Can Golovkin become the A-side Over Cotto/Canelo?


    Gennady GolovkinThere are a lot of storylines as we approach the two biggest middleweight fights of the year.

    First, we have Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux’s title unification bout on HBO PPV taking place October 17th, which will happen in front of an expected sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York.

    And we won’t have to wait long for the next big middleweight showdown, either. In fact, Miguel Cotto will defend his lineal WBC 160 lb. title against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez a month later, also on HBO PPV. However, Cotto-Alvarez will take place in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay November 21st.

    Storylines for that fight include the Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry, the fact that the middleweight title will be fought at a catch-weight of 155 lbs., and youthful athleticism against aged refinement to name a few. There are certainly others, but those are three of the most burning questions in fans’ eyes.

    As for Golovkin-Lemieux, the storylines are deep, but not as deep as Cotto-Canelo. With that said, the most important storyline in my mind exists in this matchup because as good as Cotto-Canelo could be, Golovkin-Lemieux is a battle of real middleweights with world-class power. It has the potential for a more explosive finish to say the least.

    There is, however, a much more interesting storyline that exists among both fights, grouping together all four fighters. The WBC has ordered the winner of Cotto-Canelo to defend the middleweight title against the winner of Golovkin-Lemieux. The majority consensus is that we won’t see that fight come to terms, at least not following each contest.

    You have to figure that Lemieux pulling the upset would make things more plausible, and I would also argue that Canelo winning would heighten the chances of a showdown between winners.

    For a moment, let’s consider the potential of this mini tournament coming to fruition. The ramifications would be huge, and the potential for a major promotion complete with booming ticket sales and aspiring PPV numbers is not even fully realized.

    We all know how big Canelo and Cotto are but consider for the moment where Golovkin stands. If “A-sides” were built on the premise that the best fighters get the top bill, then Golovkin is the obvious lead in any promotion, Cotto or Canelo considered. However, with Canelo and Cotto’s stature in the sport you have to assume they will receive the A-side tag, and rightfully so. Or is it?

    Golovkin has been doing big numbers. He has certainly proven he is a top commodity in the sport of boxing, but he has reached a point where we can no longer say that he’s good for someone not named Cotto or Canelo because his ability to draw is putting him in a very prominent class.

    Of course, the argument stands that Cotto and Canelo have been producing significant numbers for much longer. But if you look at the growth of all three fighters in the last five years, you realize that Golovkin is truly the fighter on the rise from a commercial standpoint.

    Cotto has reached his ceiling while Canelo is only waiting out Mayweather and Pacquiao before earning boxing’s biggest cash cow label.

    Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Golovkin’s promoter, is quick to remind us of his fighter’s appeal and the very impressive feats he’s accomplished over the span of a few years. When you look at everything Golovkin has done, you start to see why comparing his commercial appeal with that of Canelo and Cotto isn’t so farfetched.

    “Gennady, where he’s at now, he broke the attendance at the StubHub Center, he had 12,000 people at the Forum, and now we’re expecting a sellout, over 20,000 people here at Madison Square Garden, you can’t underestimate his marketability. The Garden really supported him, and now with HBO PPV onboard it’s taking his career to a whole new level,” Loeffler told Nestor Gibbs of Tha Boxing

    Now, I’m not saying that Golovkin is a bigger star than Cotto right now, and I’m not saying his potential will surpass Canelo’s, not now nor ever. But Golovkin is doing something that neither fighter has done.

    Golovkin is testing the boundaries of his fandom by stretching coast to coast. He is becoming a marketable fighter on both sides of the country, which is unlike any active fighter in the sport today.

    Of course, Cotto hasn’t attempted to test his drawing power in California at this stage of his career, and Canelo is playing the numbers, which keeps the East Coast out of the running for any of his fights. For all we know, Canelo would do just as well at the Barclays as he does in Texas or California.

    Still, there is only one fighter spanning the country, and you have to consider what that means for this era in boxing.

    Loeffler is well aware of this fact and challenges any fighter, regardless of their own commercial appeal, to gauge Golovkin’s success and compare it with their own. They’ll find out that Golovkin is not only the most rewarding fight from a competition standpoint, but he is also the most lucrative fight available in a post Canelo-Cotto era in the middleweight division.

    “[Gennady] is the only active fighter [selling on both coasts]. Miguel definitely sells here in New York, you have Canelo selling in Texas, but [Gennady] is the only one that can really play the biggest arenas in L.A., sellout Madison Square Garden, and it’s because of his style. His style isn’t for one demographic. He’s got such a fan friendly style in the ring and a style outside the ring that the fans appreciate. He’s a people’s champion.”

    I won’t say that Golovkin deserves to be the A-side in a fight with either Canelo or Cotto, but I submit that any excuse those two middleweights come up with in an effort to avoid Triple G will lack validity if finances are the focal point. Those issues of ‘what does Golovkin bring to the table?’ are no longer applicable.

    We are, in fact, getting closer to a point in boxing where the top junior-middleweights, middleweights, and super-middleweights will need Golovkin more than he needs them.

    If you look at Cotto’s successes and Canelo’s recent numbers they are coming against solid opposition. Golovkin, on the other hand, is more than making do with fighters of lesser notoriety.

    Golovkin’s financial successes have come in fights where he is the one and only draw. He is becoming a solo attraction and maintaining a steady growth in capital and popularity across the country.

    Boxing has always been at its most profitable when a matchup can be sold on the basis of two fighters with equally compelling interests that are only propelled further when they meet head to head. Golovkin is shattering that notion.

    Even Mayweather and Pacquiao have recently experienced their share lows in terms of numbers when the matchup they are promoting is viewed as inadequate.

    The question is whether or not Golovkin can continue this growth, and at this rate if he is left out of the big picture amongst the other marquee names. However, we might have to consider how much longer the other cash cows can continue their own successes, and strive for more if they continue to leave Golovkin out of the mix.

    I contend that if they wait too long, then the notion of A-side might get blurred just enough that Golovkin begins to control the stakes.