Three Takeaways: Welcome Back, Big Drama Show
By Jonah Dylan
It was a weird boxing weekend. The biggest event was a non-title fight, and most of us were still getting over the shock of a week earlier, when Andy Ruiz upset Anthony Joshua to win three heavyweight titles. Still, we had the long-awaited return of GGG and a title defense from Oscar Valdez, so let’s jump right into the three takeaways from the weekend.
1. GGG may be 37, but there’s no doubt he’s one of the best fighters in the world
Listen, beating Steve Rolls is not particularly impressive. Even doing it the way Gennadiy Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) did isn’t particularly newsworthy, given that he pretty much did exactly what we’d expect. The chopping left hand he hurt Rolls (19-1, 10 KOs) with in the fourth round was a thing of beauty, and he finished him with a devastating shot that served as a kind of throwback to the guy that demolished everything in front of him during his remarkable 23-fight knockout streak. That he did it from the southpaw stance was all the more impressive.
Coming into the Rolls fight, three of Golovkin’s last four fights had gone the distance, but he’s either been fighting top-level competition (Danny Jacobs, Canelo Alvarez twice) or low-level foes (Vanes Martirosyan, Rolls), so it’s hard to really get a sense of where he’s at. This is a problem that will forever cloud his legacy, especially because he still doesn’t have a win against Canelo (for the record, the first fight wasn’t close, and I the second fight for him as well).
But alas, this is not the time to get into GGG’s legacy or his past fights. The guy is still at the top of the sport, and he has huge fights ahead of him. We don’t need to look back quite yet.
2. GGG-Canelo is the fight, and there’s only one person to blame if it doesn’t happen
After the fight, GGG didn’t try to play games, and he didn’t even call anyone out besides Canelo. That’s the fight to make in the middleweight division, and to be completely honest, it’s the fight to make in all of boxing. Joshua’s loss threw a wrench into Joshua-Wilder as the biggest fight in boxing, and Terence Crawford-Errol Spence is light years away from being a reality. Golovkin and Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) are both with DAZN and they’re both ready to fight in September. This shouldn’t be difficult.
Golden Boy seems to want to make it difficult, though. They’ve been throwing out Callum Smith’s name a lot, and he obviously wants the right for good reason (I looked at Smith’s problem in this spot last week). But it doesn’t make sense for anyone else. DAZN is paying a ton of money to both Alvarez and Golovkin, and they did it specifically for them to fight in September. Why else would Golovkin have made close to $15 million to fight a guy most boxing fans had never heard of?
So if the fight doesn’t happen, it’s 100% on Alvarez. Golovkin has pushed him further than anyone this side of Floyd Mayweather, and the idea that fans aren’t interested in seeing them fight again is ridiculous. There’s unfinished business, and there’s more money in that fight than any other fight for either Alvarez or Golvkin. It’s not even about who needs who. It just makes sense. If they aren’t standing across from each other on September 14, it’s because Alvarez didn’t want the fight.
The idea that Alvarez wouldn’t fight Golovkin without a belt is laughable, because Golovkin fought Alvarez twice as a unified champion when Alvarez didn’t have a belt (he vacated it to avoid fighting Golovkin earlier). Someone should remind Golden Boy of that.
3. Oscar Valdez has had his comeback fights, and now it’s time for bigger things
Sure, Oscar Valdez more than deserved a couple tune up fights after he broke his jaw against a much bigger Scott Quigg in March 2018. He knocked out Carmine Tommasone (19-1, 5 KOs) in February and then outpointed Jason Sanchez (14-1, 7 KOs) on Saturday. Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs) is certainly near the top of the featherweight division, and he’d be favored against almost anyone. So let’s get some of those fights.
The featherweight landscape looks like this: Top Rank has WBO titlist Valdez and a deal with IBF titlist Josh Warrington, while WBA titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs) is with PBC and WBC titleholder Gary Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) has been with PBC but says he’s a free agent and was last seen meeting with Eddie Hearn. So it’s safe to say Valdez’ next fight likely won’t be against either Santa Cruz or Russell.
Top Rank seems to be grooming former two-division titlist Carl Frampton for a shot at Valdez, but can we take a second and ask why? Frampton (26-2, 15 KOs) is still a very good fighter, but he’s coming off a clear loss to Warrington. Since when does losing a fight earn you an immediate title shot against a different opponent? Frampton is returning for a comeback fight before a likely matchup with Valdez at the end of the year, but I don’t really get it.
Assuming Warrington (28-0, 6 KOs) gets past Kid Galahad (26-0, 15 KOs) on June 15, I’d like to see him and Valdez in a unification. That bout would pit two undefeated world titleholders – each with very unique and distinct styles – against each other in a true 50-50 fight. If we can’t get that – and there’s really no reason why we can’t, unless Galahad beats Warrington – I’d be interested to see Valdez against Shakur Stevenson (11-0, 6 KOs), who’s passed every test thrown at him with flying colors. It might be early for him to get a title shot, but he’d definitely want the fight, and we’d learn a lot about both guys. Regardless, Valdez needs to be fighting a top-level opponent next, especially because he’s planning to move up to junior lightweight in the very near future.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan.