Thanks for lunch, at least…
Last Thursday morning, an email alert was sent to specific members of the media inviting them to a luncheon at the Palm in Los Angeles, later that afternoon, that would be hosted by unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, his trainer, Abel Sanchez and the head of GGG Promotions, Tom Loeffler.
It was at that point, speculation ran rampant that an announcement of Golovkin’s latest/newest opponent for the coveted May 5 date would be revealed. At this juncture, Vanes Martirosyan was now in the catbird seat.
But Loeffler began the proceedigs by stating, “Just so everyone knows, everyone was speculating, ‘What’s the announcement going to be today?’ Normally we would have a big announcement; normally we would have a big banner hanging up here announcing a fight. This will be the first media lunch we have here at the Palm basically to announce – that there is no annoucement.”
So yeah, LeBron James had “The Decision”; Golovkin has ‘”The Non-Announcement.”
(But it wasn’t a total loss for us members of the press. As always, the Palm puts out a first-class spread – no hot dogs here – and the salmon was top-notch. Seriously I went back for seconds and, as always, they took care of our parking. At this point, Loeffler’s image needs to be painted on one of the walls, along with these other luminaries at this place, for the many press conferences he’s staged here.)
With well under a month to go before Cinco De Mayo, Loeffler said he would still be working to secure a fight for that particular date for Golovkin (Loeffler Not Feeling Deadline Pressure To Finalize Golovkin Fight)
Loeffler said he put this gathering together to clear up the speculation that was floating around. This much is evident. Their main focus is still going through with the rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who had to withdraw from the rematch with “GGG” after testing positive for clenbuterol and being put on “temporary suspension” by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. And on this coming Wednesday, they will determine his short-to-long term future, as he goes into his disciplinary hearing.
This was the real takeaway from this session.
Golovkin and his team will not make any real decisions for a few more days, as the Mexican’s star learns his fate. After answering questions for over 40 minutes, Loeffler stated, “April 18th will answer a lot of questions,” and he admitted earlier, “We don’t want to do anything that’s going to jeopardize the September fight.”
While there are ”a lot of moving parts,” in Loeffler’s words, the biggest and most important one is just how long a suspension Alvarez will face from the state of Nevada. A six-month suspension would make him eligible to fight again in this jurisdiction in September and face Golovkin on Mexican Independence Day Weekend, as they did in 2017. If not, well, it says here there’s a good chance that the May 5 date goes to “Bolivian” and Golovkin begins the process of either negotiating with WBO middleweight beltholder Billy Joe Saunders or taking care of his mandatory defenses.
While lucrative for Golovkin, the pursuit of Canelo and eventually landing this big-money fight have also come at a certain cost – the inability to be active as he once was. Since September of 2016, when he stopped Kell Brook, he has fought all of two times. There was a time when Golovkin, when he was first brought to the States, was an anomaly as he wasn’t just content to fight twice a year like most world-class, 12-round fighters who had championship belts.
However recently, that has come to a halting grind as they have made the decision to go on Alvarez’s schedule. In all fairness, they really had no choice as, in this situation, Canelo calls the shots. When asked if he was itching to get back to a more active intinerary, Golovkin answered, “Absolutely. Look, right now, it’s a very terrible situation for me. I lose interest in boxing.”
Since fighting four times in 2013 and three times in 2014 and 2015 each, he has fought just twice the past two calendar years. At last check, the public wanted more GGG, not less.
Loeffler added, ”He wants to get back on the schedule where he dictates the pace, not where the opponents dictate the pace. When you have a mandatory and you have drawn-out negotations and a potential purse bid, then that draws out the whole timing. But the good thing is, when Gennady had mandatories, he’s been one of the few champions on his level that has so many titles that stays as active as he wants to stay.
“If he can fight three or four times a year, he can get through all his mandatories without having any issues but when there are roadblocks like this – this fight on May 5 – then that becomes an issue. Naturally there’s Billy Joe Saunders out there to unifiy the titles. That’s been Gennady’s dream but, at some point, if it’s not realistic to make the fight with Saunders, he still has very high expectations of what his worth is to fight ‘Triple G’ and a Billy Joe Saunders fight is nothing compared to a Canelo fight. Even though that would complete Gennady’s dream of unifying all the titles, that’s always been his goal since he started.”
Recently the career has become a full-blown business and money has trumped history. Hey, it’s called “prizefighting” for a reason. Nobody in their right mind in the boxing industry, with any brains (which is an important distinction), would eschew another go-around with Alvarez for an eight million-dollar payday to face a tricky southpaw for a fraction of the amount.
