Unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin wants his mandatory fight with champion Canelo Alvarez next -- as do most boxing fans! -- but the sides cut a deal recently to put it off until at least September, with both fighters planning interim bouts.
The problem is that there are really no fights all that interesting for either man ahead of their showdown, which for my money is the biggest fight that can be made in boxing right now.
Nonetheless, Golovkin is slated to fight on April 23 on HBO and Alvarez on May 7 on HBO PPV. Their opponents have not been determined, and neither fight has a set site.
But don’t expect anything all that exciting or interesting. At least Golovkin and his promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, made a legitimate offer for a unification fight against England’s Billy Joe Saunders, which would have been significant. But Saunders is asking for the moon -- and the stars! -- and it is not going to happen.
Had the fight happened, because it was a unification bout, Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) could have put off his own mandatory defense. But now he must make his mandatory or risk being stripped of his IBF belt (like Tyson Fury was 10 days after upsetting Wladimir Klitschko for his heavyweight belts).
Golovkin’s goal is to collect all the belts, and that means mandatory defenses. Some are good, some are of the “who cares” variety. With the Saunders fight out the window, Loeffler was ready to make a deal for Golovkin to fight mandatory challenger Tureano Johnson, which was at least mildly interesting. However, Johnson has a shoulder injury and will not be able to fight in April, so that is also down the drain.
With Johnson out, the IBF went down its middleweight rankings (which are rather poor, the truth be told) and arrived at No. 3 Dominic Wade.
And there you have it. Wade is likely Golovkin’s April 23 opponent.
The IBF told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Wade has accepted the mandatory position and that Loeffler is negotiating the fight with promoter Tom Brown, who is representing Wade.
Wade (18-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Washington, D.C., is a good puncher and was a good amateur. But he is not ready for Golovkin and he has virtually zero name recognition. He has faced extremely limited opposition, although he did score his most notable victory in his last fight in June. But it was a very debatable split decision against 41-year-old former titlist Sam Soliman, who made the fight as ugly as could be.
One of the interesting aspects of a possible GGG-Wade fight is that Wade’s adviser is Al Haymon. Anyone who follows boxing should already know that Haymon, the Premier Boxing Champions creator, and HBO had a serious fracture in their relationship a couple of years ago. Because of that, Haymon’s fighters are banned from the network, a decision made by former HBO Sports president Ken Hershman.
Hershman’s contract expired on Dec. 31, and he is no longer at the network, having been replaced by his former second-in-command, Peter Nelson, who now runs HBO Sports under the executive vice president title.
Whether this is a special situation because Wade is the mandatory challenger for Golovkin, who is under contract to HBO, or whether Nelson will seek to start fresh with Haymon remains to be seen, but all indications are that HBO would allow Wade to fight Golovkin on the network should Loeffler and Brown make a deal.
One would have to assume that Loeffler would not have begun discussions with Brown for the fight without HBO having already approved Wade as an opponent.
HBO did not want to get into it other than to say, “We support GGG.” Loeffler said he is working on Golovkin’s next fight but declined to discuss the potential opponent.