Hi, my name is Lance Pugmire, and welcome to our weekly boxing/MMA newsletter. This newsletter will be delivered right to your inbox every week if you sign up here. Let’s get right to the news.
Gennady Golovkin, who this weekend will watch his cherished third and final middleweight belt officially move to another fighter’s waist, at least can gain immediate comfort by the potential opportunity to regain some hardware.
While International Boxing Federation top-ranked contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko meets former World Boxing Assn. secondary champion Daniel Jacobs on Saturday at Madison Square Garden for the belt the IBF stripped Golovkin of earlier this year, Japan’s WBA secondary champion, Ryoto Murata, meets Rob Brant in Las Vegas.
The prospect of taking Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 knockouts) to Tokyo has long appealed to the fighter’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, who has a strong working relationship — particularly in the “SuperFly” series — with Murata’s Japan-based promoter, Akihiko Honda.
And if the favored Murata (14-1, 11 KOs) defeats Brant in the main event of an ESPN-Plus card that begins at 7:30 p.m. Pacific, Loeffler says Golovkin-Murata “would be an interesting fight, definitely. It would be exciting to go to Tokyo.”
Since Golovkin’s contract with HBO has expired and the network has said it’s leaving boxing, Loeffler said a Murata fight televised by ESPN is “most likely.”
Loeffler will attend Murata-Brant while Golovkin visits his native Kazakhstan this week. As Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez begins preparation for his Dec. 15 super-middleweight title fight after edging Golovkin by majority decision on Sept. 15, Loeffler said Golovkin feels as if he’s beyond his past obsession to wear all four middleweight belts.
“It’s not as much as about the hardware anymore with Gennady as it’s the matchup. Gennady is bigger than the titles now that so many in the media and the fans believe he should’ve kept his belts,” Loeffler said. “The support we’ve received is that he should still be a champion.”
At the recent World Boxing Council convention in the Ukraine, the sanctioning body “ordered” a Golovkin fight against unbeaten Jermall Charlo as a qualifier for Alvarez next year, but Charlo took another fight, and Loeffler said he believes Golovkin is free to pursue his next opponent without penalty.
Going to Tokyo would complement a heavily stamped fighting passport for Golovkin that already includes fights in Germany, Monte Carlo and Panama with sold-out bouts in London, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
“There’s some great options for Gennady, and a third fight against Canelo next year is still the richest one possible for both men,” Loeffler said.
Arum’s busy season
In addition to Murata-Brant, Top Rank veteran promoter Bob Arum has a Nov. 3 super-featherweight title fight in Texas between Miguel Berchelt and Micky Roman and a Nov. 16 junior-welterweight title show in Oklahoma City between 140-pound champion Maurice Hooker and Alex Saucedo.
In December, after his light-heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk pursues the WBC belt of Adonis Stevenson on Showtime, lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko heads a Dec. 8 ESPN card at Madison Square Garden’s theater followed by the Gilberto Ramirez-Jesse Hart super-middleweight title rematch in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Dec. 14.
A Carl Frampton-Josh Warrington Dec. 22 IBF-featherweight-title bout in Manchester, England, should move the winner to an early 2019 date against WBO champion Oscar Valdez, who’s aiming to return for his return bout from a broken jaw Jan. 12 in Mexico City, Arum said.
After that, Arum returns to Texas on Feb. 2 for an Eleider Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev light-heavyweight title-fight rematch at the Dallas Cowboys’ “The Star” training facility in Frisco.
Also promising: Arum said he’s monitoring talks to stage a super-flyweight unification between his champion Jerwin Ancajas and Honda’s top-five pound-for-pound WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Willing to negotiate
It’s that body of work that Arum said proves he’s willing to work with other promoters, and on the heels of his champion welterweight Terence Crawford remaining unbeaten with a 12th-round knockout of outmatched Jose Benavidez Jr., the challenge now is dealing with rival manager Al Haymon of Premier Boxing Champions.
“Crawford goes through any of the PBC welterweights,” meaning world champions Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter,” Arum said after Crawford underlined his drawing power with a 2018-best 1.8 television rating (nearly two million viewers) on ESPN. “He’s become confident, smart, cerebral — the whole package. Terence will fight in the first part of the year, and we want him in three fights total.”
Arum says he has the leverage to place Crawford against the unbeaten Eastern European welterweights in his stable, Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Alexander Besputin.
“But if Spence is ready to fight, we’ll make a deal tomorrow,” Arum said before expressing doubt Haymon will allow it because the PBC fighters “are going to lose.”
Arum said he’s in complete agreement with The Times’ suggestion to have both ESPN and either Showtime or Fox jointly carry the pay-per-view — as can happen between Mikey Garcia and Lomachenko, too.
“That’s not where Haymon is at,” Arum said. “He’d rather overpay his fighters, keep them to himself, have them fight once a year. … It’s a peculiar way to run a business.
“Nobody sees him, nobody talks to him. It is not normal. When was the last time you sat and talked to him? Never. What kind of craziness is this? You can’t equate it to doing business with a normal person.”
Until next time