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Gennady Golovkin and the Scramble to Find an Opponent

By: Kirk Jackson

Middleweight champion Gennady ‘Triple G’ Golovkin 37-0-1 (33 KO’s) is stuck between a rock and a hard place; with the recent dilemma stemming from ‘PED fallout’ with his original proposed opponent for Cinco de Mayo weekend, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 49-1-2 (34 KO’s).

With Alvarez dropping out of the original scheduled rematch – due to two failed drug tests (Clenbuterol), Golovkin is left without a dance partner.

There are discussions of the proposed rematch to occur at a later date; September later this year or at some point next year, depending on the results from Alvarez’s hearing and length of suspension handed out from Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Amid the Alvarez scandal, Team Golovkin’s stance remains firm in regards to still fighting Cinco de Mayo Weekend.

In spite of multiple attempts from Team Golovkin, his promoter Tom Loeffler, the HBO network and those responsible for the opponent selection of Triple G, securing a fight is hard to come by.

The date is still intact although the location of venue changed from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to the Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA.

“All the venues have told us that they are going to keep the date as long as we feel it’s still possible to promote a show,” explained Loeffler. “HBO to their credit, they originally had a pay-per-view scheduled on May 5th, they’ve adjusted their schedule to accommodate ‘Triple G’ which is not easy to do with less than 30 days.”

One would think, if the original opponent is not available, surely Golovkin can satisfy one of the mandatories for one of the championship titles he covets – as he has done ever so often in the past right? Golovkin is the current WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight champion.

Sergiy Derevyanchenko 12-0 (10 KO’s) is an interesting contender and the mandatory challenger for the IBF title.

According to Derevyanchenko’s manager Keith Connolly, as reported via ESPN, Team Derevyanchenko is calling for the fight with Golovkin.

“Now that Canelo-Golovkin has been called off the IBF mandatory is due. Sergiy has worked his whole life to earn a mandatory position and I will be doing everything in my power from a legal standpoint to protect my client’s rights.”

“I feel very comfortable in our legal position that we are owed the title shot immediately. Sergiy is ready to fight Golovkin now. If he chooses not to fight us the IBF should strip him and we will fight whoever is next in the rankings for the title.”

It looks less likely we’ll see this match-up May 5th as Team Golovkin appears not as interested in booking that particular fight at this time.

It appears Derevyanchenko and former junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade 25-0 (16 KO’s) may duel for the rights to the IBF title in near future.

Andrade is another fighter vying for position to face Golovkin and called out the Kazakhstani champion for many years now.

Taking on someone with the talent of Andrade on short-notice is a tall order, but Andrade would be facing the same inconvenience. It can be argued Andrade is not fully acclimated to the middleweight division with only one fight under his belt at the weight class.

But if Golovkin is regarded by ESPN as the no.1 pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, shouldn’t we hold that fighter to the highest of standards?

Golovkin needs an opponent and Andrade is willing to fill the void.

Team Golovkin is smart with their match-making, so it’s understandable taking another route.

The other routes included Spike O’Sullivan, who wisely declined the fight, WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders 26-0 (12 KO’s) recovering from injury and Jaime Munguia, an inexperienced junior middleweight.

While Munguia 28-0 (24 KO’s) maintains an undefeated record, the 21-year-old prospect hasn’t fought anyone even close to the level of Golovkin and hasn’t even been in a scheduled 12-rounder to this point in his career.

He is a naturally smaller fighter in a lower division (154 lbs.) and this brand of match-making is the epitome of a cherry pick.

But what about facing Jermall Charlo 26-0 (20 KO’s)?

Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez mentioned many times in the past, his disapproval of matching his prized pupil against the likes of former junior middleweight titlist and current no. 1 WBC middleweight contender Charlo.

“He (Charlo) knocked out a cripple, Sanchez said of Charlo stopping Heiland.

“I think he has to earn the right to fight Golovkin. Just like a guy like Keith Thurman is telling Spence he has to wait to fight because he’s not known. I think these guys have to earn a shot to fight someone like Golovkin or Canelo. Reason they want to fight Golovkin or Canelo is because they want to cash out.”
Sanchez continued, “They want a big purse. Golovkin was no. 1 rated for Felix Sturm for two years and then Martinez.”

