Wheel and deal: Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez set to rematch…again
Five days after it was revealed that there was an agreement reached for a rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin casually showed up at The Palm restaurant, in downtown Los Angeles, on Monday afternoon, for a press conference not exactly set-up to announce the September 15 fight but formally add another belt to his collection. This time, Golovkin received THE RING Magazine’s “Pound-for-Pound” championship belt, once becoming its No.1 ranked P4P fighter.
“We haven’t awarded one in several decades,” said THE RING Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Douglass Fischer, opening the presser. “It was first awarded to Pernell Whitaker in 1993. Ironically after Whitaker faced a Mexican star (Julio Cesar Chavez) and the outcome of that bout was a very controversial draw but the editors of RING Magazine and most of the public knew who really won that fight.”
The designation isn’t all that well-known, and trying to make sense of it all really doesn’t do it justice, but after a presentation and photo op, Golovkin graciously accepted, saying, “Thanks, Doug, for your beautiful present,” then remarked, “Finally.”
Golovkin, the unified WBA/WBC middleweight champion, had just gotten into town, on Friday night, from Moscow, Russia, where he attended the FIFA World Cup opening match the day before, thanks to one of his sponsors. It was just one of many stops in Golovkin’s recent globetrotting, and, as it turns out, his second home was another.
“He’s leaving town again tomorrow. That’s why we had the media lunch for today and everything is still so new. As far as this agreement is concerned, we didn’t have a chance to produce everything,” Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, told UCNLive.com about the presser, which, in effect, had no banner, artwork or new information regarding the event. “Otherwise all the other media events, we’re gonna have the official artwork. We’re gonna have GGG Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions, the whole thing. So we’ll go through a regular promotional cycle, just without the fighters being in the same room at the same time.”
The do-over of their rematch started where the first one ended: in front of a black curtain. Last April, in wake of two failed VADA drug tests, for traces of clenbuterol, Alvarez and his team put together a makeshift press conference announcing the cancellation of the May 5 rematch. Alvarez would later receive a six-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission but maintains his innocence on the matter, citing Mexico’s tainted beef as the cause. Behind that curtain, Jose “Chepo” Reynoso – Canelo’s lifelong coach and once a successful butcher – paced around wondering how this could all happen. There was nothing behind the curtain of Team Golovkin on this day but, whether or not they knew, it stayed in line with the overall theme of the occasion.
A “VADA Approved” menu greeted media members to their free lunch, and considering THE RING Magazine is owned by Golden Boy, there was an irony to the presentation, albeit an example of its unbiased stance. The proverbial jabs, hints and accusations from Golovkin and his team started in wake of Canelo’s blunder, prompting an outspoken campaign through the media about the matter. It showed an aggressive side to Golovkin’s personality, and not only did it fan the flames of a rivalry, it bled into the second negotiation of the rematch. All things considered, Golovkin simply wanted more of the percentage purse, and not even a deadline from Golden Boy would make him budge. Two hours after the deadline, and a panicked tweet by Oscar De La Hoya announcing the fight was off, a deal was reached and Golovkin got what he wanted. Noticeably happy about the situation, the champion remained outspoken about Canelo and didn’t disappoint, once the presser got to what everyone wanted to talk about. In a series of blurbs translated from Kazakh by Samir Azizi, who was at his side, Golovkin gave his thoughts:
On the negotiation with Canelo and Golden Boy:
“My original demand was 50/50 but then, I agreed to do it for 45% because this is exactly how I thought how much it was worth – and they just confirmed that. Therefore that’s how we’re moving along with that. They knew that and they have confirmed that’s exactly how much they’re worth.”
On his mindset after going through a controversial first fight in Las Vegas:
“Truth is such a thing that where, if you can take the truth, you can actually live with it but those who cannot accept the truth get all anxious about it. I feel very comfortable right now.”
On Canelo’s suspension and the cancellation of the first rematch date:
“First of all, everything I said the commission has already proved: He failed a drug test. Therefore if the commission allows us to fight, I will fight. I don’t really care about anything. I just want to fight and I will fight either way.”
On how much respect he’s lost for Canelo (in his own words, speaking in English):
“I don’t know how much, just a lot. Right now he’s a completely different guy. He’s not a sportsman. Right now, it’s a different situation, 100 percent.”
On what he thinks of Canelo as a person:
“I don’t think anything about him, as a human being. I’m not really concerned about him, as a human being. I just hope he will be there on September 15th to fight.”
On his motivation for the rematch:
“I’m always motivated. I’m the champion. It is him who has to be motivated because he has to prove himself.”
On why he thinks Canelo doesn’t want to face him for this promotion:
“I think he simply cannot look into my eyes, and that’s all. Because he knows that I am correct in everything.”
On how satisfying a knockout win would be (in English):
“One hundred percent happy.”
Golovkin, 38-0 (34), seemed anxious to finally start training again for a big fight, even describing it offhandedly as “going back to real life.” The 36-year-old has always voiced a desire to fight frequently and/or fight anyone but the trappings of big business have limited him to fight twice a year, 2018 now being his third in a row. There was a time when Golovkin was outright ducked at middleweight, during his mission to secure all the belts, and, along the way, certain fights were taken in order to force the hands of fellow titleholders.
