Gennady Golovkin’s main focus during Saturday night’s rematch with Canelo Alvarez will be on his opponent, but part of him will be thinking about the judges.
Golovkin harbors distrust in the business side of boxing, and much of that is connected to two of the scorecards from his first fight against Alvarez.
Although respected veteran judge Dave Moretti awarded Golovkin a 115-113 score in that September 2017 bout, judge Adalaide Byrd turned in what has become perhaps the most notorious card of the generation, giving Alvarez 10 of the 12 rounds, and judge Don Trella went against both Moretti and Byrd by awarding Alvarez the seventh round in his 114-114 card to blemish Golovkin’s otherwise perfect record with a draw.
Asked his greatest regret over that bout, Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez said, “I wasn’t persistent enough in not allowing Adalaide Byrd to be a judge.”
The Nevada Athletic Commission sought to quell both Golovkin and the public’s doubts by assigning Moretti and veteran judges Glenn Feldman and Steve Weisfeld to score Saturday’s HBO pay-per-view, middleweight-title bout at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Even with that, Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 knockouts) expressed apprehension over allowing the outcome to be determined by any man other than himself.
“It’s a very interesting situation for me, them changing all the judges,” Golovkin told the Times recently. “This is better for boxing and I believe it’s better for fans. Still, I don’t believe in it 100 percent.”
Asked if he trusts the judges to score the bout fairly, Golovkin said, “No, because this is business. I believe that in my heart.”
While Feldman and Weisfeld previously worked three Golovkin bouts — Weisfeld gave Golovkin a 115-112 nod in last year’s competitive bout against Daniel Jacobs — Alvarez maintains he’s not considering the judging, or any conspiracy theory that this panel might favor Golovkin in any narrow rounds due to the criticized judging of the first fight.
“I don’t spend my time crying about the decisions that are made, the judges,” Alvarez said.
Sanchez said, “I believe we have three of the best judges going for this fight. We’ll get a fair decision. It hurts boxing more than it hurts us to continue to have judging the way it has been in Nevada.
“What I’d like to see is the judges judge the fight as they see it. If a guy’s trying to win the fight, then I think he should be given credit for it, and if a guy’s trying to survive a round, then I don’t think he should be given credit for that.
“The judges have to look at who’s pressing the fight, who’s throwing and landing punches and trying to make a fight out of it. It’s not a dance.”
Will Golovkin stick with HBO?
This marks the final fight in Golovkin’s deal with HBO. And with powerful new options emerging to broadcast and stream high-profile bouts, it will be compelling to see if he turns away from a network that is increasingly turning its back on boxing.
Six years after HBO helped launch his rise by televising Golovkin’s U.S. debut at Turning Stone Casino in New York, he felt HBO didn’t support his plan to fight a replacement opponent in May after Alvarez was suspended six months for submitting two positive drug tests.
Golovkin ultimately landed an HBO date on Cinco de Mayo at StubHub Center against Vanes Martirosyan, but his $1-million guarantee was 20 times less than what he’s expected to earn Saturday.
“We would’ve liked a bigger license fee,” Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler said.
HBO said it doesn’t comment on contracts, but noted that no other fighter has been on the network more since his September 2012 debut than Golovkin has with 14 appearances.
Golovkin has expressed interest in several opponents, including unbeaten Jermall Charlo, who’s tied to Premier Boxing Champions, which announced a deal with Fox last week to stage bouts on pay-per-view and network television, and also recently extended its union with Showtime.
Golovkin also is interested in meeting Japan’s World Boxing Assn. secondary middleweight champion Ryoto Murata, who is tied to Top Rank and ESPN.
“If Gennady wins [Saturday], he has a lot of options,” Loeffler said.
Lomachenko move to N.Y in talks
WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko was targeted by his promoter for a Dec. 1 title defense at the Forum against Puerto Rico’s new World Boxing Organization champion Jose Pedraza, but the bout might be shifted to Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden and televised by ESPN.
Moving the fight is expected to maximize viewership for Lomachenko, a three-division champion with pay-per-view aspirations. The Dec. 8 bout would be preceded by ESPN’s coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation.
“Coming out of the Heisman is a great showcase, and we want to make sure he’ll capitalize on it,” said Carl Moretti, an executive for Lomachenko promoter Top Rank.
A final decision is expected this week when Top Rank President Todd duBoef meets with ESPN officials in New York.