LOS ANGELES, Calif., April 12, 2018 – Rumors flew, and clickbait headlines came and went over the last nine days since the cancellation announcement of the scheduled May 5 fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. Who would Golovkin face, and where?
Both Nevada and California State Athletic Commissions had their say; various venue names circulated. Finally on Thursday at a quickly announced lunchtime news conference after speculation raged about a possible confirmation of a bout for Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) with super welterweight boxer Vanes Martirosyan, the reality turned out to be surreal.
Flanked by Golovkin, his brother Max, and trainer Abel Sanchez, promoter Tom Loeffler announced — there was nothing he could announce. No opponent, no venue, and nothing in progress to confirm. Loeffler said nothing would be known until the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s meeting on April 18, when it will rule on terms of a suspension for Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez was to be Golovkin’s opponent in a much-anticipated rematch in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5.
Despite the belief Martirosyan was locked in, despite the news the Stub Hub Center was locked in, neither one turned out to be the case. It was a news conference called to announce no news.
“There’s a lot of moving parts, it’s all in the equation,” said Loeffler. “This isn’t just let’s work out a deal with the opponent and get in the ring. When you have a unified champion at the level of Triple G, everything has to come together.
“Triple G has always lived up to his mandatories. We’ve never been in this unique situation before where we don’t have a bout two months before. Everything is on a very condensed schedule. HBO hadn’t planned on a Triple G fight being on the network May 5. There are a lot of dynamics to this fight different than any other promotion.”
Mandatory challenger one of many sticking points in making a new match
Promoter Lou DiBella wasn’t happy about the rumors. He asked the IBF to order a mandatory defense by Golovkin against his number one contender, Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Via Twitter, DiBella commented, “There is NO provision for delaying a mandatory because a fight canceled due to a suspension for two failed drug tests. NONE. Nor should there be.”
When we reached out to DiBella asking if he would request the IBF strip Golovkin of his middleweight title for avoiding a mandatory defense, DiBella answered “Unequivocally, but I might not even have to ask the IBF USA Boxing,” indicating the sanctioning body might do so on its own.
“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,” responded Loeffler. “If we had proper time to promote, nobody does it better. When you can sell Madison Square Garden out twice, Dereyyanchenko would be a huge fight at MSG. So why would he want to shortchange the mandatory challenger and the champion? Derevyanchenko has gotten more publicity in the last 10 days than in his entire career being mentioned as the mandatory,” added Loeffler.
Loeffler said he is in touch with the sanctioning bodies to see what they can put together, but pledged he would follow the IBF’s and WBC’s rules. “Gennady is one of the few fighters who’s followed all the rules. We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation. We’re not taking anything away from Canelo’s performance. He made it a very close fight. But at the same time, he didn’t follow the rules. We thought Gennady clearly won the fight. The Canelo fight wasn’t as close as the Jacobs fight. When you look at Gennady’s career in total, it’s not like he hasn’t fought guys who weren’t competitive.”
Loeffler said he’s been in contact with promoter Lou DiBella, who works with Derevyanchenko. “If there’s a way to work it out for Triple G and their side, that’s the best solution.”
Frustration seeped out on occasion through the dam of polite responses to questions by Loeffler, and finally by Golovkin too, who blamed Alvarez for the mess. Golovkin said “He’s not a star, he’s not huge. He’s terrible.” Asked whether he felt bad for fans, Golovkin said, “For people who want him and me to fight, like you, absolutely. I feel comfortable. He lost. He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ I looked like this – come on, get out of here,” dismissing Alvarez with a wave of the hand.
Martirosyan has made no secret of his interest in the fight. He is currently training in Southern California and he could be ready. However, Martirosyan is not ranked at middleweight by any of the four major sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF).
Martirosyan, though well-liked in boxing circles and courageous to a fault, is no Canelo Alvarez. Before being considered, fights fell through with potential opponents Jaime Munguia of Mexico (too inexperienced) and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (a Golden Boy stablemate of Alvarez). A unification fight with WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders of Great Britain runs up against his scheduled fight with Martin Murray in June.
New May 5 fight must be secured by April 18
Loeffler said venues in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and even Madison Square Garden are still in play. Meantime, “Gennady’s actually doing his job. He’s training, he’s promoting his career, he’s doing everything he can do to stay active. It’s unfortunate when you have fights like this, the fallout is not under our control. We’re appreciative of the fans and the partners and all the support we’re getting.”
Loeffler said Golovkin continues to train, and weighed in at 166 pounds at his 30-day weigh-in. His next bout will be his 20th title defense, tying Bernard Hopkins for the division record. “He’s creating history every time he steps in the ring,” said Loeffler.
Trainer Abel Sanchez said Golovkin continues to train as if a fight is secured for May 5, with no change in his approach. “It hasn’t had a bearing on it (training). He’s a professional; he trains harder and harder every day. We didn’t know what was going to happen. We will train until someone tells us something different.”
“Tom said it all,” added Golovkin. “I’m still in Big Bear, at training camp, working hard every day. I feel great. I’m ready to give you a fight, I told Tom, ‘Please, give me a fight.’ It’s a crazy situation for boxing. Everyone knows my style. Cinco De Mayo, a huge day and no fight? It’s terrible.”
At this point, the boxing world remains in wait and see mode. “We’re trying to right that injustice with Canelo right now, and now Gennady is the one sitting here, one of the greatest ambassadors to the sport of boxing … That’s why I’m doing everything I can to get him in the ring May 5,” Loeffler said.
Loeffler said the drop-dead date for a deal is April 18. “At some point, we’re going to run out of time … When we finally have something finalized, we will announce it. You can see Gennady is in tremendous shape. He just wants to fight,” Loeffler said.
Ringside Seat’s commentary on the Golovkin situation
Our commentary: At this point, the only reason Golovkin and Loeffler need Canelo is for the money. Boxing is their business, and people are in business to make money. Missing a big payday in a profession where you have a short shelf life is a disaster. But if Golvokin can do without it, his legacy rests in unifying all four middleweight titles. This road leads to Billy Joe Saunders.
Rather than an aborted promotion at a small venue with the risk of injury or loss, far better now to forget about May 5, forget about Canelo in 2018, and work toward a more productive schedule for the rest of this year leading to a unification fight. If it takes an IBF mandatory defense in New York against Sergiy Derevyanchenko first, schedule it this summer. Then make GGG vs. BJS happen in the fall. Golovkin can then decide whether to fight Alvarez, or move up to super middleweight and see what awaits him there.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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