For example, the night Golovkin trounced Marco Antonio Rubio in two to earn an interim WBC trinket and ultimately become the mandatory opponent for Canelo, who beat Miguel Cotto for the belt. The event was famously nicknamed “Mexican Style,” and, in the post-fight interview, on HBO, it was really the first time Canelo was mentioned, after his latest knockout. Golovkin called him a “good boy.” Canelo would later vacate the title and Golovkin collected it to match the IBF belt he beat out of David Lemieux. Thanks to good promotion, Golovkin’s stock and profile gradually rose in his journey toward the Canelo fight, and he even fought a very good contender in Daniel Jacobs just before finally getting it. Their first fight came and went, thanks to one outrageous scorecard, in Canelo’s favor, that determined a draw, that wasn’t so outrageous after a close fight. Before, during and after, there was tremendous respect between the two but that has since changed. Some things don’t, however, as Golovkin decided to face Vanes Martirosyan, to try and salvage the Cinco De Mayo date, and, at the same venue where Golovkin-Rubio took place, an overmatched second round knockout was the result, in lieu of the big fight he really wanted.
There were repercussions for Golovkin fighting a relatively soft touch like Martirosyan, and seeking the Canelo fight again afterward. The IBF had a looming mandatory, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and the Ukrainian would’ve posed a much bigger threat than Martirosyan, and possibly compete in a great fight, considering his action style. Golovkin, of course, didn’t elect to face him and salvage the IBF title, rather than the date of a typical boxing holiday. Golovkin would eventually get stripped over the summer, thanks to the IBF being seemingly being the only one refusing to bend its rules or cater to the money makers. It was the first time Golovkin found himself in such a peculiar spot but it goes to show how easy one can find himself under the guise of a big money fight. Yet had Canelo not failed a drug test and caused the cancelation in the first place, none of this would’ve ever happened. Loeffler revealed there was a deal in place for Golovkin to go in a different direction during the presser.
“They had agreed to terms to fight August 25, over here in Los Angeles,” Loeffler said about making a fight with WBO middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders. “Everything was set with the Forum, with HBO and with all the sanctioning bodies. ‘Triple G’ could’ve fought an undefeated champion, added another title, the one title that was eluding him for so long. (Golden Boy Promotions President) Eric (Gomez) said he was going to go in the direction of Danny Jacobs. About an hour later, he called back, had one last proposal that satisfied what Gennady wanted and that’s why we’re here.”
Making the fight with Saunders wouldn’t have been as lucrative nor would it receive the same level of attention as a Canelo rematch. In a way, Golovkin could’ve punished Canelo by going in an entirely different direction, and keeping the Mexican star away from the biggest payday available. Instead, as Loeffler pointed out, Golovkin and Canelo are both expected to make more money in the rematch.
Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, has been perhaps the most outspoken member of Team GGG, and, in his conversation with UCNLive.com after the presser, he maintained that their strategy of seeking a great fight will be no different but the build-up will be.
“I think that the promotion this time, because all the things that have happened, and all the things that have been said, I think it’s going to be different,” Sanchez said. “I think that it’s going to be more intense. I think Canelo has voiced that he doesn’t want to be in the same room with Golovkin, and looking at each other in the face-off, which is kind of ridiculous. They don’t get paid until they get inside the ring, so they’re not being professional. I think that a professional camp, a professional organization, a professional fighter, understands what it takes to finally get inside that ring and to be able to put it out there for the fans. Not all the fans that need to know about this know about this right now, and the only way they’re are gonna know is if we promote it, and that’s how you promote.”
There will be separate episodes of “24/7” televised on HBO, in the build-up to the pay-per-view event on September 15, but when it came to the network offering to do an edition of “Face Off with Max Kellerman,” Alvarez declined. It’s safe to assume that Canelo and Golden Boy will have their own promotional events for the fight but the next time boxing fans get to see the two rivals go face-to-face will be during fight week. That leaves Sanchez and Golovkin alone in the high altitude of Big Bear, California, for the extent of their camp.
“It’s not that nothing would change. It’s that I’ve always trained my guys to be the best they can be,” Sanchez said, about the mindset and strategy going into the rematch. “If we can’t beat you with the best we can be, then we can’t beat you. I’m not gonna start adjusting. I want my guys to attack. My guys to do what we do, and (opponents are) gonna have to adjust to us. Obviously because of the first fight, we know some of the tactics that Canelo is going to employ, and we’re gonna work on some of those things but it’s nothing dramatically different. Because as soon as we start changing, then we’re not 100 percent.
“Training camp is probably at the beginning of July,” Sanchez continued. “Usually (Golovkin)’s in camp 10 weeks, and that’ll be about 11 weeks there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up way before that too. He is one of those gym rats. Actually right now, he’s asking me about my Russian kids. He’s excited to know about them. He’s excited to talk to them. He’s excited to watch them because he likes to develop them. He’s got a couple of kids that his promotional company promotes and they’re doing very well (Ruslan Madiev and Ali Akhmedov). I’m sure he’s anxious to get in there and see them. He’s been in Europe. He’s been in Kazakhstan. He’s been in Germany, so he hasn’t had a chance really to be in camp. Sometimes he drives up once a week just to see the guys but he hasn’t done that lately because he’s been very busy. Now that he got back, I’m sure he’s going to go back up there early.”
Leading up to September, everything outside the ropes has overshadowed their first affair, the past year, and that wouldn’t have necessarily been the case after an instant classic. Perhaps the rematch will be different, and maybe Golovkin hopes to punish Canelo a different way. Alvarez, 49-1-2 (34), has plenty, if not more, to prove in September, as well, in an effort to clear his name and put what has been a nightmarish year so far behind him. After an internal debate, THE RING Magazine finally stripped him of its middleweight title, in recent weeks, but it remains vacant and the belt wasn’t just handed over to Golovkin on this day. Instead its newly-crowned pound-for-pound champion isn’t even recognized as the champ of the class in which he fights. Again it doesn’t really matter but it goes to show that boxing will find a way to confuse or go against basic principles, if you hang around long enough.
Luckily the sport still has the one thing that separates itself from the rest, and that’s the opportunity to fight it out. All the drivel that comes with boxing becomes obliterated in the moments during and after a tremendous fight, which is what this tale has been missing all along.