But this much is clear: it’s still a difficult task to get the other blue-chip 160-pounders in the ring with “GGG.” However, Loeffler points out, “It’s actually gotten easier in the sense that HBO has definitely made a financial commitment to Gennady’s career, so now we can offer a lot more money to the opponents for Gennady then we were able to before. At the same time, it’s still interesting how fighters are coming up with creative reasons why they can’t fight him.
“[Former IBF middleweight titlist] Daniel Geale, they said that they wouldn’t be able to be shown on Australian television [pay-per-view], so they wouldn’t be able to take the fight in April and obviously, [recognized middleweight champion] Sergio Martinez is fighting [Miguel] Cotto, so you can’t fault him. But I think the only way Gennady can prove he’s the best middleweight in the word - which we’ve been saying for the last couple years - is for other fighters, other champions to get in the ring and at this point, it’s still hard to give them an incentive to do that.”
There’s an impressive list of would-be Golovkin opponents who have yet to take the bait. There is Martin Murray, for instance.
“Murray has a couple of issues,” explained Loeffler from his offices in Santa Monica. “From my understanding, he still can’t get a visa to the United States and that would make the most sense to put that fight over here but we did offer a fight last fall to Murray, which they pretty much turned down and then we offered the fight in Monte Carlo, the fight Gennady took against Adama. We offered that fight to Murray and it would’ve been absolutely no problem for him to go up there but he turned it down at that point too. Then the plan was for him to be on the co-feature and potentially fight in a future fight. As of right now, we haven’t gotten any firm commitment from the Murray camp to fight Gennady.”
As for IBF middleweight titlist Felix Sturm, who once paid a pretty penny to avoid Golovkin when he was mandatory challenger for the WBA belt he once held (http://www.boxingscene.com/oner-explains-details-sturm-paying-avoid-golovkin--61851), Loeffler chuckled softly before stating, “It seems pretty clear to me...I mean, Felix won a world title back. He’s now got the IBF title, so he’s a world champion and he can fight in Germany and defend his title. I’ve just never gotten the sense [Sturm wanted that fight] definitely when Gennady was the mandatory with the WBA when the fight could’ve easily been made because Gennady would’ve basically accepted any financial condition in order to get in the ring with [Sturm] at the time and when Sturm lost to Geale and the WBA mandated Geale to fight him as their mandatory and Geale ended up vacating the title.
“So I just don’t see any realistic possibility that Felix will get in the ring with Gennady unless the money is so great. If Gennady becomes a pay-per-view, household name over here in the States and then we could offer a large financial package. Then maybe it might work like when he got the fight with Oscar De la Hoya. But other than that, I don’t see any possibility of it.”
A couple of weeks ago, Erislandy Lara, the respected junior middleweight champion, publicly called out Golovkin on Twitter. The only problem is Lara is represented by Golden Boy Promotions, which, of course, was embargoed by HBO last year. Was this simple 140-character grandstanding by the Cuban and his handlers?
“I think it’s becoming popular for fighters to call out Gennady and the more popularity that Gennady has, the more people want to have their name linked to him and all of a sudden, there’s a big discussion over it. But when I said he wasn’t ‘on the radar’ - he was never on the HBO approved list and HBO is our biggest strategic partner. So we have to follow their guideline as to who they would approve. So he was never on that list and then Gennady, for some reason last year, had this stigma about only fighting junior middleweights, which I fully disagree with because those were the only fighters - [Gabe] Rosado and [Nobuhiro] Ishida - who were willing to get in the ring at that particular time with him. There’s really no disrespect to Lara; he’s a great guy. I think he’s a qualified fighter in terms of being a top contender at junior middleweight but it’s not a real possibility if it’s not on the approved HBO list,” explained Loeffler.
So does the same apply to WBO titlist Peter Quillin, who’s also under the Golden Boy/Showtime banner?
Loeffler says, “Quillin’s a little bit of a different story; it would be challenging. I’ve reached out to HBO and I’ve told them that one of Gennady’s goals is to unify the titles and since Quillin has a world title, I think that would be something that maybe down the road, towards the fall or by next year, HBO might be in a position where we can try and get them to approve Quillin as a unification fight. But right now, for the April show, he wasn’t on the list either.”