“Then we were mandatory for Cotto and even for Canelo it took a while. You have to make sure the people want the fight. Can you imagine what Charlo would do in sales? He wouldn’t sell nothing. I think we like to make title fights but obviously you have to earn them and he hasn’t earned it.”

With that said, there are flaws with Sanchez’s argument points.

It can be argued Golovkin is essentially doing the same thing accused of other fighters as they were supposedly “ducking” him for all these years.

Using money as the sole justification to explain why Sanchez doesn’t want Golovkin sharing the ring with Charlo is precisely the same justification previously cited by the big name middleweights (Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, Alvarez) and even welterweights (Floyd Mayweather) as their reasons for not agreeing to fight Golovkin, which led to them subsequently being accused of “ducking” by Team Golovkin, his fan-base and mass media outlets such as ESPN and HBO particularly.

If Team Golovkin’s actions are the same as those who were accused of “ducking” Golovkin, does that mean Golovkin is “ducking” Charlo?

And while we’re on the subject of ducking and fighting mandatories, something Team Golovkin is keen to doing in years past, why not face one of his mandatories now?
Is it that Team Golovkin is still trying to preserve the big money fight with Alvarez? And by preserving the lucrative fight with Alvarez, does this include taking the road involving the least amount of risk?

Another note on the Charlo situation and referring to lack of quality wins to earn a shot at Golovkin, it’s not like Golovkin ran through a murderer’s row of opposition prior to securing his big money fight against Alvarez last year.

No disrespect intended, but Dominic Wade, Willie Monroe Jr., Osumanu Adama, Nobuhiro Ishida, Gabriel Rosado, Makoto Fuchigami, Lajuan Simon, Kassim Ouma, Nilson Julio Tapia, Milton Nunez, Marco Antonio Rubio, David Lemieux are not exactly tier one opposition.

Lemieux eventually became world champion, fighting for a vacant WBC title – in which he eventually lost to Golovkin via his first title defense.

It may be disputed, Triple G’s first run at tier one opposition occurred when he faced the undefeated welterweight champion Kell Brook, followed by battles against WBA champion Daniel Jacobs and Alvarez.

Brook moved up two weight classes for their encounter – an encounter that transpired last minute due to the negotiation issues between Golovkin and Chris Eubanks and Brook and Jessie Vargas.

These battles against top opposition, transpiring with Golovkin approaching his mid-thirties. Point being, Charlo has a legitimate claim to call for and pursue a fight with Golovkin.

Time is running out and options are slim for the fight still scheduled for May 5th.

One of the last options appears to be Vanes Martirosyan 36-3-1 (21 KO’s) and by all accounts appears to be a good match-up according to Triple G’s promoter Loeffler.

Martirosyan turns 33 on May 1st, hasn’t fought in two years, his last fight was a loss to Erislandy Lara – another fighter having called Golovkin out for many years.

Martirosyan is not a top-ranked fighter in the middleweight division or in the division he last competed in – junior middleweight.

Golovkin can’t be blamed for the folly of Alvarez; failing two drug tests and jeopardizing not only the initial scheduled rematch for May 5th but any future potential fight between the two.

Golovkin should be applauded for conducting himself as a clean athlete and preparing himself for battle physically and mentally in spite of the ‘PED scandal’ with Alvarez.

However, lining up an easy fight when there are logical, suitable match-ups available, especially as Golovkin is marketed as ‘Boxing’s Boogeyman’ and is regarded by ESPN as the no.1 pound-for-pound fighter is inexcusable.

With less than four weeks to go, perhaps it’s a wise idea to call the fight off altogether because of the lack of securing a top opponent for Triple G.

At this point and it appeared as so last year, Golovkin was aiming to secure a large payday, along with his signature win before riding off into the sunset against Alvarez.

Golovkin secured a nice payday, but not the signature win he wanted.

These recent attempts with match-making expose that sentiment, as it appears Team Golovkin is not trying to travel the road with much resistance.

As a world class fighter, as a person risking his life every time he steps in the ring, he has the right to choose who he wants to fight, nothing wrong with that.

But with that said, he should held to the same standard other fighters are often criticized for.

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