By Jake Donovan
If there’s a bright side for Gennady Golovkin in light of his proposed July 19 showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on the verge of falling through, it’s that things can return to exactly where they were.
The reigning middleweight titlist was prepared to move up to super middleweight to accommodate Chavez Jr. for what would have been a pay-per-view headliner. As Chavez Jr. squabbles with promoter Top Rank over his current contract and proposed extensions in order to make this fight happen, Golovkin can take comfort in the fact that he will be returning in July, and at his normal weight.
Representatives from HBO have stated the network is prepared to walk arm-in-arm with Golovkin for his next fight, which will come at some point in July, whether on the 19th or another Saturday in the month. The bout would take place on the flagship network rather than pay-per-view – assuming Chavez Jr. removes himself from the mix - and would come at the 160 lb. division in a title fight against the best available challenger.
With that in mind, the unbeaten middleweight and his handlers can take comfort in the fact that everything else remains on schedule.
“It is unfortunate that terms could not be agreed on the Chavez side. We made a lot of concessions to make this fight and had agreed terms with Top Rank a while ago,” points out Tom Loeffler, Managing Director of K2 Promotions. “It is a fight that was considered one of the biggest fights of the year and we got a great response from both the fans and the media when it looked like this fight was going to happen. We were willing to make the concessions for the upside on because we knew how marketable this fight was going to be.
“With that said, we cannot force anyone to get in the ring with Gennady. If Chavez couldn't come to an agreement, then we have to move on in order not to jeopardize our July fight.”
Golovkin enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013, scoring four knockouts in as many fights and emerging as the greatest threat to lineal middleweight king Sergio Martinez. Three of Golovkin’s fights aired live on HBO, with a similar pattern planned for 2014.
His year began off-TV, however, knocking out Osumana Adama this past February in Monte Carlo. The plan was to return to HBO in late April, tentatively slated to face fringe middleweight contender. However, the Kazakh knockout artist was forced to withdraw due to the untimely passing of his father earlier this spring.
The scheduled bout with Chavez Jr. would come at the expense of a 24-week layoff, something he hasn’t experienced since spending nearly nine months out of the ring chasing down Felix Sturm for a title fight towards the end of 2009 and for much of 2010. An interim title fight was eventually granted, with Golovkin knocking out Milton Nunez in less than a minute to begin his foray into the middleweight title picture.
Golovkin is 12-0 in title fights, all of which have ended inside the distance. Overall, the 32-year old has scored 17 straight knockouts, a big part of the reason why fans are eager to see him in the ring and HBO anxious to get him back on its airwaves.
While a slim margin of hope remains for Chavez Jr. and Top Rank to reconcile, all parties are prepared to move on no matter the outcome.
“He’s been where he’s going,” said Top Rank Vice Preside Carl Moretti, of Chavez Jr’s decision to hold out for what he believes is something better to be had. The second-generation former titlist is refusing to sign an extension with Top Rank, who wants to protect its investment.
Top Rank has confirmed that two separate offers were made to Chavez Jr. – a more lucrative offer that includes a proposed extension, and one for less money that would allow him to remain under current contract, which expires in October 2015.
Chavez Jr. is instead holding out for the more lucrative offer without having to extend.
“If we agreed with his decision, we’d both be wrong,” quipped Moretti, indicating that Top Rank would be foolish to allow its hefty investment in the Mexican star to go unprotected.
Chavez Jr. fought just once in 2013, a controversial win over Bryan Vera following a near year-long absence from the ring. The bulk of his inactivity stemmed from a suspension for testing positive for marijuana following his points loss to Martinez in Sept. ’12. Chavez Jr. came dangerously close to knocking out Martinez in the final round after losing all of the previous 11, but wound up with the first loss of his career.
The failed drug test was his second offense – both occurring under the auspices of the Nevada State Athletic Commission – which was the reason for extended suspension.
A fight with Vera was rescheduled several times in 2013, due to Chavez Jr. being grossly out of shape. That personal battle came into play during fight week in late September, when he had to renegotiate the contracted weight after surfacing closer to the light heavyweight division.
The controversy surrounding the weight and the fight itself was enough to prompt a rematch. Chavez Jr. came correct, landing within the contracted 168 lb. super middleweight limit and scoring a clean decision over Vera this past March.
The win was believed to set up a super fight in July, even with concern that it would come amidst a sea of pay-per-view events over a relatively brief stretch. There have been PPV events on the schedule every month since March, with still to come the June 7 showdown between Martinez and Miguel Cotto.
July was particularly problematic, as Golovkin-Chavez Jr. was slated to follow a Showtime PPV event headlined by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a non-title fight versus Erislandy Lara, which will take place on July 12 in Las Vegas.
Should Chavez Jr. balk at the present offer, HBO and Showtime are spared the concern of splitting the audience for back-to-back pay-per-view events. Furthermore, HBO viewers will be treated to Golovkin on premium cable rather than a la carte.
That, however, requires officially moving on and securing a challenger appropriate for HBO World Championship Boxing, all with less than two months to spare. Still, it beats the alternative, which would be not having at a fight at all for which to prepare.
“We are working closely with HBO to come up with the best option for Gennady for an opponent in July who will actually get in the ring with him,” Loeffler revealed, though also highlighting another hurdle to clear. “He is now widely considered the best and most dangerous middleweight; the list of opponents who have turned down a fight with GGG is now much longer than the ones who have agreed to fight him.
“We will continue with plan that has worked so successfully so far, to keep him active and fighting often. ‘GGG’ has done his part by putting on exciting performances every time he gets in the ring. It is this formula that has made him one of the most popular fighters in the sport today with some of the highest ratings not only in the U.S., but on also international TV.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox