By Andreas Hale
We’re three weeks away from May 5th and Gennady Golovkin still doesn’t have an opponent thanks to Canelo Alvarez’ failed drug test and the inability to find a worthy opponent to fill in on short notice.
As the days continue to go by, people are wondering whether or not it’s worth it for GGG to fight on May 5th. The venue location has already shifted from Las Vegas to StubHub in Carson, California in anticipation of what will be slower tickets sales compared to what was at hand with Canelo-GGG 2. But now the problem has become finding somebody to step into the ring that makes sense.
Either way, should Golovkin and his team continue to push for a fight on May 5th or throw in the towel and look ahead to the Canelo fight either in September or next May?
There are pros and cons for both.
At 36 years of age, Golovkin is no spring chicken and the fact that he’s put in a full training camp means that he should definitely look to beat up on somebody during Cinco de Mayo weekend. Wasting training camps at this age does the body no favors. The last thing someone like Golovkin wants to deal with is a hiatus. And taking time off when he is used to fighting no less than twice a year is a perfect recipe for ring rust. Nobody beats Father Time, although some have held up a fight longer than expected. But we truly don’t know if and when age is going to catch up to Golovkin and how it will affect him. Staying busy will allow trainer Abel Sanchez to see what exactly is going on with his fighter in advance of the rematch with Canelo, who is almost a decade his junior.
Ultimately, staying sharp is the name of the game for Golovkin. As mentioned in a previous column, the time off helps Canelo far more than it does GGG considering that Canelo is just now reaching the prime years of his boxing career while Golovkin could be dangerously close to the years of decline. For that particular reason, he should fight on May 5th. Also, regardless of the opponent, it will keep Golovkin in front of fight fans. He’s still the B-side of the Canelo fight and hasn’t quite reached the appeal that his Mexican counterpart has. Fighting and demolishing an opponent could help out.
But there are cons when it comes to having a fight on May 5th. The first comes in the form of an opponent. The challenge for Tom Loeffler is to find an opponent that isn’t a complete pushover but is certainly not an absolute tomato can. And that’s very problematic on short notice considering that Golovkin isn’t quite a household name and can’t sell out a building punching a pillow like Canelo could and, arguably, has done in the past. If they manage to pull together a fight against an opponent deemed unfit by boxing fans, fair or unfair, it will be a bad reflection on GGG’s drawing power should he fail to sell a significant amount of seats at Stubhub Arena.
But this opponent thing has become quite the issue. The latest name being tossed around is Vanes Martirosyan. Martirosyan hasn’t fought in two years since losing to Erislandy Lara and has yet to face any quality competition above 154 pounds. He’ll certainly be undersized and those 24 months outside of the ring will lead to an almost certain one-sided destruction. Perhaps more important is the fact that Martirosyan isn’t a name that is going to draw any boxing fans out to see him. Nobody is going to be exciting to see Golovkin throttle Martirosyan. But what other options do they have?
Undefeated Jamie Munguia was the first name up but the 21-year-old was removed because sources stated that the Nevada State Athletic Commission wouldn’t approve him because he has been relatively untested throughout his young career. They also tried with Spike O’Sullivan but couldn’t pay the man enough to step in and eat what in all likelihood will be a beatdown.
As far as actual competition goes, Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade and Sergiy Derevyanchenko are the only names that could be deemed worthy of of stepping in on short notice. However, neither fighter is a name that could boost sales on short notice and both could be considered “too dangerous” for a fight that is simply supposed to serve as a “keep busy” fight before the inevitable rematch with Canelo. As good as Andrade has been, his inconsistent appearances have lessened his appeal and rendered him as too good to fight for a lot of the best fighters in and around his weight class. Derevyanchenko is also undefeated and the mandatory for GGG’s IBF middleweight title. It’s unlikely, but both fighters could expose Golovkin in advance of the big blockbuster fight. More importantly, who is GGG going to fight if he beats Canelo?
Do you see the conundrum developing here? He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Fighting a lesser talent will keep him sharp, but the cost would be exposing him as someone who isn’t necessarily a box office draw. And that can hurt negotiations moving forward. He also can’t take on one of the better fighters in the division because neither have are a draw but are dangerous in the grand scheme of things. However, sitting on the bench could upset fans who just want to see GGG fight. There’s also the lingering issue of how long Canelo is going to be suspended. If it’s just until September, GGG can pass on a fight and wait for Canelo. But if we have to wait another year, Golovkin should fight now and look to get Billy Joe Saunders in the ring to unify the titles before the Canelo fight.
Ultimately, at this juncture, GGG should probably take a seat. It stinks, but it’s not his fault. His team has done everything in their power to secure a fight but it might not be in the cards. Hopefully, fight fans remember who is at fault and not try to place any of the blame on GGG.