The camps for middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez and unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin cleared an important hurdle Sunday night on their way to making what figures to be the biggest fight in boxing, barring a rematch between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
At a Sunday night meeting in Los Angeles, Eric Gomez of Alvarez promoter Golden Boy Promotions and Tom Loeffler of Golovkin promoter K2 met with WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman and agreed that both fighters would be allowed to have interim bouts before an expected fight against each other in September.
Alvarez won the lineal world title and WBC belt from Miguel Cotto on Nov. 21 in their megafight in Las Vegas. With the victory, Alvarez inherited a mandatory defense obligation against Golovkin because, besides his two sanctioning body titles, GGG also holds the WBC's interim belt.
Golden Boy and K2 Promotions faced a Friday deadline to make a deal or Alvarez risked being stripped of the title. However, Sulaiman, who has been doing everything he can to help facilitate a deal, extended the deadline to Monday.
On Monday, Sulaiman announced that Alvarez and Golovkin would be allowed the interim bouts "so as to maximize the interest in their highly anticipated showdown."
Loeffler told ESPN.com that Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs), 33, a native of Kazakhstan who lives in Los Angeles, is penciled in to fight in March or April on HBO against an opponent to be determined. It was originally going to be in February or early March, but "we had to wait until this agreement [for the interim bouts] was reached, and that precluded February," Loeffler said.
Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs), 25, is due to fight an opponent to be determined on HBO PPV on May 7, which is Cinco de Mayo weekend, a big deal for Mexico's biggest boxing star.
Following the interim bouts but before May 31, the WBC will give the sides 15 days to make a deal for the fall fight, assuming both win the interim bouts. If they do not make a deal, the WBC will order a purse bid.
"If after their corresponding voluntary defenses one boxer is unable to fight the other for the undisputed WBC middleweight championship of the world, the unable fighter will lose his status as champion or interim champion," Sulaiman said. "The fighter able to fight will be named undisputed WBC world champion.
"Canelo versus GGG is one of the most important events in the sport of boxing, and their promotional companies and partners have been communicating openly and in good faith. The ultimate goal of all involved is to make certain that the best conditions are secured for their fighters and the boxing world, and to preserve their full commitment to abide by, and respect, the governing WBC rules and regulations."
Golden Boy and K2 Promotions have an excellent relationship. They worked well together for an Oct.17 HBO PPV card on which Golovkin unified two belts by knocking out David Lemieux, who is promoted by Golden Boy. Both sides said they believe they will be able to work out a deal.
"Do we want to do the fight with Golovkin? Absolutely," Gomez told ESPN.com. "It will come down to negotiation and making sure the terms are adequate enough to do the fight, but as far as Canelo wanting the fight to happen and as far as us wanting the fight to happen, yes, we want the fight. It's the fight the fans want and we want to give it to the fans. We will sit down and negotiate the terms and make sure they're fair and everybody is happy, but first, we had to agree to do the interim fights. That was a big step.
"We have a very, very good relationship with Tom, but right now, we're focused on May. Canelo is excited about fighting on Cinco de Mayo. We'll concentrate on that and focus on who he will fight next, and then we'll turn our attention to Golovkin and sit down with K2 and see what we come up with."
The camps will have a lot of work to do, mainly negotiating the weight -- Alvarez does not want to fight at the 160-pound division limit and prefers 155, one over the junior middleweight limit he has had for his past four fights -- while Golovkin wants the fight at the full 160 pounds.
"Canelo just made 155 with no problem," Gomez said. "[The weight] is hard to discuss right now. We both agreed to do voluntary fights. After, we will sit down like gentlemen and negotiate everything."
They will also have to agree on how to split the money. If it goes to a purse bid, the split has not yet been determined, although Alvarez will get the lion's share. The WBC still has to decide the percentage split of a purse bid.
"Whatever the WBC sets forth we will follow," Gomez said. "We always have. But the way we're working with Tom and the relationship we have, it would be hard to see a scenario where this goes to a purse bid."
If they negotiate the split, Alvarez will also command the lion's share of the money -- which Loeffler does not dispute -- because he is the much bigger draw based on his gates, television ratings and pay-per-view numbers.
"We will negotiate everything in good faith," Loeffler said. "It was agreed between both parties to build up the fight and maximize the exposure and revenue. Everyone believes this would be the biggest fight in boxing. The agreement we reached with Golden Boy and the WBC means that by the end of May, Gennady will be part of the biggest fight in boxing or he will add the WBC title to his other two titles.
"Canelo is a proud fighter. If he didn't care about the title, he wouldn't have bothered with this agreement [for the voluntary fights]. The purpose of agreeing to it is to make their fight even bigger."