By Keith Idec
The IBF didn’t do itself any financial favors by stripping Gennady Golovkin of its middleweight title Wednesday.
By following its own rules – strangely a commendable move among often-unscrupulous sanctioning organizations – the IBF cost itself six figures in sanctioning fees by removing Golovkin as its middleweight champion. The New Jersey-based IBF would’ve made more money from sanctioning a Golovkin fight for its 160-pound title, particularly a rematch against Canelo Alvarez, than it’ll take from the purses of Sergiy Derevyanchenko and whoever its No. 1 middleweight contender fights for its suddenly unclaimed crown.
In an interesting twist among sanctioning bodies that typically cost fighters money, the IBF inadvertently did Golovkin multiple financial favors when it surprisingly stripped him.
Golovkin obviously will have to pay one less sanctioning fee the next time he fights, which often are negotiated sums in lucrative events such as the Canelo rematch. The Kazakh knockout artist still will have to pay for the right to defend the WBA, WBC and IBO titles, but he won’t owe the IBF anything out of his seven-figure purse.
Beyond those savings, by eliminating making a mandatory defense against Derevyanchenko as even an option for Golovkin, the IBF’s decision apparently has made him come to his senses and reconsider less than the 50-50 split Golovkin demanded recently for a second fight against Alvarez.
Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a story posted to its website Wednesday night that Golovkin has changed his stance on a 50-50 split and wants to fight Alvarez again September 15.
That’s what makes the most financial sense for a 36-year-old champion who won’t have another opportunity to make potentially $30 million in one night if an opponent other than Alvarez beats him before he can secure that career-high payday. If he were to keep winning, Golovkin would have to fight five or six times, maybe more, to make what he could earn in what has become an even more intriguing middleweight championship rematch since Alvarez was suspended for failing two performance-enhancing drug tests in February.
While Golovkin clearly didn’t want to fight the unbeaten but unheralded Derevyanchenko next, his irrepressible insistence on keeping all his titles seemingly clouded Golovkin’s judgment once Alvarez withdrew from their scheduled May 5 rematch April 3. Golovkin should’ve vacated the IBF title, rather than paying the IBF a $20,000 fee to request the exception he eventually received to fight Vanes Martirosyan, rather than Derevyanchenko, on May 5 in Carson, California.
Yes, it’s all too easy for a reporter to tell a fighter who worked extremely hard to win a world title to simply give it up. But boxing Derevyanchenko in what would’ve been a dangerous fight, and for a fraction of what Golovkin can collect for fighting Alvarez again, never made any financial sense.
Ultimately, this is about Golovkin securing as much money as possible for the financial future of his family, which includes two young children. And it’s not like defeating Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) would’ve done anything to enhance Golovkin’s legacy.
A prideful fighter like Golovkin, once the monster most didn’t want to fight, will have a tough time accepting that his critics contend that he ducked Derevyanchenko. But this fragile stage in his career is about maximizing his earnings while there’s still such high demand for an Alvarez rematch.
A second bout between Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) and Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) will never be more marketable or more profitable than it is now. Even if Golovkin were to have beaten Derevyanchenko, there still would be younger, undefeated challengers for him to fight, contenders detractors would claim Golovkin avoided if he instead pursued more lucrative alternatives.
Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs), the WBC’s interim middleweight champion and its mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s WBC crown, currently tops that list. Boxing fans understandably want to see Golovkin fight Charlo, Derevyanchenko, Demetrius Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) and, to a lesser degree, Ryota Murata (14-1, 11 KOs).
Billy Joe Saunders was an appealing option for Golovkin, too, because Golovkin has long professed a desire to own all of boxing’s recognized middleweight titles at the same time. England’s Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) possesses the WBO title Golovkin would’ve needed to win to achieve that dream.
Problem is, even if Golovkin would’ve added the WBO belt to his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC championships, mandatory responsibilities wouldn’t have allowed him to keep those five titles long. Besides, sensible boxing fans know Golovkin is the middleweight champion of the world until an opponent proves otherwise inside the ring.
Regardless, Golovkin apparently realizes the time has come for the longtime middleweight champion to put his pride aside and embrace the biggest, most profitable fight available to him.
He should be compensated for the trouble Alvarez’s two positive tests for clenbuterol caused him recently. Golovkin settled for a reported purse of $1.2 million for the Martirosyan match, when he was supposed to make somewhere between $25 million and $30 million for the Alvarez rematch.
That concession essentially has been made by Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, offering Golovkin a 60-40 split for their second showdown. Golovkin accepted a 70-30 split for their first fight and was willing to take a 65-35 split for their rematch when it was initially negotiated for May 5.
An angry Golovkin wanted more money once Alvarez’s clenbuterol debacle destroyed their May 5 rematch. That was an equitable expectation met with a reasonable response of 60-40.
Demanding a 50-50 split was unrealistic, despite that Golovkin is the undefeated defending champion who should’ve won a decision in their first fight September 16 in Las Vegas. His undeserved draw and suspension aside, Alvarez remains the unquestioned ‘A’ side in their rematch.
You need not look any further than their pay-per-view production and reported purses for proof.
That said, Alvarez will make more money for fighting Golovkin than he would for facing anyone else September 15. From a credibility standpoint, the besmirched superstar needs to get in the ring with Golovkin again as well.
Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs), who was offered a fight against Alvarez on Tuesday, is a dangerous alternative for the Mexican icon. Similar to Golovkin’s fight against Derevyanchenko, facing Jacobs makes little sense for Alvarez when he could make much more money for boxing Golovkin again.
Alvarez isn’t the one dissatisfied with his eight-figure split, though. It’s up to Golovkin to become more reasonable and ensure he gets the opportunity to make Alvarez pay the best way Golovkin knows how.
If stripping Golovkin of its middleweight title Wednesday indeed leads him back to his rematch against Alvarez, the IBF will have done him more than one financial favor.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.