Gennady Golovkin's latest delivery of a knockout punch has lifted him to a place of boxing prominence that can't be denied.
Whether it can be avoided, however, is a matter now handed to Mexico's Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya.
"It's obvious who the pound-for-pound No. 1 is," Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez said after the unbeaten two-belt middleweight champion knocked out No. 1 International Boxing Federation title contender Dominic Wade with 23 seconds remaining in the second round Saturday at the Forum.
"I don't think there's any fighter in any era who's dominated his division at a championship-level like Gennady. He makes good fighters look amateurish."
Doing so with a national television audience and a sellout 16,353 watching at the Forum, Golovkin effectively turned the attention to the 25-year-old Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 knockouts). Alvarez makes the first defense of his World Boxing Council middleweight belt May 7 against England's Amir Khan at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
If the favored Alvarez wins, he'll have 15 days to begin negotiations with mandatory challenger Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) or the belt will be stripped and given to Golovkin as part of a mandate signed by both fighters' promoters and WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman.
Asked if the Mexico-based sanctioning body has the stomach to strip the country's best-known fighter, Sulaiman said, "Let's see what happens. Phase 1 is finished. Phase 2, let's see. [Golovkin] is very powerful, like a pit bull, and [a bout against Alvarez] is a fight that everybody wants to see.
"That's a fact. I've read it. I hear it. I think 'Canelo' looked great beating Miguel Cotto [in November]. 'Triple-G' looked great tonight. This is the time to make a great fight."
In winning his 16th consecutive World Boxing Assn. middleweight belt, Golovkin posted his 22nd consecutive knockout. He dropped Washington's Wade (18-1) once in the first round, then again earlier in the second before planting him for good with a power punch to the jaw.
Golovkin's showing unmistakably boosted his worldwide stock. But could it further dissuade the popular Alvarez, who'll fight Khan at a 155-pound catchweight, and is angling for not only a deserved greater purse than Golovkin, but a catchweight limit below 160 pounds.
That'll be a heated point of negotiation. Sanchez said Golovkin will "never" agree to such a drop even if he stands to collect the biggest purse of his life against a fighter who's already produced the third-most lucrative bout in history with his 2013 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"Why does he want to give in to a diva, to somebody who's trying to change boxing?" Sanchez asked. "We have 17 divisions already … 155 pounds is not a division.
"It's the principle of the thing. [Golovkin] won't come down one ounce. It's the 160-pound belt and that's what he's going to fight at. If [Alvarez] won't, then he can leave the belt."
Eric Gomez, president of Alvarez's promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, told The Times on Sunday in text messages that "Team Golovkin is asking 'Canelo' to move up to another weight class to face him, yet they didn't accept moving up one weight class to face [former super-middleweight champion] Andre Ward.
"We are fully engaged and concentrated on May 7. If [Alvarez] is successful, we will then sit down as a team and discuss all options."
Gomez was reminded his Twitter handle is "makeawar," a tribute to his matchmaking mentor from the old Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, Don "War A Week" Chargin.
"And don't I always deliver?" Gomez responded. "Let's wait and see what happens May 7."
Beyond his destruction of Wade to prove the quality of such a pending showdown, Golovkin, 34, could likely require the involvement of power brokers at HBO, major sponsor Tecate and an interested venue host like Cowboys Stadium's Jerry Jones to convince Alvarez and De La Hoya to take the fight.
"Absolutely. Everybody feels the same, and I think it'll make [Team Alvarez] feel pressured," Golovkin said. "I'm ready to fight him. I don't think Golden Boy is ready."
Golovkin said he'll attend Alvarez's fight in person, but won't make a WWE-like postfight scene in calling him out. "Not my style. He knows. Everybody knows."
Sanchez blamed De La Hoya for not expressing more immediate enthusiasm. Yes, the fight could develop into a bigger seller with the passage of time if Alvarez balks until next year and leaves Golovkin to take an interim late-summer fight and perhaps a fall date with unbeaten super-middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez of Mexico.
The danger, as seen in the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout, is that a letdown after a long wait hurts the sport.
"I don't think 'Canelo' is scared. He's a warrior," Sanchez said. "But the business of boxing today supersedes anything … it's Oscar.
"As a Mexican, [knowing] the history of Mexican boxing, they expect something from their hero. They expect something from 'Canelo.' If he doesn't deliver, there'll be repercussions. They'll turn on him … and he'll pay for it one way or another."
Also Saturday, unbeaten WBC flyweight world champion Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez defended his belt with a unanimous-decision victory over Puerto Rico's McWilliams Arroyo and could earn his own main event at the Forum later this year in a rematch against Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada.