If it weren’t already apparent by his 23-fight knockout streak and his record-tying run of middleweight-title victories, there’s a cold hardness to Gennady Golovkin’s mannerisms.
So when Canelo Alvarez’s team asked Golovkin to further reduce the 45-percent purse cut he’d already agreed to — and to do it by a specific deadline — the icy denial could be felt from the Moscow phone conversation the unbeaten champion hung up from last week.
“I agreed to do 45 because I thought this is exactly how much I was worth,” Golovkin told reporters in Los Angeles Monday in his first public comments since his Sept. 15 showdown with Mexico’s popular former two-division champion was finalized last week.
“And they just confirmed exactly how much it was worth. They knew that.”
Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, and trainer, Abel Sanchez, revealed Golovkin had a backup deal to fight World Boxing Organization middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders Aug. 25 at the Forum.
“We had four to five meetings when Gennady was in Russia and he was adamant, ‘What happens, happens. This [45 percent] is what it’s going to be and, if not, we have another fighter,’” Sanchez said. “He wasn’t concerned that last hour [beyond Alvarez’s deadline]. It is what it is. We’ll go fight somebody else.”
Instead, Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 knockouts) has Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) for an HBO pay-per-view date at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, a rematch of their controversial September draw. The rematch was postponed until September after Alvarez tested positive twice for the banned performance-enhancing substance clenbuterol.
“The gloves are off for this promotion,” Loeffler said, referring to the insults hurled between the camps during the last couple of months.
The toxicity between the fighters, who generated a $27 million live gate and 1.3 million pay-per-view buys in their first bout, is so great that Alvarez’s camp has expressed disinterest in participating in either a joint fight-announcement news conference or HBO’s “Face-off” conversation with Golovkin.
“I think he cannot look into my eyes because he knows I’m correct,” Golovkin said in a reference to his past allegations that Alvarez intended to cheat by taking clenbuterol, which builds stamina and endurance, following their first 12-round fight.
Sanchez said Alvarez is “robbing the fans” by depriving them of a ticket-announcement stare-down at a news conference like they did together at L.A. Live before the scrapped rematch.
“Many fans, especially the Latins and bettors, look at the guys together and say, ‘You see how that one’s flinching, how he’s scared?’ Certain fans want to see that, and it robs them of that opportunity to see that … just because Canelo’s still acting like a diva and saying, ‘I’m bigger than that … .’”
Golovkin grinned when asked if the bickering between the two sides was over.
“Now, we have a real fight,” he said. “I’m always motivated because I am the champion. It is him who has to be motivated, because he needs to prove himself.”
The continued testiness and animosity could sour promotional plans after sales for the first fight were harmed because it was preceded three weeks earlier by more than 4 million pay-per-view buys going to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor fight.
Alvarez has only once publicly addressed his positive drug tests with reporters while in Mexico, while surrounded by his promotional team and limiting questions.
“We can’t control where [Alvarez] is going to train or how he’s going to fight and how they promote the fight is up to them,” Loeffler said. “We can’t focus on what Canelo and Golden Boy is going to do. We’ll try to make the best out of the promotion … .”
An HBO executive said they had not received firm promotional commitments from Alvarez as of Monday.
“We anticipate some video programs publicizing the fight and letting the fight fans know what happened,” said HBO’s Tony Walker, vice president of pay-per-view. “We want to be fair. ... Jim Lampley has a ‘Fight Game’ to run before the fight. You think he’s not going to let the fans know what happened?”
Alvarez’s promoter, Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez, said he’s scheduled a Wednesday meeting with Loeffler to discuss a possible joint news conference “soon … We need to get those tickets on sale.