Gennady Golovkin's knockout power makes even a Saturday date against little-known Dominic Wade a possible sellout at the Forum and an HBO main event, but it causes great difficulty in bringing him the fights he wants most.
As the unbeaten World Boxing Assn. and International Boxing Federation middleweight champion closed preparations for Wade at Golovkin's Big Bear training camp, he cast an eye toward a possible future bout against World Boxing Council middleweight champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and expressed concerns over the vibe he's hearing.
With Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones intrigued by the idea of bringing a fall fight between Golovkin and Alvarez to Cowboys Stadium, Alvarez and his camp have mentioned stumbling blocks like the idea that "Canelo's not a true middleweight," that negotiations could be tricky – things typically said to maneuver for a delay.
Explaining the Floyd Mayweather Jr. loss three years ago was one thing – there was a major experience disadvantage – but if Golovkin destroys Alvarez as some expect, the "Canelo" brand may take years to recover.
"Yes, I understand that," Golovkin told The Times. "I understand this decision is maybe 20% Canelo's and 80% [his promoter], Golden Boy. It's business, but it's not respectful of boxing. Everyone says Canelo is a great champion, the idol of Mexico. The idol for what? For boxing? No. Or as a businessman? Right now, he looks like a businessman."
The 25-year-old Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 knockouts), coming off a unanimous-decision victory over veteran, former four-division world champion Miguel Cotto in November, has his first middleweight title defense May 7, opening the new 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against England's former junior-welterweight world champion Amir Khan.
The bout will be fought at a 155-pound catch-weight – the same as Alvarez-Cotto – and Alvarez weighed in just over 163 pounds at his WBC-ordered 30-day weigh-in.
Alvarez, as Mexico's top fighter, is a greater draw than Golovkin. While Golovkin collected less than 150,000 pay-per-view buys for his October title-unification victory over David Lemieux at a sold-out Madison Square Garden, Alvarez-Cotto brought 900,000 buys and Alvarez's 2013 loss to Mayweather was the third-most lucrative bout in the sport's history.
"Anything is possible. Right now, [Alvarez] has a fight with Amir Khan and he's concentrating on that. We'll make a decision after the fight," said Eric Gomez, a Golden Boy Promotions executive. "Gennady's not the first guy to try and goad Canelo into a fight and he's not going to be the last. That doesn't make fights. If he thinks insulting him will make the fight, he's mistaken. Will the fight happen? It's going to happen. It's a matter of when. And we'll make the fight when we feel it's the best time.
"Whether that's after the Khan fight is to be determined."
Golovkin, 34, says he's not concerned with the thoughts of careful career timing that promoters consider. The Kazakhstan fighter says Alvarez has a tradition rooted in the legacy of his home country's warriors to uphold here, to demand the bout that fight fans know he's obligated to take.
"Fighting Amir Khan, then maybe [welterweight Manny] Pacquiao … hey, listen, Canelo, I have double the championship belts [at middleweight]," Golovkin said. "Make the fight with me. It's a good fight for us. Not an easy fight. Everyone understands that. But then next … you can bring on Manny or Floyd [Mayweather]. For me, it's about who's the best? Who's No. 1 in the division? That's what's No. 1 to me.
"Second is money."
Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) said he's striving to unify the middleweight division. England's Billy Joe Saunders holds the World Boxing Organization belt, but his recent disinterest could force Golovkin to take on new WBO super-middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez in the fall should Alvarez and Saunders go elsewhere.
The Mexico-based WBC has ruled Alvarez has 15 days after his expected victory over Khan to begin negotiations with Golovkin or the belt will be stripped and given to Golovkin. That was the same case after Alvarez-Cotto, but Golovkin's promoter, Tom Loeffler, and Golden Boy's Oscar De La Hoya struck a deal to extend the arrangement.
"Canelo says he's the middleweight champion. Middleweight is my best weight," Golovkin said. "Everybody says Canelo's this great champion. I saw his last fight. Cotto's not a real middleweight. Great champion, not a middleweight."
Gomez said he's convinced Alvarez is not yet a true middleweight, given that his 30-day weigh-in figure is more in line with that of a 154-pound fighter.
"Canelo is not a middleweight … if Gennady really wants to make the fight, maybe we can talk about some catch-weight where Gennady comes down [in weight] and Canelo goes up, but he's truly a 154-pounder," Gomez said. "If Canelo is giving up weight, Gennady should, too."
Said Golovkin: "I'm a middleweight. So let's settle who's the best middleweight. Canelo? He's a big idol … is he really a junior-middleweight? Come on, guys. Let's fight. You don't want the fight, I understand, you're 100% a businessman. So go fight Manny Pacquiao. But I wait, I've been waiting … let's go fight."