Gennady Golovkin’s ‘dream’ matchup becomes a reality

Canelo Alvarez celebrates with his team after defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by unanimous decision.
(John Locher / Associated Press)
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Gennady Golovkin last week watched the ink of his pen roll as he was applying his signature on the contract to fight Canelo Alvarez.

The coal miner’s son from Kazakhstan who fought in seven countries as he labored to build his profile in the U.S. set down his pen and thought deeply to himself about the relief of finally participating in a boxing match that will have the world’s attention on Sept. 16.

“Yes!” Golovkin said.

Saturday night — in a dramatic scene inside the same T-Mobile Arena ring where 26-year-old Alvarez spent 12 rounds exhibiting why he’s ready for unbeaten, three-belt middleweight champion Golovkin — the pair shook hands on the deal.


Golovkin, 35, told the Los Angeles Times in an exclusive interview Sunday morning at Mandalay Bay’s penthouse lounge that he was at first hesitant to leave his Santa Monica home to attend Alvarez’s one-sided unanimous-decision victory over Mexican countryman and former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

“I watch boxing closely. I knew Canelo was going to beat Chavez easy, and I thought he was going to get up there after what he did last year and make another scene, say something like, ‘I did this to Chavez, and I’ll do the same thing to you, Triple-G, ’ ” Golovkin said.

Instead, after Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 knockouts) won 120-108 on all three judges’ scorecards, he announced, “GGG, you are next, my friend.” A video tribute for Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) rolled on the arena’s big screens as the middleweight champion strode to the ring in a new suit from a Rodeo Drive clothier, bathed in cheers.

“I saw the screen, looked around at the atmosphere … I thought, ‘Wow!’ This is my dream,” Golovkin said. “Amazing moment. Everybody wants this fight. Not just me and him. Boxing needs this fight.”

A year earlier, Alvarez, after knocking out Amir Khan, summoned Golovkin to the same ring and vowed to fight him, then days later followed a well-worn path of other champions by avoiding Golovkin and losing his World Boxing Council middleweight belt instead of setting a date.

The delay was orchestrated by Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya. Alvarez followed with a knockout of junior-middleweight champion Liam Smith before 51,000 fans at Texas’ AT&T Stadium in September.


By March, when Golovkin saw his 23-fight knockout streak end in a tightly contested 18th consecutive successful middleweight title defense against Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs at Madison Square Garden, De La Hoya had clearly seen enough to sign off on the superfight.

“It was not about Jacobs. It was about understanding who the ‘A’ side is, who the star is,” De La Hoya said. “The Triple-G side understood the numbers and the facts.”

In a move that would be under far greater criticism if not for the announcement of a Golovkin fight that should likely be competitive and action-packed, De La Hoya hawked Chavez Jr. as a worthy opponent to a sellout crowd of 20,510 at the arena and perhaps one million more who made $59.95 pay-per-view orders.

“I really thought Chavez was going to come with more,” De La Hoya said. “How can a fighter who’s bigger and heavier than you be pushed around by the smaller fighter? I didn’t understand that. He had a chance to hit Canelo on the ropes and he didn’t. Unfortunately, Chavez did a terrible job.”

De La Hoya’s assuredness in Alvarez, to finalize the Golovkin fight before the Chavez bout, was rewarded by Alvarez battering the heavier Chavez, 228-71 in punches landed and 83-15 in jabs in the 164.5-pound catch-weight bout.

“This chapter is over,” Alvarez told The Times while emerging from his dressing room late Saturday night. “I had an opponent that had a lot more weight than me, but I proved I’m versatile. I can do many things, not just knock people out.


“I said it once and I’ll say it again: The era of Canelo is now. What that means is I’m willing to fight the best, give the fans the best fights always. And that’s what I’m doing.”

AT&T Stadium, with a capacity in excess of 100,000, will compete with expected bidders T-Mobile Arena and New York’s Madison Square Garden as the bout’s venue.

De La Hoya said he was somewhat surprised by the ease in which Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler agreed to terms on a contract that was signed by both fighters last week. Loeffler credited HBO executive Peter Nelson for helping to broker the deal.

“It’s a huge opportunity for Gennady to finally be involved in a fight like this,” Loeffler said without revealing terms. “The [financial] pie is so big, it wouldn’t make sense not to do it.”

Alvarez has agreed to fight for Golovkin’s World Boxing Assn. and International Boxing Federation belts, but he’s angry at WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman for stripping that belt and hasn’t yet signed off to contend for that strap.

De La Hoya said he expects Alvarez-Golovkin to be the best-selling pay-per-view since the disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight drew 4.6 million buys.


“The difference is, this fight is going to have a lot of action, nonstop action,” said De La Hoya, who’s calling the bout “Bombs Away.”

“I definitely believe I can do much more with Golovkin than I did with Chavez, a lot better,” Alvarez said.

Golovkin countered by identifying Alvarez’s inability to finish Chavez as a point of distinction between the fighters.

“[Saturday] was a little boring, like sparring. Canelo doesn’t want [to finish],” Golovkin said. “That’s not good for the people. A lot of people bought tickets and the pay-per-view. For what? For a show. Everybody likes drama, like my knockouts. If I see I can beat them, I do.”

Twitter: @latimespugmire