By Rick Reeno
Over the past few weeks, a lot has been said and a lot has been written with respect to a potential fight between WBA/IBO middleweight champion Gennady "GGG" Golovkin (33-0, 30KOs) and WBA super middleweight king Andre Ward (28-0, 15KOs).
As the finishing touches were being made to Golovkin's October 17th unification with IBF champion David Lemieux - Ward's promoter, Roc Nation Sports Chief Operating Officer David Itskowitch, emailed an official offer to Golovkin's promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions.
According to Loeffler , the offer was rejected because K2 had already finalized Golovkin's upcoming HBO Pay-Per-View fight with Lemieux - and the winner would become the mandatory challenger to the November 21st showdown between WBC champion Miguel Cotto and Mexican superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
Loeffler indicates that their strategy, since last year, has been to unify the middleweight division.
However, during that period they did explore potential fights at super middleweight with both Carl Froch and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
When it came it Ward, Loeffler and Golovkin's trainer Abel Sanchez made it very clear that a catch-weight of 164-pounds would be required. They also feel their boxer deserves a bigger portion of the monetary split. Roc Nation's offer was an even 50-50 deal.
Golovkin came under fire for his catch-weight demand. Loeffler explained that Golovkin fighting at the full weight limit of 168 would only be considered if the event was financially worth the risk. They felt a fight with Ward would not have generated the same financial benefits as a fight with Froch or Chavez.
“We’ve always said when we first got to HBO that we wanted to unify the titles. We said we’d move up to 168 for mega events. Fights with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Carl Froch would have been big events and that’s why we were willing to move up and we were willing to go down for a Floyd Mayweather fight before but we always said we wanted unification fights,” Loeffler told BoxingScene.com.
Michael Yormark, president and chief of branding and strategy for parent company Roc Nation, disputes some of the information being circulated in the press.
The Roc Nation executive reached out to BoxingScene.com to respond, on behalf of his company and their fighter, to some of the published statements from Golovkin's team members.
According to Yormark, Roc Nation was never afforded the opportunity to discuss weight, the financial terms, potential dates, which fighter was the A-side or any other factor - because their offer was turned down in 36 minutes.
"I respect Tom and he's a nice man, but as it relates to this issue - he's way off-base," Yormark told BoxingScene.com. "The chatter that you've been hearing from Triple G's camp is inappropriate, inaccurate and we need to clear this up immediately."
"Andre Ward has always fought the best opponents that were available, and that holds true today as well. We want to fight the best and we obviously consider Triple G a formidable opponent. We made an offer to fight Triple G. It was the number one priority on Andre's list."
"We made him an offer, prior quite frankly, to knowing about the fight with Lemieux. But regardless of that fight, the offer was very, very clear - that he and Andre would both have one fight before they fought each other, and they would fight each other sometime in the first half of 2016. So obviously the fight with Lemieux would continue to move forward and the next fight would be Andre in 2016.
"They received the offer and in 36 minutes we got a response which basically stated 'we cannot accept the offer and we're going in a different direction.' In 36 minutes [they turned it down], so that tells me there was not even any consideration given to the offer, because at the end of the day Triple G always knew that he would never fight Andre Ward. He's stated publically, and in writing, that he would go up to 168 to fight anybody but Andre. We put an official offer on the table and we got a 'no' in 36 minutes.
"I think you can assume that a fight between Triple G and Andre Ward is a fight that people would love to see. It would be great for HBO. I think, for the most part, everyone was on board - with the exception of Triple G and his camp. How do you respond in 36 minutes with a 'no' - unless you had no intention of fighting Andre Ward.
"The only way you respond in 36 minutes is if you had no intention of ever fighting this guy. That's what 36 minutes tells you. Because if they did had a desire to fight Andre, and get in there with one of the best fighters in the world, they would have responded with 'thank you for your offer, we're going to discuss this with our fighter and get back to you.' That's typically how it's done. You don't respond in 36 minutes."
"The split would have been a secondary issue behind making the fight and having a desire in making the fight. If they had responded to the email and said 'listen, let's sit down, let's negotiate and let's see if we can come to terms' - then that's a different story. We didn't have the opportunity to talk a split, we didn't have the opportunity to talk about who was the B or the A-side. We didn't have the opportunity talk about any details. To come out and say who would be the A-side and talk about splits, the reality was - they said 'no' in 36 minutes."
"Right now, Andre Ward is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and they don't want nothing to do with him. I don't care what weight it is, I don't care what city it is, I don't care what country they fight in - they don't want nothing to do with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. That's not on their agenda. They can continue to fight journeymen and protect his record and try to continue to build this invincibility aura that he currently has. The fight with Andre Ward would have bee the fight to prove to people if he's as good as people think."
Based on the circumstances, Ward and Roc Nation have moved on. Yormark was unable to confirm the details, but according to multiple sources in the industry - Ward is going to move up to light heavyweight, commit to a multi-fight deal with HBO, and eventually face light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in a high profile showdown in 2016. Ward's return is slated for the Cotto-Alvarez HBO Pay-Per-View undercard.
An official announcement regarding Ward's future is coming soon, says Yormark.
"Triple G has fought journeymen for his entire career. It's obvious. We all know that. Andre Ward has fought the best of the best. Triple was at the top of his list. He was denied the opportunity to fight him in 36 minutes, so we've moved on. We'll be announcing our plans in the very near future, as to what Andre will be doing for the remainder of 2015 and in 2016. But we are moving on because we want to move forward and fight the best," Yormark said.