Why Gennady Golovkin should walk away from Golden Boy's offer for Canelo Alvarez rematch

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Depending on the terms of the deal, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin may or may not fight each other again. (AP Photo)

Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya has recently been making the media rounds, beginning with the Golden Boy Promotions-owned Ring Magazine, and is threatening that Canelo Alvarez won’t fight Gennady Golovkin on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas in a bout that could make Alvarez a payday of close to (or even above) $50 million.

In an interview with Ring’s Mike Coppinger, De La Hoya had the gall to suggest that he’s considering Spike O’Sullivan as a potential opponent for Alvarez in lieu of Golovkin.

Good luck making that kind of money versus O’Sullivan, Canelo.

No offense to O’Sullivan, a hard-nosed fighter with a 28-2 record and 20 knockouts, but he’s not nearly as well-known as Golovkin and would be a massive underdog against Alvarez. While an Alvarez-Golovkin rematch could easily generate 1.5 million or more pay-per-view buys, an Alvarez-O’Sullivan bout would struggle to sell 250,000.

In a pay-per-view bout, a large portion of a fighter’s earnings is determined by ticket and pay-per-view revenues, meaning more sales equate to higher purses. So in an attempt to punish Golovkin for being critical of Alvarez and for making what it deems “unreasonable” contract demands, De La Hoya apparently is willing to see Alvarez earn tens of millions less if he chooses to fight O’Sullivan rather than Golovkin in a rematch.

That there is an issue getting the rematch finalized is laughable. In a heavily hyped Sept. 16 fight, Golovkin and Alvarez fought to a split draw that sold 1.3 million on pay-per-view. The bout would have done far more sales had it not had the misfortune of having the Floyd MayweatherConor McGregor boxing match, which sold 4.4 million pay-per-views, three weeks ahead of it.

Golovkin was miffed that Alvarez twice failed doping tests, was forced to pull out of the fight and ultimately was handed a six-month suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Alvarez is not eligible to fight again until August.

The deal signed for the May 5 bout gave Alvarez a 65-35 advantage in revenue split. With all that went against him regarding the May 5 bout that ultimately didn’t happen, Golovkin has sought better terms. And who could blame him?

Even if you buy Alvarez’s argument that his two positive tests for the banned substance Clenbuterol is because he ate contaminated meat while in Mexico, it doesn’t change the fact that it is Alvarez, not Golovkin, who is the negligent party and the one wholly responsible for the bout not going forward on May 5 as scheduled.

Oscar De La Hoya speaks with Tom Loeffler during a news conference at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

De La Hoya’s comments to Ring are ludicrous at every level, particularly when he said, “It’s clear to us that Golovkin doesn’t want to fight Canelo.”

He went on to act as if it has been definitively proven that Alvarez was cleared of intentionally taking Clenbuterol, which is most definitely not the case. But De La Hoya listed taking a hair follicle sample tests, submitting to tests required by the Nevada Athletic Commission and enrolling in anti-doping testing administered by VADA as somehow concessions that Alvarez had made in order to make the fight.

They weren’t, of course.

Nevada regulators asked him to do the hair follicle test because he failed anti-doping tests on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20.

Nevada regulators asked him to submit urine samples for the same reason.

He enrolled in VADA because he was under immense public pressure, particularly after De La Hoya shot off his mouth to TMZ on April 25 and said Alvarez would be tested every day between then and the fight in September.

De La Hoya said that to TMZ with a straight face even though he knew that Alvarez was not being tested at the time.

Golden Boy’s considerable publicity machine has pushed the narrative that by passing the hair follicle test that Alvarez was cleared of any doubt, and that his explanation for the Clenbuterol in his system is that he ate a contaminated steak is the right one.

He may have eaten a contaminated steak. Or, he may have intentionally taken a Clenbuterol pill seeking to gain an edge. The problem is that there is no test that can definitively prove either one way or another. Both hair follicle testing and urine testing can show the presence of Clenbuterol, which is banned at all times by the World Anti-Doping Agency, in one’s system. Neither test can determine how it got into one’s body.

In a statement provided to Yahoo Sports on the efficacy of hair follicle testing to determine whether Clenbuterol was taken intentionally or inadvertently, the United States Anti-Doping Agency said:

“While hair and other types of analyses may provide additional evidence in anti-doping cases, there aren’t any analyses currently available that can definitively distinguish between intentional and unintentional clenbuterol use. This is why it’s so important to pair analytical evidence with non-analytical evidence, gathered through a thorough investigation, to establish whether or not the substance was ingested intentionally.”

So there aren’t any type of tests which can show with reliability that Alvarez wound up with Clenbuterol in his system because he ate a tainted steak.

Yet, Ring allowed Alvarez to keep its middleweight title despite the positive tests even though its policy states, “THE RING will remove from its ratings any rated boxer – including a champion – if such boxer at some point undergoes drug testing and that boxer tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug.”

The point of all of this is that Alvarez would have had his 65-35 split – and let’s be honest, this was a huge failure by Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler in not getting better terms for his fighter in the first place – had he not failed two drug tests and been forced to withdraw from the fight.

He cost himself millions, but he also cost Golovkin millions. He hasn’t proven he didn’t intentionally cheat, but he’s been portrayed as a victim by Golden Boy.

Golovkin doesn’t need this. He should walk away. Let Alvarez fight O’Sullivan, or Billy Joe Saunders or Daniel Jacobs or Jermall Charlo. It’s going to be difficult to make bouts with Saunders and Charlo, who is advised by Al Haymon, who has a bitter rivalry with De La Hoya and Golden Boy.

None of those fights would come anywhere close to the numbers that an Alvarez-Golovkin rematch would do. When Alvarez fought Liam Smith, the pay-per-view did 300,000. That would be a home run for a fight with O’Sullivan.

So Golovkin has more leverage in this than he thinks, and Alvarez still can’t adequately explain the banned substance in his system.

Golovkin should also realize who his friends are. Alvarez had been feuding with WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman and refused to fight for the WBC belt when he faced Golovkin last year. Golovkin went to Mexico City after the fight to help Sulaiman. How has Sulaiman repaid him? By siding with Alvarez, his countryman, and suggesting that Golovkin take the fight and the 65-35 split. He said this despite Golovkin’s help and despite it being none of his business and he having no role in the negotiations.

Loeffler should set a date for a deal with Alvarez and if it isn’t completed by his deadline, immediately pivot to Sergey Derevyanchenko, who is the mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s IBF belt.

It will be for far less money, but he’ll have his integrity intact.

The same can’t be said for a number of others in this mess.

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