Gennady Golovkin unsure if rematch against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will happen
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin is happy about this much: At least he will get to fight again on Saturday.
“I feel very happy that it’s all been resolved and I’m going to be fighting in a very important fight where several belts will be at stake and I think the audience will enjoy it,” Golovkin, flanked by longtime trainer Abel Sanchez, said in an extended meeting with two reporters in his hotel suite on Thursday.
What GGG is less than thrilled about is the ongoing discussion about whether he will face Canelo Alvarez in a rematch on Sept. 15. In fact, he said Thursday it is anything but a sure thing.
The only reason Golovkin will engage in a hastily arranged title defense — a division record-tying 20th in a row if he wins — against replacement opponent Vanes Martirosyan (HBO, 11 p.m. ET/PT) at the StubHub Center in Carson is because Alvarez is suspended for six months and ineligible to box on Saturday. They were originally scheduled to fight in Las Vegas in a much-anticipated pay-per-view rematch of their controversial draw in September that most thought Golovkin won.
Martirosyan took the fight on less than three weeks’ notice — though he had been training — after Alvarez withdrew from the fight while waiting for the Nevada State Athletic Commission to suspend him on April 18 for two Voluntary Anti-Doping Association-administered drug tests that were positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol in February.
The entire situation has Golovkin angry. Usually mild-mannered, Golovkin has repeatedly ripped Alvarez as a cheater and also has accused him of using PEDs in the lead up to their September bout, even though Alvarez, whose suspension will be lifted Aug. 17, never failed any tests associated with that event.
Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), a heavy favorite over Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs), and Sanchez sounded as though the rematch with Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) in September is anything but the sure thing most assume will happen given that, financially, it is by far the biggest fight for either man.
Their biggest issue with Alvarez — beyond the failed tests — is that he is presently not enrolled in a testing program despite insistence from Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya that Alvarez would enroll in a testing program immediately and be tested through the proposed rematch in September.
Golovkin and Sanchez said if that was true he would be enrolled in a VADA testing program even without a fight scheduled. According to the terms of his Nevada suspension, Alvarez, who has passed several additional tests, including hair follicle testing since the positive tests, does not have to submit to any testing until a month before his next fight in the state.
“He’s not being tested and that tells a lot,” Golovkin said. “I’m clean. I don’t have any problems. I feel comfortable answering those questions. They keep saying things like nothing happened.”
Said Sanchez: “On April 18, when he was suspended, Nevada lost its jurisdiction until the day he reapplies for a license. It seems ignorant to me. If you get a DUI or something like that they put you under a microscope. The fact that he’s not [testing] speaks to his character. He needs to prove it to the public. He needs to prove it so the next fight he is free of any questions.
“Two, three weeks ago Oscar came out and said he would be tested every day. He’s a guy who’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing.”
Sanchez said that following Saturday’s fight Golovkin plans to remain in a VADA testing program just to show the public and media that he is a clean fighter, which he believes Alvarez should also do.
“We are going to talk to the VADA people about Gennady being tested on a plan they feel is the best between fights so we can show that Gennady is willing to comply with whatever it is required so this sport is clean,” Sanchez said. “That’s all he ever asked for — to have a level playing field.”
And because Alvarez is not being tested, Golovkin isn’t so sure he will fight Alvarez in September.
“We made a lot of concessions. We made a lot more concessions than the other side did,” Golovkin said about making the fight that took place in September. “Knowing that and knowing other things about the other side there is a question mark about whether there will be a fight in September or not. I have nothing to hide but I don’t see any willingness from the other side to offer some fair conditions. Maybe they will do it later, but at this point no.
“I do think I won [in September]. I think I’m better. I had all my belts. Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket with Canelo. There are other good fighters, maybe not as good financially, but Canelo is not the only option. There are some other boxers who should be given a chance. Let’s not only talk about Canelo. The way I see it Canelo is the largest problem we have in boxing. He’s a dirty fighter because he was caught doping and that’s why we shouldn’t spend too much time talking about him. He’s a problem we have in boxing.
“Some people say we should make concessions to Canelo because he just made a little mistake. But it should be to the contrary. VADA should test him. He should be made an example of what happens to somebody who is trying dirty tricks.”
Sanchez said what makes matters worse is that Alvarez is not doing anything to improve his image following the failed tests, even if they were caused by meat contamination, as Alvarez said.
“They’re not doing anything to rectify his image,” Sanchez said. “My focus is on [Saturday]. If we don’t get past Vanes there’s no sense talking about anything but if [Alvarez is] not doing anything to rectify the issues in front of him now maybe he’s doing that on purpose. Maybe he doesn’t want the rematch and it gives him an out. It’s a feeling we’ve had for a while.”
Golden Boy Promotions spokesman Stefan Friedman told ESPN that Alvarez is committed to complying with the rules and to what he is obligated to do in terms of testing.
“GGG is well-aware that there is VADA testing in our contract and that Canelo will abide by it, but from all indications, it appears GGG has absolutely no interest in fighting Canelo and is looking for a way out,” Friedman said. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Canelo wants the rematch. If GGG manages to get past Vanes on Saturday, perhaps he’ll become more interested in fighting Canelo in September.”
If there is no rematch, Sanchez said GGG won’t lack for interesting opponents.
“Boxing does not revolve around Canelo. There are a lot of other fighters in the middleweight division who deserve to fight for a title,” he said.
Sanchez mentioned fighters such as titleholder Billy Joe Saunders; interim titlist Jermall Charlo, now one of Golovkin’s mandatory challengers; Daniel Jacobs, who lost a competitive decision to Golovkin last year and is another GGG mandatory challenger; Sergey Derevyanchenko, yet another Golovkin mandatory challenger; and secondary titlist Ryota Murata, whose handlers have piqued Golovkin’s interest by mentioning the possibility of a major fight in Japan at the Tokyo Dome.
“There are a lot of guys available that the public needs to focus on instead of a guy that’s refusing to comply with the rules,” Sanchez said. “The middleweight division is vibrant. If Canelo’s not available who cares? We have to be concerned with Gennady’s career, nobody else’s career.”