Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez are arguably the two biggest draws in boxing, with just one loss between them and plenty of knockouts, including in each of their most recent bouts. They are also both middleweights, and a showdown between them is the fight everyone wants to see — except, perhaps, Alvarez and his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya.
Alvarez raised questions of whether he is ducking Golovkin, who is 35-0 with 32 knockouts, when he voluntarily gave up his WBC middleweight title Wednesday. That allowed the Mexican star to avoid a deadline to set a date for a fight against Golovkin, who was the WBC’s mandatory challenger. As a result, the Kazakh fighter now has the WBC belt, along with the WBO and IBF titles, and Alvarez has plenty of questions about whether he intends to back up his talk.
Immediately after an impressive knockout of Amir Khan earlier this month, Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 KOs) called out Golovkin, who was sitting ringside. “Like I said in Mexico, ‘We don’t f— around.’ We don’t come to play in this sport. I fear no one in this sport. I’ll fight him right now,” Alvarez said through a translator. “Let’s put the gloves on and get in there with him.”
For his part, Golovkin has repeatedly expressed an eagerness to square off with Alvarez and unify the middleweight belts — in the ring. One sticking point has been Golovkin’s insistence on fighting at 160 pounds, standard for middleweights, while Alvarez, a former light middleweight champion, has fought his past five opponents at a catch weight of 155.
ESPN boxing reporter Dan Rafael called out De La Hoya on Thursday for being the real reason fans don’t already have a date for Alvarez-Golovkin:
“De La Hoya had a few conversations with [Golovkin promoter Tom] Loeffler about making the fight, but it comes as no surprise that they didn’t get very far,” Rafael wrote. “Alvarez and De La Hoya claimed they vacated, per the agreement, because they did not want to be held hostage by a Tuesday deadline for a purse bid. They called it an artificial deadline, so Alvarez vacated a title belt he worked very hard for and gave the appearance that he is ducking Golovkin, an unbecoming label for the fighter who is supposed to be the face of boxing. …
“I think Alvarez really does want to fight GGG. Just look at the fighters he has faced, some against the better judgment of his handlers: [Floyd] Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara.
“I just don’t think De La Hoya wants this fight right now. Alvarez is his company’s cash cow and an underdog against the monstrous punching Golovkin, who we all know is ready, willing and able to make the fight immediately.”
In a statement about relinquishing his WBC belt Wednesday, Alvarez said, “For the entirety of my career, I have taken the fights that no one wanted because I fear no man. Never has that been more true than today. I will fight GGG, and I will beat GGG, but I will not be forced into the ring by artificial deadlines.
“I am hopeful that by putting aside this ticking clock, the two teams can now negotiate this fight,” he added, “and GGG and I can get in the ring as soon as possible and give the fans the fight they want to see.”
Among those doubtful of how much Alvarez really wants to give fans what they want to see is Shane Mosley. The former lightweight, welterweight and light middleweight champion said in a tweet Wednesday that he found the decision to give up the WBC title “very disappointing.”
“We’d still like to make the fight with Canelo,” Loeffler told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times. “Just because he doesn’t have the title doesn’t mean his value is diminished. He’s still the biggest draw in boxing.”
However, Golovkin’s promoter said, “If we can’t make the fight, we’ll explore the other options on the table for Gennady.”
There would have been no need for options if Alvarez had kept his belt. Now it remains to be seen if he keeps his word, and gets into a ring “as soon as possible” with the fearsome Golovkin.