By Keith Idec
As much as they might hate to admit it, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin need each other.
The sooner their promoters accept this financial and public-relations reality, they can stop wasting time and hammer out a deal to reschedule their middleweight championship rematch for September 15. For various reasons, that’s what needs to happen as soon as possible for both boxers.
For Alvarez, the faster fans and media begin discussing their rematch and stop focusing on how he and his team have mishandled much of this clenbuterol debacle, the better off the suspended superstar will be. But each day that passes without Alvarez giving blood and/or urine samples to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, the harder it’ll be for him to move beyond the undeniable damage done to his reputation since it was revealed two months ago that he twice tested positive for a banned substance in February.
Regardless of whether you believe Alvarez’s contention that contaminated meat consumed in his native Mexico was the source of clenbuterol turning up in his system, his decision not to remain in the WBC’s “Clean Boxing Program” in the immediate aftermath of the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspending him six months is incomprehensible.
Even if it isn’t required as part of his settlement agreement with the NSAC, not getting tested regularly right after this PED ordeal only welcomes more skepticism regarding Alvarez’s failed tests. Alvarez said when he withdrew from the Golovkin rematch April 3 that he has always been a clean fighter and would do anything necessary to prove that moving forward.
The 27-year-old Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) has taken the exact opposite approach since making those statements, much to the detriment of his legacy. Eric Gomez, Golden Boy Promotions’ president, told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday that Alvarez will submit to testing only once contracts have been finalized for his rematch against Golovkin.
That revelation led Alvarez’s antagonists to wonder why he wouldn’t have just remained in the WBC’s program, particularly if he has nothing to hide. It isn’t as if he hasn’t earned more than enough money to pay for year-round testing out of his own pocket to at least do some damage control.
The PED speculation aside, Alvarez also needs to fight Golovkin again to restore some credibility inside the ring.
Despite the dubious draw on their records, the vast majority of boxing fans and media believe Golovkin beat Alvarez in their 12-round fight September 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It was a reasonably competitive fight, though not quite the entertaining encounter we all expected.
Alvarez just didn’t do enough to win it, Adalaide Byrd’s absurd scorecard notwithstanding. He has an opportunity to prove that he’s capable of beating Golovkin by boxing him again September 15, the date on which Alvarez announced he’ll return to the ring last month.
The former junior middleweight and middleweight champion simply cannot afford to face anyone other than Golovkin in what would be his first fight in almost exactly one year. He has taken entirely too much criticism over the past two months to try to come back against a huge underdog like Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan or someone marginally better, especially since the expensive ex-champion’s return figures to be an HBO Pay-Per-View event.
As the unquestioned ‘A’ side in this equation, Alvarez would make more for facing someone else than Golovkin. That doesn’t make taking that path of less resistance a sensible choice.
Gomez assured BoxingScene.com that Alvarez doesn’t want to fight anyone other than Golovkin in four months.
“Canelo gave us the full green light,” Gomez said. “He said, ‘Get the fight. That’s what I want.’ And Canelo said, ‘If it doesn’t happen, then get me someone else. Whoever. Any of the top guys.’ But that’s what he wants. He wants that fight.”
Golovkin reiterated time and again before and after he knocked out Vanes Martirosyan on Saturday night that he, too, wants the Alvarez rematch next more than any other fight. The Kazakh knockout artist also made sure to point out that the success of the remainder of his career doesn’t hinge on facing Alvarez again.
“Let’s just not put all the eggs in one basket with Canelo,” Golovkin said. “There’s a couple of other good fighters – maybe not as good [for me] financially. But Canelo is not the only option. … There are some other boxers that should be given a chance. Let’s not only talk about Canelo. It’s not only Canelo at this weight.”
Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, mentioned traveling to Japan to fight WBA world middleweight champion Ryota Murata, who’s a huge star in his homeland. That’s probably Golovkin’s most profitable alternative to Alvarez and Golovkin would be heavily favored to beat Murata (14-1, 11 KOs), even if the fight took place in Tokyo.
A rematch with Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs), the WBA’s mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s “super” title, mandatory defenses against WBC interim champion Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) and the IBF’s top-ranked challenger, Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs), and a full middleweight title unification fight against Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) also are among Golovkin’s top options.
“I think there’s a lot of different options,” Loeffler said. “As Gennady said, the biggest fight is with Canelo. But now it seems like the middleweight division has opened up and it actually seems like these guys wanna fight Triple-G. You know, before they would scatter for the hills.”
Fights against Murata, Jacobs, Charlo, Derevyanchenko and Saunders all are intriguing, but Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) shouldn’t seriously consider any of those opponents prior to battling Alvarez a second time.
While Golovkin has every right to be incensed by Alvarez’s behavior since withdrawing from their rematch, he shouldn’t allow his pride to push him away from what makes the best business sense. As fascinating as it is to discuss those other options, it would be foolish for Golovkin to not take advantage of the massive monetary opportunity that awaits him by boxing Alvarez again September 15.
There is much more interest in their rematch now than there was just three months ago, when their May 5 rematch was officially announced. This prolonged PED scandal and all the bad blood it has generated among Alvarez and Golovkin, as well as their teams, have made this rematch bigger now than it’ll ever be at any other point.
At 36, Golovkin cannot afford to pass up this type of payday. If he were to struggle yet beat Murata, Jacobs, Charlo, Derevyanchenko or Saunders, he would be paid less for an Alvarez rematch if they negotiated to schedule it for next May 4.
That’s just too risky for Golovkin, who some have estimated could earn more than $20 million for a second fight against Alvarez. Fighting Alvarez next also would afford Golovkin the chance to thoroughly beat Alvarez and eliminate doubt about that lone blemish on his record, however unwarranted that draw might seem to most boxing enthusiasts.
Like it or not, Golovkin needs Alvarez at this point in his career. Alvarez needs Golovkin just as much.
The sooner Alvarez, Golovkin and their teams accept this and reschedule their rematch for September 15, the better.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.