By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Jim Lampley feels there’s much more at stake for Gennady Golovkin on Saturday night than three middleweight titles, boxing's record for the most consecutive 160-pound championship defenses, his earning power moving forward and his pride.
According to Lampley, who’ll call the fight from ringside for HBO, Golovkin’s entire career will amount to a failure if he doesn’t defeat Canelo Alvarez in their highly anticipated grudge rematch at T-Mobile Arena. Lampley made that assessment during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Friday with Molly Qerim, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, his HBO broadcast partner.
“A lot of people stay too long at the fair and Triple-G is 36 years old, almost 37,” Lampley said. “When he weighs in [Friday] at 160 pounds, that will be the 390th time he has weighed in at 160 pounds [as an amateur and pro]. You think you could find any other boxer who’s weighed in at the same weight 390 times? It’s an absolutely incredible career. He’s trying to make a statement [Saturday] night to say that he’s the greatest middleweight of all time. But if he loses the fight, his entire career was a failure.”
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) will attempt to exact revenge against Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs), whom Golovkin feels he beat in their first fight last September 16 at T-Mobile Arena. Golovkin also is angry at Alvarez because the Mexican superstar failed two performance-enhancing drug tests in February for clenbuterol, which caused the cancelation of their rematch, originally scheduled for May 5 at T-Mobile Arena.
“Triple-G’s whole life is on the line, not just his boxing career,” Lampley said. “His whole life is on the line [Saturday] night. Because if he loses this fight, then everything he did from the moment he left Athens in 2004 was wrong. If he loses this fight, he’s not just losing to Canelo. He’s losing to the six years he spent in Europe at the beginning of his professional career, chasing a title held by Felix Sturm, for which he was never going to get a chance to compete [to win].
“He’s losing to a decision he made about how to construct his career, that basically put him in limbo for six years and ultimately brought him to the United States as something of an underground legend. What would Triple-G be if he had come straight from his loss in Athens at the end of the Olympics in 2004 to the United States? Could’ve been an entirely different story. Could’ve been a much, much bigger star. Could’ve had a larger imprint on the history of boxing.”
If the slightly favored Golovkin beats Alvarez in their HBO Pay-Per-View main event Saturday night, Lampley would advise him to retire on the highest note of his 12-year pro career. Golovkin stands to make more than $30 million from their rematch and Lampley thinks he’ll have made the emphatic statement he seeks if he joins Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the only fighters to have victories over Alvarez.
“In the eyes of most observers last year he fought the best possible opponent and he won the fight, in the eyes of most observers,” Lampley said. “So how can I say he is already an old 36? He might be teetering on the edge. But he also might have one more great performance in him. And if he can deliver that great performance and he can this fight the way his legacy and his destiny require him to do, then he’s made his statement. I would advise him to retire – I really would. I don’t think he will. But I think at the end of the day, there’s nothing else Triple-G can do to further polish his apple if he wins this fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.