Gennady Golovkin understands he is putting at risk the largest payday of his boxing career. He also doesn’t care.
“This is a sport to Gennady,” said Abel Sanchez, who trains the 36-year-old middleweight champion in Big Bear. “Sport is more important than anything else.”
After Mexico’s popular former champion Canelo Alvarez was slapped with a six-month suspension last month for submitting two positive samples for the banned performance-enhancing substance Clenbuterol in February, Golovkin could have been tempted to wait for a September rematch of last year’s draw.
While a tense negotiation remains, Golovkin’s purse in a rematch is expected to near a career-best $30 million once pay-per-view buys are calculated.
Instead, Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 knockouts) opted to fight Saturday against Glendale’s Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs). Martirosyan is the No. 1-ranked junior-middleweight contender, according to the World Boxing Council, but hasn’t fought in nearly two years due to promotional difficulties.
When the California State Athletic Commission releases Golovkin’s purse Friday, the figure is expected to be less than $2 million.
“I did not want to waste time,” Golovkin explained. “I want to have as many fights as possible. I didn’t think about the business side.
“Maybe you should change your frame of mind in thinking about money. Money is not the most important thing. When I was told the first opponent would not be fighting, I was in my training camp. I like this sport. I want to be active.”
Loeffler said he was never as stressed as he was over the last few weeks in trying to find an opponent, a venue and a network that would televise the fight in such a condensed time frame.
Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya has speculated that his Friday ESPN2 card featuring 19-year-old Ryan Garcia will outdraw Golovkin-Martirosyan.
“This is not an easy fight,” Golovkin said of his bout. “This is the biggest day for boxing. We’ll have a big fight. Thank you to those who support us.”
Golovkin will seek an important milestone Saturday. By winning, he would match former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20 consecutive middleweight title fights without a loss.
Yet, the International Boxing Federation will not sanction the bout because Golovkin is not facing IBF mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
Loeffler is left to negotiate with the IBF and Derevyanchenko to avoid being stripped of the belt for not fighting the Russian by Aug. 3.
“You can’t make everything work sometimes,” Loeffler said. “Gennady’s dream has been to be undisputed champion, but with all the boxing politics, as hard as you try, sometimes it’s not possible.”
This would be boxing at its most illogical, stripping a belt from a longtime unbeaten champion who pushed to keep a high-profile fight card on Cinco de Mayo and has long sought to become a unified champion.
Golovkin, still irked by the judging in his draw with Alvarez, has railed at the “business” of boxing since the decision was rendered.
“Initially, it was my idea to unite all these belts,” Golovkin said. “I understand that’s very hard now. We’ll choose what’s best for us.”
Main event: Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) vs. Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) for Golovkin’s World Boxing Council and World Boxing Assn. middleweight belts
Where: StubHub Center
When: Televised portion begins at 8 p.m. Pacific, first bout at 4:45 p.m.
Tickets: $50, $100, $200, $300, $500, $700
Undercard: Cecilia Braekhus (32-0, 9 KOs) vs. Kali Reis (13-6-1, four KOs) for Braekhus’ four women’s welterweight belts; Ryan Martin (21-0, 12 KOs) vs. Breidis Prescott (31-12, 22 KOs), welterweights
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire