With a top prize fight taking place in Las Vegas on Saturday night, boxing fans all over the world are clamoring for a mega-fight between star middleweights Canelo Alvarez and Gennady "GGG" Golovkin. Anticipation has been building for several months, but Golden Boy Promotions has shown increasing resistance to preventing the bout from taking place this year.
When Alvarez puts his middleweight title on the line against Amir Khan at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night, it should be his final bout before a championship unification fight against Golovkin. Holding two major middleweight belts, Golovkin is the mandatory challenger to Alvarez and his WBO title. But even though Alvarez is a heavy favorite and expected to defeat Khan with Golovkin watching ringside, it’s looking more and more like Alvarez vs. Golovkin won’t be happening anytime soon because of Alvarez's camp.
First it was Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, who said it might be best to wait before making the fight happen this year. Alvarez has insisted he’s not afraid of anyone, but he intimated that Golovkin has not yet earned a fight with Alvarez because of the competition he’s faced. Now, Bernard Hopkins, a minority partner with Golden Boy, says Golovkin should instead face light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.
Oscar: "Let it marinate."
Hopkins: "Fight Kovalev first."
Canelo: "Earn [your] shot," as if being the unified champ wasn't enough
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) May 5, 2016
After defeating Miguel Cotto in November, Alvarez signed a contract to face Golovkin later this year. But that doesn’t mean the fight will happen, and he’ll be stripped of his WBC middleweight title if a unification bout isn’t made.
"There's an agreement between 'GGG' and Canelo. They reached an agreement to do one fight [each] and then we will enforce the agreement and the rules," WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
Alvarez and Golden Boy haven’t been short on reasons to put off a fight with Golovkin. Fighting his fifth straight bout at 155 pounds, Alvarez often notes that he doesn’t want to face Golovkin at 160 pounds, even though he holds the 160-pound middleweight belt.
Never one to shy away from top competition, Alvarez has remain steadfast that he hopes to fight Golovkin. But Alvarez and De La Hoya know there’s a good chance he could lose to the hard-hitting Kazakh, and they might not be ready to risk a defeat just yet. Alvarez is the biggest draw in boxing with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao out of the picture, and his stock would take a hit if he was knocked out by Golovkin. The last time an opponent went the distance with Golovkin was in June 2008, in a bout that went eight rounds.
Premature betting odds indicate that Golovkin would be a heavy favorite over Alvarez. David Lemieux, who’ll face Glen Tapia on the undercard of Alvarez vs. Khan, gives the edge to Golovkin, as well.
“I’m not a matchmaker, but I think Golovkin is a very good fighter. I think he’s a little superior to Canelo,” Lemieux, who suffered an eighth-round TKO against Golovkin in October, told International Business Times in April.
Golovkin last fought on April 23, needing less than two full rounds to knock down the overmatched Dominic Wade three times and win by knockout. He’s been unable to secure a bout with the sport’s top fighters, namely Alvarez and Cotto.
“It doesn’t matter who wins,” Golovkin told HBO’s Max Kellerman, referring to Alvarez and Khan. “Just give me my belt. I need my belt.”
Kellerman likened Golovkin’s current run to what Mike Tyson did in the late 1980’s, and the middleweight champ might be the closest thing to Tyson in the last 25 years. Golovkin continues to dominate everyone that’s willing to step in the ring with him, knocking out 22 straight opponents. But he’s yet to prove he’s a big pay-per-view draw, making it easy for top boxers to pass on a fight they know could very well end with them on the canvas.
Golovkin featured in his first PPV main event when he took on Lemieux, generating 150,000 buys. Alvarez vs. Cotto did 900,000 buys the following month, and Saturday’s fight is expected to do big numbers, as well.
“Canelo, he’s the man, the pay-per-view superstar, and he is a junior-middleweight, not a true middleweight,” said Curtis Stevens, who was knocked out by Golovkin in 2013 and faces Patrick Teixeira on Saturday’s undercard, via the Los Angeles Times. “Canelo makes the rules in this case. It’ll be a good fight if it happens.”
If Alvarez and Golovkin keep winning in impressive fashion, a showdown would be inevitable. De La Hoya has admitted that it’s a question of "when rather than if," and he recently said he’d contact Golovkin’s camp following a win for Alvarez on Saturday. But fans might have to wait until at least Cinco de Mayo weekend 2017 before seeing the mega-fight.
After fighting Khan, Alvarez will likely headline another PPV in September. He could face a returning Pacquiao, or potentially have a rematch with Cotto.