Following what was yet another destructive title defense, against Dominic Wade, Max Kellerman entered the ring and asked a beaming Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin, what he planned next. The affable Kazakh simply replied, “Max, I want all the belts.”
Back then Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was the WBC and lineal champion, having defeated Puerto Rican great Miguel Cotto. For Golovkin, the Mexican idol represented the most difficult challenge at middleweight, the title he craved and a superstar name that would enhance his legacy and enlarge his bank balance. Canelo was worth chasing in order for GGG to accomplish his long-held ambition of becoming the first undisputed middleweight champion since Jermain Taylor in 2005.
Since then, much has changed. Following painstaking negotiations and posturing, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez finally fought to a controversial draw on 16 September 2017. Most observers felt Golovkin won a clear but competitive contest. In what should have been a fine advertisement for the sport of boxing was ruined by suspicious judging. The familiar stench of corruption lingered in the Vegas skies, as Canelo, the “house fighter” was given the benefit of the doubt and dodged defeat.
In the lead up to the rematch, Canelo shockingly tested positive for clenbuterol. Despite pleading his innocence and adamant it was caused by tainted meat in Mexico – which indeed it may have been – Golovkin himself delivered verbal blows to the Guadalajara native, as emphatically as those that he throws between the ropes. The WBA, WBC and IBF champion claimed that he knew that the man known as “Cinnamon” was a dirty fighter.
With this in mind, should Golovkin afford a rematch to a man with no title and who he believes has sullied the sport of boxing by cheating? Yes, it would generate huge revenue against perhaps the most recognised name in boxing, but would a rematch victory against Canelo guarantee legendary status?
Maybe Golovkin’s best option is to avoid Canelo altogether. A glance to the past shows that Pernell Whitaker’s stock rose significantly, despite his bout with Julio Cesar Chavez being bogusly declared a draw. Similarly, as time passes, the draw verdict will begin to look favourably towards Golovkin. An asterisk will be placed next to the result signifying inept judging and a potentially, illegally enhanced opponent.
Golovkin instead should refocus his energies and remember what it was that he set out to accomplish – to be undisputed champion.
In possession of the remaining recognised world title, WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders provides Golovkin (and of course himself) with an opportunity to achieve a unique, career-defining achievement.
Since joining forces with revered trainer Dominic Ingle, the brash Brit has looked refreshed, rejuvenated and remarkable, particularly when expertly dismantling former Golovkin victim – the dangerous David Lemieux in Canada.
Saunders displayed supreme skill and fantastic footwork. His fine punching technique combined with tremendous timing translated into effective and punishing attacks on his flumoxed foe.
This was a performance that highlighted the talents of a man that was at the peak of his powers. A fighter deserving of the title of “champion” and one whose name would surely sparkle on the record of Gennady Golovkin should he opt to take that challenge.
Having vanquished three British fighters in Mathew Macklin, Martin Murray and most recently, Saunders’ Wincobank stablemate Kell Brook, GGG is well-recognised in Britain.
Billy Joe is alligned with veteran promoter Frank Warren who has a history of successfully promoting huge events and would relish a chance to promote a unification fight between Saunders and Golovkin.
Boxing is booming in Britain and a fight between two champions for all the belts would certainly generate intrigue amongst the general public. The polar-opposite personalities of the fighters would clash entertainingly out of the ring before the contrast of combat styles combust in the ring.
At the ripe age of 37 Golovkin understandably wants to maxmise his financial rewards as his time at the top is running out. The contest would be shown on broadcast giant BT’s new BT Sport pay-per-view platform in Britain and fans would clamour for tickets for a special bout that could possibly fill a stadium. Thus guaranteeing that Golovkin gets paid handsomely to compete in this rare event.
A 50-50 unification fight against a fellow champion in his prime, on PPV and in front of a large and raucous crowd. The perfect stage for a ‘Big Drama Show’ – to finally become the undisputed champion of the world and to take his place amongst the pantheon of all time middleweight greats.