MIDDLEWEIGHT champion Gennady Golovkin wants several things. Firstly he wants to retain the WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight titles he hold. He wants revenge on Canelo Alvarez, who controversially drew with “GGG” last September, then even more controversially failed a drug test and was suspended last month. The Kazakh wants to fight more regularly too, three times a year at least. Plus, he wants to unify all four middleweight world titles and become undisputed middleweight champion.
But, through no fault of Golovkin’s, all those goals are becoming increasingly hard to accomplish in tandem.
For a start the Kazakh did not want to be left waiting for Canelo. When Alvarez was obliged to pull out of their rematch, scheduled for May 5 in Las Vegas, “GGG” was determined to fight on the same day.
“I feel very comfortable,” Golovkin said. “I tell him, ‘Tom [Loeffler, his promoter], please, give me a fight for May 5, for big Cinco De Mayo day.’”
Instead of Las Vegas, Golovkin is fighting in Los Angeles, at the Stub Hub Center and, instead of Canelo Alvarez, against Vanes Martirosyan. “If he gives me a chance to stop him, I’ll stop him. If not, I won’t. This is boxing. One punch can not just change a fight, it can change your life,” Golovkin said, in reflective mood.
The job on Saturday is straightforward for the Kazakh – defeat Martirosyan, ideally by stoppage, then move on. But the moving on gets complicated. Alvarez has only been banned for six months. Golovkin therefore could rematch him in September.
But equally the IBF expect him to face his mandatory for that title, Ukrainian middleweight Sergey Derevyanchenko. Keeping his eyes on the upcoming fight, Golovkin said, “For me it doesn’t matter, maybe after this fight we’ll look at the situation and the middleweight division.”
Those obligations put him another stage removed from unifying against WBO champ Billy Joe Saunders.
“He’s just focused on training, he’s just focused on winning on Saturday,” promoter Tom Loeffler explained. “The IBF did grant our request for an exception, so they approved our request and we’re in the process of clarifying those conditions because there was some uncertainty on those. We’re dealing with that on our side and Gennady and Abel are just completely focused on Vanes in the ring for Saturday.
“It all depends on what happens May 5. I always try to look forward but these days everything is so convoluted with Canelo’s suspension – he said he is ready to fight September 15; Gennady does have responsibilities for mandatories; it’s been his dream to unify the division. We have tried to make a fight with Billy Joe Saunders a couple of times and that’s how the whole Kell Brook fight came to be because we wanted to fight Saunders in the UK and they couldn’t do it then it went to [Chris] Eubank then wound up with Brook. It’s always been Gennady’s dream to be undisputed.”
Furthermore, Golovkin would be frustrated only to fight twice in 2018. He thinks, as well as the May clash with Martirosyan, he could box both in September and December. “It used to be we’d fight three or four times a year and the fans got a chance to see him,” his trainer Abel Sanchez said. “Obviously we concentrating on May 5 but hopefully we fight in September and hopefully we fight in December of this year. That way fans get to see him more. He just turned 36 on April 8 so we may not have him for that many more years so let’s enjoy as many fights as we can for as long as we can.”
Loeffler noted, “He’s a unified champion, he has a lot of mandatory responsibilities. He’s normally one of the most active champions in the sport of boxing. When you get bogged down with a mandatory like Danny Jacobs, which took over three months, four months to negotiate that fight, everything got pushed back from a December date to a March date. Then you have negotiations with Canelo, those were extended. Then the rematch with Canelo [still a possibility but postponed]. If it was up to Gennady with his schedule then he would be fighting three or four times a year. He just likes to fight. He likes to train, he likes to fight. He doesn’t mind the sacrifices because he knows boxing can always be a short window.”
Assuming Golovkin beats Martirosyan in the style expected, he will still have a difficult decision – defend his titles, push for to unify all four world belts, or go for revenge and the lucrative showdown with Canelo Alvarez. We’ll know more on May 6.