It took former unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin several months to make a decision on which offer to accept from a broadcaster when he became a free agent with the expiration of his HBO deal last fall.
There was never a question that Golovkin would earn boatloads of money regardless of where he signed, be it with ESPN/Top Rank, Premier Boxing Champions or DAZN, all of which chased after him and made big offers.
In the end, Golovkin picked DAZN, the upstart sports streaming service that is investing heavily in boxing, for reasons beyond the money -- although he will earn nine figures over the life of the three-year, six-fight deal announced on Friday.
On Monday, in Los Angeles, Golovkin met the media alongside DAZN executive chairman John Skipper, who negotiated the deal with him, to discuss his new contract. With Golovkin turning 37 on April 8, the contract figures to take him to the end of his likely Hall of Fame career.
Of course, the money was critical, but Golovkin said so was DAZN having so many of his most appealing potential opponents under contract and agreeing to help him build his GGG Promotions stable. DAZN promised GGG Promotions two cards per year in 2020 and 2021 (in addition to GGG's own fight cards) to help him build a stable of fighters he plans to sign, primarily from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
"It's no secret I had others offers from other companies," said Golovkin, whose ring return will come June 8 or 15 against an opponent and at a site to be determined. "Right now I have the best partner that will let me promote fighters on GGG Promotions and me as a fighter.
"I hope I can do six fights. I feel great. After six fights I'll see what I can do, but have to focus on these six fights. I've gained a lot of experience in the last years of my career. I want to share that with fighters who will be working with me on GGG Promotions and I think with DAZN we have the right partner."
Skipper said he felt signing Golovkin was critical, which is why he pursued him with such vigor.
"We have a clear agenda at DAZN to bring fans the best fights for an affordable subscription price. We are not going to be able to bring fans the (best) fights without Gennady Golovkin," Skipper said. "He was a key element. There was very little question in my mind that this is a signing we needed to make."
Skipper said the fact that Golovkin took so long to make a decision was no big deal to him.
"I had a chance to meet his wife and had a chance to see his new son. This took a long time because this is a lifetime decision," he said. "It was complicated and it's a decision he's making on his life."
Golovkin, who was far more intimately involved in all of the details of these contract talks than he had been in the past, could also not ignore the array of significant opponents whom he could fight on DAZN, which has most of the top middleweights under contract. Last fall, Skipper signed GGG's archrival and boxing's biggest star, Canelo Alvarez, who narrowly outpointed GGG to win the unified middleweight title in their September rematch, to an athlete-record five-year, 11-fight, $365 million deal.
Also under contract to DAZN are world titleholders Daniel Jacobs, who meets Alvarez on May 4, and Demetrius Andrade. In addition, junior middleweight titlist Jaime Munguia, who likely will move to middleweight next year, is with the service, as is super middleweight titleholder Callum Smith, should Golovkin want to move up and seek a title shot in a second weight division.
Should Alvarez defeat Jacobs, whom Golovkin outpointed by close decision in 2017, there likely will be a third Canelo-GGG fight in September. Alvarez has said he is open to it and Golovkin is also.
"Of course it was important for me," Golovkin said. "Right now we want to have the most important fights in boxing, many important fights. That's what I want to do right now."
Skipper said a third Canelo-GGG match is at the top of his wish list.
"Our intention is to bring fans the best fights and the fights they most want to see. A third fight between Gennady and Canelo is what fans want to see," Skipper said. "We're focused right now on May 4 with Canelo and Daniel Jacobs. Jacobs happens to be a DAZN fighter and we're focused on the fight Gennady will have in June, which we also expect to be a difficult fight. He's only interested in fighting appropriate opponents. So we're going to focus on those fights and see what happens."
Golovkin would also like to unify all four major belts, as he always has, but he added that boxing politics makes that extremely difficult. He said he would be satisfied now with the biggest fights even if he can't collect all of the belts in the 160-pound division, where his 20 title defenses have him tied for the most in division history with Bernard Hopkins.
"People understand a lot of politics about all the belts," he said. "The idea is not to have all belts possible, but it's to be best boxer and sometimes people with belts are not the best boxers."
Despite his upcoming 37th birthday and a long career that also includes some 300 amateur fights, Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), a Kazakhstan native living in Santa Monica, California, said he still feels fresh and is looking forward to getting back to training camp with trainer Abel Sanchez in Big Bear Lake, California.
"In my normal life I feel great. I'll go to training camp in April and I'll be able to answer this question (about whether he is slowing down) better," he said.
Sanchez was on hand at the news conference and said he has not seen any erosion in Golovkin's skills.
"I can only gauge in the fight. There's not anyone that has dominated him or in the gym," Sanchez said. "He's fighting at his top level. I imagine there's some (erosion) but until someone proves it to me in the ring I have to say no. Great thing about him, and he always has been (this way), he's very professional. He's probably 10-12 pounds over his (fighting) weight now, so when he comes into camp he's not abusing his body, and we can focus on working on other things."