Accustomed to fighting three times a year during the height of his middleweight reign, Gennady Golovkin could face the longest stretch without a ring appearance if a replacement for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is not found soon.
Golovkin and Alvarez were scheduled to meet in a rematch May 5 in Las Vegas. Alvarez withdrew from the bout two weeks ago after testing positive for a performance-enhancement substance in his native Mexico that resulted in a suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Alvarez was the marquee opponent Golovkin, 36, needed to enhance a profile that, although respected by the sport’s hard-core followers, still had not generated crossover acceptance.
Golovkin found the ideal platform last September, when he landed his first ring date with Alvarez for Golovkin’s 19th title defense. Golovkin retained his multiple middleweight belts with a disputed split draw in a bout where the majority of fans and experts saw him as the winner.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Knowing that he continued to hold the promotional leverage, Alvarez did not agree to the immediate rematch fans demanded until February. Again, the conditions for the second bout were primarily under Alvarez’s terms, such as fight location and his name as challenger appearing first on the promotional literature.
Now with Alvarez removed from Golovkin’s direct fight plan, the native of Kazakhstan and his team want to save the May 5 date. But, because Golovkin holds three major sanctioning body titles, promoters of middleweights with mandatory challenger status are demanding that the alphabet soups force Golovkin into a obligatory title defense.
“There have been a lot of opponents who have been under consideration,” Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler said recently. “There are so many different factors involved. Obviously, it’s short notice now if we’re going to fight in a month so we’ve got to have all the moving parts come together.”
Despite the limited time given to prepare for a new opponent, Golovkin accepts the circumstances. He continues to train after Alvarez withdrew with the understanding of a likely replacement. If he fights and wins on May 5, Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) will tie Bernard Hopkins’ record for most successful title defenses at 20.
“I’m a professional athlete, I know my job, I know my stuff,” Golovkin said. “It’s no problem to me.”
Around the ring
▪ One of boxing’s longest partnerships has ended.
Trainer Freddie Roach, who guided Manny Pacquiao through his rise to pound-for-pound supremacy, will not work the eight-division world champion’s next fight against Lucas Matthysse on July 15. Pacquiao dismissed Roach last week, ending their 15-year association.
“Manny and I had a great run for 15 years — longer than most marriages and certainly a rarity for boxing,” Roach said in a statement. “I wish Manny nothing but the best. I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t hurt that he didn’t contact me personally about his decision, but the great times we enjoyed together far outweigh that.”
Pacquiao replaced Roach as lead trainer with longtime cornermen Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez and Raides “Nonoy” Neri.
▪ Seven months after losing a unanimous decision against Mikey Garcia, four-division world champion Adrien Broner will face Jessie Vargas on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“I was upset,” Broner said of his career status following the Garcia fight. “At the end of the day, nobody fixes my problems but me.”
Broner (33-3, 24 KOs) prepared for the Vargas bout in West Palm Beach under new trainer Kevin Cunningham.