But for those who aren’t so concerned about Golovkin’s bank account (and regardless, he’s doing OK. He’s made a few bucks the past few years) and would like to see more of him, as his prime years wind down, well, if the NSAC does suspend Alvarez for a full year or longer (which many insiders believe will be the case), you just might get your wish.
When this reporter asked Sanchez how he saw Golovkin at age 36, he cracked, “Physically I see him the same,” which drew chuckles from the room. Golovkin then added with a laugh, “I have more experience.”
But on a more serious note, Sanchez added, ”More than physically, I see him more motivated. I think he understands that he just turned 36 and he just seems to be more motivated in the gym.” The veteran trainer noted that even unified cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev is a bit relieved when Golovkin is absent from the gym, as he sets an unrelenting pace for the rest of his stablemates as they train. “It’s fun to watch him be happy; it’s fun to watch him be looking forward to a date even though, in the back of his mind, it may not happen. But it’s fun to watch him smile at the gym because it just gives us a different environment in the gym.”
And the trainer agrees: A busier Golovkin is a better one.
“Absolutely. I think, for the fans, it’s better and, for him, it’s better because he stays focused because he stays not only in the gym but he stays in that kind of mood that he wants to go out and fight. He loves to spar; if I could take all the rest of the stuff in training camp out and just spar it would be great for him.”
Should Alvarez be forcibly sidelined for a year or longer, it says here that Golovkin should shelve May 5 and face Sergey Derevyanchenko (his IBF mandatory) in June and then take care of the rest of his mandatories such as Jermall Charlo (WBC) and Ryoto Murata (the WBA “regular” champion) if a unification bout with Saunders can not be secured.
Regardless, all of these are attractive match-ups.
When asked why a Derevyanchenko fight wasn’t feasible for May 5, Loeffler stated, “We feel under a reduced television fee, under a condensed schedule for marketing a fight, not only would it be disadvantageous for a mandatory but also for Triple G. Triple G sells out the biggest arenas in the world and if we have the proper time to promote and market a fight – nobody does it better than we do for Triple G fights. When you can sell out Madison Square Garden twice with David Lemieux, Daniel Jacobs, and Derevyanchenko would be a huge fight at Madison Square Garden.”
Recently, the May 5 date was turned from a pay-per-view event to a regular HBO broadcast. This was a big factor in why Spike O’Sullivan eventually turned down this opportunity and will now fight on May 4 at the StubHub Center. With this, the purses for this fight went down significantly and HBO’s current boxing budget is, well…in the famous words of Tupac – a dime and a nickel.
Various sources say HBO has a budget of no more than a million dollars for this event. So the question now is: Is Derevyachenko willing to face Golovkin based on that particular number, as an unknown challenger and on short notice? Or is this just more bloviating from his promoter Lou Dibella and an attempt to get a step-aside fee?
“So why would you want to short-change the mandatory challenger and the world champion, squeezing a situation like that? I think Derevyanchenko has gotten more publicity the last week or 10 days than he has ever in his career, which is being linked as Triple G’s mandatory, “Loeffler says.” So there’s a way to hold a fight like that, which makes sense for both sides, that would be the most prudent way to do it, instead of forcing guys to take extremely short situations on the financial side to rush a fight like this, when that fight can actually be built into another big fight.”
Well, if the NSAC shelves Canelo for a full year, this should be the scenario.
And it would be time to resume Golovkin’s fight career.
It was a fun and energetic setting at the Storm House in Salinas, California, where hometown favorite Ruben Villa decisioned the reluctant Marlon Olea over eight rounds to capture the vacant WBO youth featherweight title. There was a full house of just over 900 at this venue, which is used for indoor soccer and fast-pitch softball. It’s a modest start but one that was necessary and there is clearly a fan-base that can be cultivated for Villa, an intelligent boxing southpaw who improved to 11-0 (4).
The plan from Thompson Boxing Promotions and Banner Promotions is to return in the summer, continue to build this market and eventually go onto bigger venues.
Speaking of Murata, he stopped Emanuele Blandamura in eight rounds, in Japan, on Sunday morning. Afterward his co-promoter Bob Arum was telling anyone who would listen that they would be willing to face Golovkin at the end of the year at the Toyko Dome…We have a new WBC flyweight titlisth as Cristofer Rosales bludgeoned Daigo Higa (who failed to make weight for this contest as the defending champion), over nine fast-paced rounds…How bout dem Angels?…OK, no need to panic over the Cavs, LeBron isn’t letting any team lose in the first round of the playoffs – especially in the “Leastern” Conference…So any clarity on the quarterback situation with the Hurricanes after spring ball?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.