Look Yonder! The Gennady Golovkin-Dominic Wade preview
Déjà vu comes back around again when middleweight linchpin Gennady Golovkin makes his 2016 debut at the Forum in Inglewood, California on Saturday night against Dominic Wade, an opponent perhaps even less deserving than last year’s iteration of the scapegoat. At least Willie Monroe Jr. could claim some credibility as the winner of “Boxcino,” a legitimate, if middling, tournament. Wade? We’ve only managed to come up with a trio of facts: 1) He’s undefeated; 2) he was once a top-notch amateur and, most tellingly, 3) his anonymity might be his greatest threat against “GGG.” Of the last point, one only needs to reference the last time Wade stepped through the ropes when he barely squeaked by with a split decision against the 41-year-old Sam Soliman – and that was 10 months ago.
If the critical mood that accompanies Saturday night’s outing is tepid, it’s certainly not reflected in the promotion, in which, once again, a card topped by Golovkin – paired with dangerously dexterous flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez – has managed to sell tickets despite the anonymity of his opponent. Few will disagree that Golovkin, 34-0 (31), is a solid box office attraction but, in K2 Promotions’ unceasing quest to have its charge face off against Mexican superstar and WBC/lineal middleweight champion Saul Alvarez, one wonders how many more Wades and Monroes will be sacrificed to Golovkin for public consumption. For better or worse, this is the path K2 has chosen to tread and if that means fighting listless mandatories picked out by the whim of the sanctioning bodies, so be it.
Golovkin, Karaganda, Kazakhstan, turned 34 earlier this month, and that should’ve given K2 Promotions Managing Director Tom Loeffler and company some pause as they handed out congratulatory hugs. For Golden Boy Promotions, Alvarez’s promoter, this can only be good news. Like a hawk circling its prey, they’ll pick up the phone and sign the contract as soon as they feel Golovkin reveals the sort of weaknesses their flagship fighter can take advantage of – all still for the right price, of course. So much was said recently by Golden Boy brass, Eric Gomez, “Gennady’s not the first guy to try and goad ‘Canelo’ into a fight and he’s not going to be the last,” Gomez told the Los Angeles Times. “That doesn’t make fights. If (Golovkin) thinks insulting him will make the fight, he’s mistaken. Will the fight happen? It’s going to happen. It’s a matter of when. And we’ll make the fight when we feel it’s the best time.”
This is disingenuous rhetoric at best but can you blame Golden Boy? As a business, they’re only doing the natural thing in protecting their key investment, a position made apparent by their decision to match Amir Khan against Alvarez in a pay-per-view fight on May 7.
Last year, Jimmy Tobin wrote about the dearth of credible opponents for WBO featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko, a situation that can be aptly applied to Golovkin’s case: “This is the age of gratuitous catchweights and contractual concessions, and unfortunately, to not acquiesce even a little to current trends stands to put Lomachenko’s development at odds with his ambition…Lomachenko is not going to sneak up on anyone. But if he is as good as he appears, a pound or two is not going to undo him.”
As unfair as these demands are to the true middleweight champion, as insulting as they are to boxing historicity, such compromises may need to be made by the Golovkin camp, if it wishes to prove the Kazakh bomber is truly what it says he is and what we, most importantly, assume him to be.
If a bout with Alvarez is put off until late-2017, maybe the options are to look yonder. Wade, 18-0 (12), who snatched an opportunity brazenly rejected by British titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, is a client of Al Haymon. Fights are made for political and financial reasons first before a fighter’s ambition is considered in the negotiations and, incredibly, both qualifications lined up for this fight. It’s difficult to tell, at this point, if Golovkin-Wade is nothing more than a one-off or an indication of things to come but that Wade’s services were greenlighted by Haymon seems to at least indicate the possibility of future trading. If K2 cannot pin down a fight with Alvarez later this year, if it cannot broker a unification match with WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders, perhaps it can get – in an ironic twist – Haymon darling Danny Jacobs to commit to the task.
Should Wade, Largo, Maryland, somehow hand Golovkin a defeat, all this hypothesizing won’t mean anything after April 23. It won’t happen, though, no matter how diligently one plays the storyline of the kid who grew up on a diet of street fights in the DC slums. He’s had four fights in two years. All one might hope for Wade, who remains without a ring name, is that his jab and sharp right might somehow briefly disrupt the usual Golovkin narrative. Indeed, going the distance may be the only form of victory possible for the Headbangers member and a most damning outcome for one of boxing’s most ruthless executioners.