Unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin said Monday that agreeing to a deal for a rematch with Canelo Alvarez was more about his principles than the tens of millions he will earn.
Meeting the media on Monday at a downtown Los Angles steakhouse to speak about the deal and rematch for the first time since the last-ditch efforts to finalize it last Wednesday nearly fell apart, Golovkin said he was prepared to walk away from the fight if he didn't get what he wanted, which was 45 percent of the pie for what most view as the biggest fight in boxing.
"It was the principle of the matter, 45 percent for me, not 35 or 42.5, just 45," Golovkin said. "Good deal, very happy."
Details of the contractual split have not yet been officially disclosed, but Golovkin said he was ready to lose out on a payday likely to exceed $40 million if he didn't get what he wanted.
"My original demand was 50-50, but after some thought I understood that 55-45 was good deserving number for both of us and if it didn't happen we were ready to move on," Golovkin said. "[Golden Boy and Alvarez] knew they would have a good deal either way. I was not going to go lower in percentage to make a deal.
"I said I'm going to agree to 45 percent and it's going to be my last percentage. I didn't think about this too much. First time I said 50-50. Second time I thought, OK, 45 and that will be my last statement. It wasn't about me being sure or not sure. It was just my last proposition. Take it or leave it."
The rematch will take place on Sept. 15 (HBO PPV) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, one day shy of one year since they met at the same venue and fought to a hugely controversial draw most thought Golovkin won.
Alvarez received the lion's share of a 70-30 revenue split for that fight, which generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys and a $27 million gate -- the third-biggest in boxing history -- and when the rematch was set for May 5 Alvarez was due to receive a favorable 65-35 split. But when Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) failed two drug tests in February for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol and was suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the rematch was canceled.
The fighters traded harsh words and their mutual respect went out the window.
"I don't think anything about him as a human being," Golovkin said. "I'm not really concerned about him. I just hope he will be there on Sept. 15 to fight."
After the May 5 fight was canceled Golovkin instead faced late-notice opponent Vanes Martirosyan in Carson, California, crushed him in two rounds and made about $1 million instead of the roughly $25 million he would have made had the rematch with Alvarez taken place as scheduled.
Then they revived rematch talks and cleared a major hurdle when Alvarez signed up for year-round Voluntary Anti-Doping Association testing 24/7/365.
However, weeks later Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) changed his mind and insisted on redoing the deal at 50-50. Golden Boy went to 60-40 and GGG eventually dropped his demand to 55-45. Golden Boy offered to split the difference at 57½-42½ and set a deadline of noon PT last Wednesday.
Golovkin said no and the deadline passed, only for a deal to be agreed to two hours later because of what Golden Boy president Eric Gomez described as the company throwing "a Hail Mary and it was caught."
Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler said GGG remained steadfast in his demands throughout the difficult negotiations.
"He gave me clear instructions of what he would accept. He would have signed a long time ago and finally, when he was satisfied with the deal, that's when we agreed last Wednesday," Loeffler said.
Loeffler said both camps agreed not to disclose specifics of the deal that was agreed to but said, "If Gennady didn't get what he wanted, he wouldn't have agreed to the deal. Whatever you want to infer from that we can leave it at that. But he's happy.
"There wasn't much of a deal changer. Gennady was very clear with what he would be satisfied with. He had made the concession to come off the 50-50 split, which he thought was fair. He's the champion; he's the one more people thought won the first fight; he's the one who didn't test positive, so he felt a 50-50 split [was fair]. Then he said OK, for Canelo's ego and for negotiations he would give him the extra 5 percent. And the deal was dead."
At that point, Golovkin was prepared to instead face England's Billy Joe Saunders in a unification fight.
"If Canelo fight didn't happen we'd fight Billy Joe Saunders and that's it," Golovkin said.
Said Loeffler: "We made a lot of concessions for the first fight. We made a lot of concessions for the rematch. When Canelo got suspended, he stood his ground out of principle. He said either we'll go with this fight or we'll go with the other direction with Saunders and he had no problem. He wasn't focused on the revenue. It was all about the principle and the respect for him as a champion and he got the deal he wanted and here we are."
Abel Sanchez, GGG's trainer, said there was no way Golovkin was going to budge from his demands. "Amongst the team we had probably four, five meetings and every one Gennady was adamant," Sanchez said. "'What happens happens. What will be will be. If not [the rematch] we have another fight.' He wasn't concerned that last hour. It is what it is, we'll go fight somebody else."
Loeffler said he worked out terms for the Saunders fight with Saunders promoter Frank Warren for it to take place Aug. 25 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Golden Boy, meanwhile, was in discussions for Alvarez to face Daniel Jacobs, who gave Golovkin his toughest fight in a March 2017 decision win, on Sept. 15.
"An hour later, [Gomez] called back. He had one last proposal, which satisfied what Gennady wanted and that's why we're here," Loeffler said. "Canelo Alvarez is not going to lose money on this fight. This will be his biggest payday. Whatever conjectures there are with splits and things like that Canelo will most likely make the biggest payday of his career.
"They imposed the deadline. I've never been a big believer in deadlines. I was on the phone trying to come up with a solution with Eric before their deadline. We couldn't come up with a solution and that's when we said we'll go our separate ways and maybe in the future we could do this. And then that's when I think they realized they can't let this opportunity go by. Canelo fights somebody else, GGG fights somebody else. You never know if someone gets injured. You never know what happens, if a fight can be put back together."
This rematch was, and while Golovkin and Alvarez showed enormous respect toward each other heading into the first fight, even saying they could be friends afterward, that notion appears long gone now.
"He didn't deserve for me to give him 5 percent or 7 percent or less percentage," Golovkin said. "For my friends, yes, I would do that deal, but not for him. I lost a lot of respect for Canelo. He's not boxing. I'm the champion. He needs to prove himself to me."
There probably will be more tough talk from both sides as the fight grows closer, Loeffler said. "I would say the gloves are off for this promotion," he said. Said Sanchez: "It's not hate but it's bad blood because of what [Alvarez] put us through. There are some wrongs that need to be righted and they will be on the 15th."