There is a growing consensus in the boxing world that suggests Gennady Golovkin, regarded to be the best middleweight in the world despite not owning the lineal title, make other plans for a potential fall date— plans that don’t include WBC champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Golovkin has been the WBC mandatory champion for quite some time now, but he permitted himself to be avoided one last time for the sake of boxing when he allowed, then champion, Miguel Cotto to defend his belt against former junior middleweight champion Canelo. This wasn’t a case of “big business” walking all over Golovkin, not at all. He was promised a hefty step aside sum as well as the guarantee that he would be next in line to challenge for the title regardless of whichever fighter walked away the WBC champion at 160lbs.
Well, Golovkin was cheated out of both promises as Cotto tried reneging on the step aside money and Canelo was granted an interim bout before having to accept Golovkin’s challenge. This is what happens to guys that try and do right by others for the sake of boxing. Also, this is the kind of decision a fighter with far superior skills to that of his opposing opposition makes when he knows supremacy is only a matter of time.
Now, Golovkin finds himself in a position where he must await the outcome of a match between Canelo and welterweight turned middleweight, Amir Khan.
Canelo will likely win, but in a recent interview with Sky Sports, Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, says that his fighter will have no qualms challenging Khan if he were to somehow walk away with the victory.
“The priority is the mandatory position that Gennady has with Canelo,” Tom Loeffler told Sky Sports. “That would be the biggest fight in boxing. Clearly, if Amir won [against Canelo] then he would inherit the championship and the order from the WBC is clear: the winner from that fight must fight Golovkin or get stripped of the title.”
Either Canelo or Khan would represent the most commercially significant opponent on Golovkin’s resume. However, they are not the only interesting opponents. In fact, for the sake of middleweight supremacy, they are the least interesting options.
The real middleweight showdown would be Golovkin in a unification match with Billy Joe Saunders who is scheduled to defend his portion of the middleweight crown against Max Bursak on April 30th in London.
Saunders won his WBO middleweight title against Andy Lee last December and the moment his hand was raised there was already a demand for Golovkin to be his next opponent.
Loeffler says that Saunders is not just a worthy opponent, but a likely option if the bout with Canelo/Khan cannot be secured.
“We would still be very interested in a fight there with Saunders,” Loeffler told Sky Sports. If [Canelo or Khan] doesn’t happen for whatever reason then Saunders would be at the top of our list to unify the middleweight division. Gennady is the type of fighter that doesn’t care where he fights.”
Golovkin-Saunders is the better fight for a multitude of reasons. I understand that Golovkin has been waiting for a big-time opponent with a casual fan draw, but let’s not forget his own plans. Golovkin has stuck around the middleweight division in lieu of moving up to find worthy opposition at super middleweight.
Golovkin’s plans have always been to unify all the belts at 160lbs and create a stranglehold over the middleweight division, and what better way to do it than to fight an actual middleweight that won his title against an actual middleweight in a fight that was fought at, well, middleweight.
Golovkin deserves to fight Canelo or, at least, someone with similar drawing power, but does Canelo deserve Golovkin? Canelo has yet to fight an actual middleweight and we will still be waiting after May 7th. To put Canelo in a position where it would seem like he is Golovkin’s middleweight equivalent is outrageous. The fight isn’t going anywhere, either, not that it should be used as an excuse to duck Golovkin.
We all know that Khan isn’t a real middleweight, regardless of whether or not he can pull off the Canelo win.
Saunders has been campaigning at middleweight and he is likely the best fighter in the weight class not named Golovkin.
It would not be smart for Golovkin to maneuver out of the Canelo fight if he can get it by pulling the ultimate power move in selecting Saunders. But if Golovkin-Saunders ends up being the middleweight showdown of the fall then no one should be disappointed.