By Jake Donovan
After having spent the greater part of his record-tying middleweight title reign on a campaign theme of “all the belts,” it seems that alphabet hardware is no longer on the list of priorities for Gennady Golovkin.
Make no mistake, the former unified middleweight titlist will gladly accept the challenge of any of the division’s current claimants—including a lucrative third showdown with World 160-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. But the next six fights he will spend on DAZN will have less to do with the belt at stake than how those fights can redefine his legacy.
“The idea is to not have all of the belts possible, but to be the best (middleweight),” Golovkin (38-1-1, 34KOs) stated during a press conference to formally announce his three-year, six-fight with DAZN on Monday in Los Angeles. “People sometimes mistake fighters with the belts as being the best.”
It’s a far cry from the days when Golovkin and his team proudly pursued any middleweight with a major title during an eight year run with at least one alphabet strap around his waist. He managed to get a hold of all but the WBO title over that stretch, before relinquishing the IBF title last summer shortly before losing all remaining belts to Alvarez in their rematch last September.
Their high-profile sequel—which left Golovkin with 20 successful title defenses, tied with Bernard Hopkins for the all-time middleweight mark—was the last event to run on HBO’s Pay-Per-View arm, with the network bowing out of the boxing business altogether by year’s end.
Golovkin hasn’t fought since then, and has in fact spent the past several months mulling offers from DAZN, ESPN and PBC (the primary content provider for Showtime and Fox Sports). The 2004 Olympic Silver medalist from Kazakhstan—who turns 37 in April—ultimately settled on DAZN, given it’s where most of the best middleweights reside.
It also happens to be the platform home to middleweight peers Alvarez (lineal/WBC/WBA), Daniel Jacobs (IBF) and Demetrius Andrade (WBO). Alvarez and Jacobs are set to square off on May 4, with the winner very likely to head into a September date with Golovkin, whose own ring return is targeted for June.
Andrade—also slated for a June return, possibly in his Providence (RI) hometown—will of course lobby for inclusion in that mix as well.
Golovkin—who is 0-1-1 with Alvarez and whom defeated Jacobs in March ‘17—is eager to face all three, but wants to make clear that the notoriety of such fights far exceeds whatever belt may or may not be at stake.
“Right now, people understand… just because you have belts, doesn’t mean you are the best fighter,” Golovkin explained in a video interview with BoxingScene.com’s Rahim Davies, noting how he gave up a belt just to keep alive his rematch with Alvarez in lieu of a mandatory title defense versus Sergey Derevyanchneko. “I lose my IBF belt, how; just nobody understands how.
“I don’t just want to stay with belts, I want to (fight) real champions.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox