While unified middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez is set to get back to business by fighting secondary super middleweight world titlist Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 armed with a brand new record-breaking contract with sports streaming service DAZN, his rival and former champion, Gennady Golovkin, is taking his time figuring out his next move.
In a much-anticipated rematch of their disputed 2017 draw, Alvarez won a razor-close majority decision over Golovkin – 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114 – to win the title on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas. Both fighters had been under exclusive contract to HBO but their deals ran out after the fight and a couple of weeks later HBO announced that after 45 years of being synonymous with American televised boxing it would no longer broadcast the sport after this year.
Early Wednesday, Alvarez signed a five-year, 11-fight deal with DAZN worth a minimum of $365 million, the richest athlete contract in history. Golovkin, however, is in no particular hurry to get his next fight or broadcast situation squared away.
Golovkin, who lives in Santa Monica, California, spent most of the past two weeks visiting family in his native Kazakhstan and now is in Germany, where he used to live, tending to some business affairs.
Tom Loeffler, GGG’s promoter, told ESPN that he is sorting through offers for Golovkin’s services.
“There are three boxers who move the needle whether it’s selling pay-per-view, tickets or attracting subscribers – Anthony Joshua, Canelo and GGG,” Loeffler said. “We’re receiving a lot of offers, very significant offers. So I am sifting through them to make sure we get the best deal possible for Gennady.”
Loeffler said he is talking to ESPN, Showtime and DAZN and that “there’s a different platform that is not involved in boxing right now that has expressed interest in Gennady. So we’re talking to all of those platforms. We want to make the right deal for Gennady. We want to make sure Gennady gets a deal representative of the value that he brings to a (broadcast) partner.”
Loeffler said one potential fight for Golovkin would mean fighting on ESPN, and that would be against secondary middleweight world titlist Ryota Murata, who is a superstar in his native Japan, for whom he won an Olympic gold medal in 2012.
Murata is co-promoted by Akihiko Honda of Teiken Boxing and Top Rank, which is only a few months into a new seven-year deal with ESPN.
Murata (14-1, 11 KOs), 32, will make his second title defense against mandatory challenger Robert Brant (23-1, 16 KOs), 28, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, on Saturday at the Park MGM in Las Vegas in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card (10:30 p.m. ET).
Loeffler said he will be in attendance and said that if Murata is victorious he views him as the frontrunner to fight Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), 36, next.
“Murata fights this weekend and he is a very attractive option if he beats Brant,” Loeffler said. “I have a good relationship with Mr. Honda and Top Rank, and that fight seems like it is very makeable.”
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum and Loeffler have spoken about the prospect of the fight, which they would want to do in Tokyo at the Tokyo Dome, where Buster Douglas famously knocked out Mike Tyson to win the heavyweight world title in 1990 in one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
“After the Murata fight, if he wins on Saturday, he becomes a very interesting opponent,” Loeffler said. “Gennady has always enjoyed fighting internationally. We know what GGG brings to the table and Murata brings monster ratings in Japan and he is very popular. I would say he has distinguished himself as the frontrunner if he can win on Saturday night.”
Arum reiterated that he would like to make the fight with Murata and Golovkin next if Murata takes care of Brant.
“He may have lost a decision, Golovkin, but I thought he won the fight (against Alvarez),” Arum said. “He’s a big name, and if GGG fights Murata in Japan, at the Tokyo Dome that would be absolutely huge. In Tom Loeffler, he has a good guy, a great promoter, who understands boxing and it’s up to us and Honda, our co-promoter for Murata, to make Tom an offer he can’t refuse.”
Loeffler said whatever direction they go in he expects Golovkin to return to the ring as soon as March but not later than May.
“But any fight we make would not preclude us from a third fight with Canelo,” he said. “But there are a lot of names in the middleweight division that are probably willing to get in the ring with Gennady now that wouldn’t a few years ago because he brings so much money to the table now and he hasn’t been knocking everybody out.”