Alvarez. OK? And that will be in September of 2020.’ OK? So, Gennadiy Golovkin went away, we negotiated with Derevyanchenko, we made that fight. We then negotiated with Szeremeta, we signed a contract with Szeremeta to fight Gennadiy Golovkin. It was done. It was agreed. And [Golovkin] turned around and he went, ‘OK, look, I wanted Canelo Alvarez, but that’s my plan. I signed the contract. That’s what I’m doing.’ Fast forward, he fights Derevyanchenko. ‘Fight of the Year’ contender. He was due to fight Szeremeta in March or April. Now we know obviously that was not possible. But he has a signed contract with Szeremeta. You know, he’s almost been messed around, he feels, once. So, he got a new plan, signed that.”

Before the coronavirus outbreak brought the boxing business to a halt two months ago, Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) expected to fight Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs) on June 6, perhaps in his native Kazakhstan. Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) was supposed to challenge WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) on May 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The Golovkin-Szeremeta and Alvarez-Saunders events were canceled to the coronavirus crisis.

DAZN executives are more cost-conscious in an economy damaged badly by the pandemic and now are pushing for Alvarez and Golovkin to fight next. That’s the most impactful fight DAZN can make among boxers the streaming service has under contract, but the 38-year-old Golovkin wants to stick to their pre-pandemic plan.

“Now [DAZN] is saying, ‘No, no. Actually, now you’ve got to fight Canelo in September,’ ” Hearn said. “So, one is if he does that, he’ll probably lose his IBF title. We know how strict they were about the Canelo situation, anyway. And two, he hasn’t boxed. You know, by the time the Szeremeta fight comes around, he probably wouldn’t have boxed for nearly a year. And he’s coming off an absolute war. So, I think in situations where there’s contracts in place, you know, my plan is not to just come in and tear up contracts and say, ‘Sorry, mate, well the game’s changed.’ You know, there’s promises that have been made not just to Golovkin, but to Szeremeta as well. Those contracts and emails have been sent to the IBF, confirming the mandatory has been signed.

“So, you know, and I think Gennadiy, who really doesn’t speak up too much, feels a little bit like, ‘Hang on, guys. Like, I wanted the Canelo fight. You gave me this other plan. I’ve signed into this now. And now I’ve got to rip this up and go again.’ What I would like to see happen is I would like to see Gennadiy Golovkin fight Szeremeta in August and I would like to see Billy Joe Saunders fight Canelo in September. And then I would like to see in December, the winners fight. Because [Alvarez-Golovkin III] is one fight where we really do need to put that into the DAZN calendar.”

 Hearn, whose company promotes Saunders as well, would benefit more financially from Alvarez fighting Saunders and Golovkin, as opposed to Alvarez only boxing Golovkin a third time. Streaming Golovkin-Szeremeta, Alvarez-Saunders and Alvarez-Golovkin III if Alvarez and Golovkin were to win those bouts would be extremely costly for DAZN, which Hearn acknowledged could lead to impasse.

“Listen, Canelo-Billy Joe Saunders is a great fight,” Hearn said. “And Gennadiy Golovkin against Szeremeta, [Golovkin is a] big favorite, but also his record-breaking defense. And if we can roll that into Canelo against Triple-G, if they’re both out of that, in December, that’s what I’m saying to the DAZN guys right now. ‘You have an obligation and a signed contract for Golovkin to fight Szeremeta. Let’s get that done in August. Canelo, if you wanna fight in the meantime. We agreed terms with Billy Joe Saunders. No problem. You two fight in [September].’

“And then you can go back to the customer, the subscriber, and say, ‘Great news. We’ve got Golovkin-Szeremeta, Canelo against Billy Joe. And guess what? [Golovkin and Alvarez win] and they’re in the ring in December. And then, hopefully, in December we’re in a situation where gates and live crowds can return in Las Vegas.”

 Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.