Even before Amir Khan landed on the canvas this past Saturday night in Las Vegas, fans were salivating over an expected Saul “Canelo” Alvarez/Gennady “GGG” Golovkin matchup. While Khan did put up a tremendous fight against Alvarez, channeling his inner Mayweather, Alvarez’s power proved to be too much in the end.
Following the bout, Alvarez invited Golovkin into the ring, and unleashed a verbal tirade directed at the Kazakhstani champion. To quote Alvarez:
“Like I said in Mexico, ‘We don’t f— around.’ We don’t come to play in this sport. I fear no one in this sport. I’ll fight him right now. Let’s put the gloves on and get in there with him.”
These are the type of comments meant to send the boxing world into a frenzy, showing how badly Alvarez wants to face Golovkin. But go back to November 2015, when Alvarez captured his current WBC, Ring, and lineal Middleweight titles by defeating Miguel Cotto. His post fight comments were almost a carbon copy of what we heard Saturday, and the WBC insisted that the winner of Alvarez/Cotto would face Golovkin next. But despite these comments, and the governing bodies intentions, Golovkin would face, and defeat, mandatory IBF contender Dominic Wade, while Alvarez would defeat Khan. Yet for some reason, Alvarez spoke and the world was sent into a frenzy again over a bout that seems painfully obvious Golden Boy does not want for its prized fighter in Alvarez.
The one difference from then until now however is that the WBC has placed a 15 day negotiation period of both fighters to reach an agreement, or Alvarez risks being stripped of his title. This will force the hand of Alvarez far more than Golovkin, but does it mean the fight will certainly happen? In my opinion, a simple no is the answer. Before we move too far ahead, keep in mind one important piece of information. Alvarez, while holding multiple titles at 160 pounds, has yet to face a true Middleweight fighter. In his 2 bouts since making the move, he has faced Cotto and Khan at a catchweight of 155 pounds. Cotto, over his 45 fight career, has a total of 3 official Middleweight bouts, all of which have been contested at a Catchweight. Khan, of course, had never competed at anything higher than 147 pounds in his 35 bout career.
On the other hand, Golovkin has competed exclusively at 160 pounds for his entire 35 bout career. Some of his opponents may have moved weight classes at some point in their careers, but they have always faced Golovkin at 160 pounds. While 5 pounds may not seem like a lot, for a professional fighter, it may as well be 20 or 30. Weight cutting has become a science in the combat sports world, and anytime you can gain an advantage by having your opponent do more than they are used to, the odds swing in your favor. This seems to be the major sticking point in an Alvarez/Golovkin bout.
Golden Boy head man Oscar De la Hoya can rant and rave all he wants about Alvarez fighting anyone, anywhere at any weight, but it is his comments about a catchweight that will always ring true in fan’s heads. Sure, this may have been applicable in Alvarez’s previous Middleweight clashes, but as noted, neither of those men were true Middleweight fighters. Golovkin most certainly is a true Middleweight however, and seems dead set on only fighting at the Middleweight limit of 160 pounds, as he should expect when competing for a world title. Golden Boy has generally had the upper hand in negotiations with most fighters in the boxing world, but in this case, the power has shifted based on the WBC stepping in. Anything is possible in the crazy world of boxing, but if an agreement cannot be reached because Golovkin will not agree to a Catchweight, it is safe to assume that Alvarez will lose his title. But in the eyes of Golden Boy, this might not be a bad thing.
Currently, the Middleweight division has a total of 8 champions. 5 titles are universally recognized as “official” in the world of boxing, these being the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF and The Ring. The IBF (Golovkin), WBO (Billy Joe Saunders) and The Ring (Alvarez) all have a sole champion, but the remaining 2 are littered with champions. The WBA currently has 3 champions (Golovkin as Super champion, Daniel Jacobs as regular champion, and Alfonso Blanco as interim champion) and the WBC has 2 (Alvarez as regular, Golovkin as interim.)
As it stands now, Alvarez is only ranked in 2 of the governing bodies top 15 fighters, both as a champion. He has no official ranking in the IBF, WBO or WBA, while Golovkin is ranked in 4 of the 5 bodies list, with the WBO being the lone exception. So what happens if Alvarez and Golden Boy decide to give up the WBC strap? Golovkin would almost certainly face number one contender John Sebastian Heiland for the title, and would assumingly emerge victorious. This would give Golovkin a share of at least 3 world Middleweight titles. The only place Golovkin does not seem to have a home with is the WBO, and this could be Alvarez’s next attempt to capture Middleweight gold. Champion Saunders, while talented, is nowhere near the name Alvarez is, which might help the expected Catchweight clause put into a possible Alvarez/Saunders bout.
Golovkin could enter the WBO mix in the future though, a possible bout with WBO 3rd (and 2nd ranked WBA fighter) ranked Arif Magomedov, and force the hand of Alvarez more. Even Alvarez’s Ring title could be in jeopardy, as Golovkin is the number one contender there as well. This seems like a lot of work from Alvarez and his people to hold a world title while not wanting to fight one man. And for everyone to say this is not possible, look no further than the current state of the Light Heavyweight division.
Sergey Kovalev, holder of the WBA, IBF and WBO titles, has been clamouring for a unification bout with WBC champion Adonis Stevenson for some time now. Similar to Alvarez, Stevenson has yapped and called out Kovalev many times, but as of now, has yet to make any of his talk official of paper. It should be noted that while Kovalev is ranked in all bodies top 15, except he WBC, Stevenson is only ranked in the WBC and Ring top 15. Stevenson was recently stripped of his Ring title as well, for failure to defend against decent opposition/mandatory challengers, which is code for Sergey Kovalev basically. With the title now vacant, many expect Kovalev to battle Andre Ward for this title when the two meet later this year, which leaves Stevenson running essentially in no man’s land. Should Kovalev defeat Ward, the 3rd ranked WBC fighter, it could vault him into the mix as well, similar to Golovkin in the WBO. Obviously, all of this could be nothing come May 22nd. But in today’s boxing world, would it really be a surprise to see Alvarez and De la Hoya blame Golovkin for failing to secure the bout, and then take their talents to another governing body?
Basing all of this solely on the comments from both men, dont hold your breath for another fight the boxing world needs, but might not get. Popularity and name brand, while nothing new, is beginning to play far too big a role in the combat sports world. And in a sport such as boxing, which facilitates this behaviour to no end, don’t be surprised to see Golovkin matched up with another less visible name, and take heat from Alvarez and company for doing so, despite it being their fault essentially Golovkin is stuck in this rut.
Pardon my negativity, but boxing has let down the fan base far too many times with overinflated egos and self worth. It is almost expected now to doubt news and then hope it becomes truth, and this bout falls into this category perfectly.
*as this piece was being complete, the WBA has announced that it will not interfere with the mandated bout between this two men by having Golovkin defend his title against anyone else.