Regardless of these issues, expect Golovkin to fight four times in 2014, just as he did last year.
“Absolutely, Gennady’s given us the mandate that he wants to stay busy and this April 26th fight will be the second fight of the year. Then we’re looking at a fight in the summertime, probably in July for him and then if everything goes the right way for April and July, then another fight in the fall somewhere in the November time frame,” said Loeffler, mapping things out. “So Gennady’s always focused on his opponent and the date in front of him. It’s my job because it’s so difficult to get fighters in the ring with him, to plan ahead of time. And that’s would be the plan as of now.”
For the foreseeable future you can expect the 31-year-old Golovkin to fight more often than the normal HBO fighter as he is willing to take stay-busy-type bouts in Europe. Loeffler makes it clear though, “It’s not only Monte Carlo; Monte Carlo’s been a great home, our second home for Gennady to fight internationally. But whether his fights happen in Germany or in the UK or in the Russian-speaking countries, Gennady’s up for the challenge and that’s really been the goal: to bring back the definition of ‘world champion,’ not just a local champion or state champion, where one person only fights in one city or in one state or in one country even. Gennady…if there’s a great middleweight from Japan - and I hear Top Rank signed a very promising middleweight [Ryota Murata] that’s becoming popular in Japan - I mean, he would go to Tokyo and fight in the Tokyo Dome. I think that’s the thing that’s lacking in the fights these days.
“If they don’t fight in the U.S. or HBO doesn’t have a date for them, the fighters and the promoters and their managers will wait till they get a date, whereas Gennady, he wants to stay active and with my experience with the international fights, we need to find other avenues to keep him active and that’s what we’ve been able to do.”
But till Golovkin has the scalp of a Martinez, Cotto or unifies the middleweight division, there will be naysayers. And perhaps they are justified to a certain degree given the fact that right now, his reputation far exceeds his actual résumé.
“Well, it’s funny because there’s still critics. I don’t know how they really come up with their rationale about Gennady’s level of opposition and especially when it’s clear that we’re willing to fight the best guys out there. We’ve made it clear that if people think that Sergio Martinez is the lineal champion, then he’d be number one on our hit list. I understand the financial situation for him to fight Cotto. It’s a good situation for him but then after that fight, I don’t really see a reason why he wouldn’t - if he wants to prove he’s the best middleweight - why he wouldn’t want to fight Gennady after the Cotto fight if he wins it?
“But whoever wins that fight, then it would make sense to unify with Gennady. But our game plan was instead of calling out specific fighters but to keep busy, keep active. HBO’s giving him the dates and the financial backing and if we can’t get the big names in the ring with him, Gennady himself has basically become the biggest name in the middleweight division and the [television] ratings prove that. He had the third highest rating last year and we expect now for him to build on that and expect him to become one of the biggest names in boxing this year.”
Anyone remember that scene in “Airplane” in which the passengers were told not to panic when asked if anyone knew how to fly a plane? Well, that’s what Twitter represented as light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson announced on his Instagram page that he had signed on with the influential Al Haymon. Immediately, everyone jumped to conclusions that Stevenson, instead of facing Sergey Kovalev later this year on HBO, would instead perhaps face Bernard Hopkins on Showtime.
Sources say an agreement was in place that would have seen Kovalev and Stevenson face each other in mid-September if they came out victorious in their upcoming HBO appointments on March 29th and May 24th, respectively. Now, does the presence of Haymon change this equation? Most of Haymon’s clients earn their money at Showtime although Edwin Rodriguez did face Andre Ward on HBO back in November. Stevenson is promoted by GYM and Yvon Michel (@yvonmichelGYM) tweeted out on Tuesday night as the news broke of Stevenson hooking up with Haymon:
“Welcome to the #1 manager in the world, Al Haymon, into @AdonisSuperman team!! A great addition to Sugar, Tiger and Jonathan!@HBOboxing”
It should be an interesting next few days to see how things play out. But as one boxing insider pointed out, you don’t sign with anyone else if you’ve already got the fight you wanted. Hadn’t Stevenson made it clear it he wanted to face Hopkins?
Here’s this week’s Presidents Day edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly: