Who the hell is Gennady Golovkin going to fight on April 23, the (tentative) date of his return to HBO airwaves?
Golovkin's team would like to go straight into a fight with Canelo Alvarez on May 7, but this does not seem likely. Alvarez and Golden Boy have given zero indication that they want to do that fight so quickly, and there is still lingering doubt that they really want to do it this year at all. Though Canelo is also having a tough time finding an opponent for his date, a fight with Golovkin, while seemingly making all the sense in the world, probably isn't going to happen. If it does, that's great for everyone, obviously, and the horror show listed below won't matter.
Golovkin (34-0, 31 KO) has a deal in place to face Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KO) later this year, though with Canelo continuing to deny he'll fight over 155 pounds, that, too, is probably still somewhat up in the air.
Billy Joe Saunders isn't interested. Tureano Johnson is injured. And almost everyone else is either with Al Haymon, thus out of the running, or they've already been taken care of in the last few years by Golovkin.
Here are the fighters who are not in the running:
- Billy Joe Saunders, though this could change. If Golovkin and K2 become really desperate, they could offer Saunders a frankly obscene amount of money to be led to the slaughter. But Saunders and promoter Frank Warren aren't dumb, and they probably realize that the long game, where Saunders establishes himself with the WBO title, likely means they can make more money than just cashing out against Golovkin and then trying to stage some sort of comeback after.
- Tureano Johnson, who as mentioned before is injured. He seemed to be the safety option for Golovkin, as Johnson was featured on the 10/17 HBO PPV undercard for no particularly good reason other than to audition for a GGG fight this spring.
- Chris Eubank Jr, who is set to face Nick Blackwell on March 5 for the British middleweight title.
- Daniel Jacobs, who is with Al Haymon. Jacobs holds the bogus version of one of the titles held by Golovkin, and this is a really fun idea, but it's not happening.
- Peter Quillin, also with Al Haymon and not particularly marketable right now, anyway, given that Jacobs finished him off in half a round.
- Prospect Dominic Wade isn't ready, and he's also with Al Haymon. There are several other prospects (Ryōta Murata, Arif Magomedov, Antoine Douglas, Ievgen Khytrov) who are not ready to face Golovkin, either, but could in theory, I suppose.
- Junior middleweights who are with Haymon: Erislandy Lara, Jermall and Jermell Charlo, Austin Trout, Julian Williams.
Already beaten by Golovkin: David Lemieux, Willie Monroe Jr, Gabriel Rosado, Daniel Geale, Curtis Stevens, Marco Antonio Rubio.
This doesn't seem viable on paper, as Lee (34-3-1, 24 KO) lost his last fight to Saunders on December 19, and hasn't actually won a fight since 2014, but the pickings are slim, and Lee, 31, is at least known. This would have to be sold as a "styles make fights" matchup, with an attempt to explain that Lee's counter punching power is better suited to battle Golovkin than it was to deal with Saunders. Golovkin does lead action, so in some way that is true, but it's still not a very good fight. That said, we're not going to get a very good fight out of this, it doesn't appear, so this might actually be the best option.
Might as well mention him, even though it's not happening. It was widely expected that Cotto would face Canelo Alvarez in a 5/7 rematch, but it now appears as though Cotto is angling for a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, who hasn't fought in two years, is 41 years old, and has never weighed over 144½ pounds on the scales. Cotto-Marquez is an odd idea but nobody seems to mind it so far, so whatever, why not? At any rate, Cotto is not going to go get beaten up by a bigger, stronger, younger Golovkin. There's no incentive for him.
Heiland (26-4-2, 14 KO) scored a 2014 win over Matthew Macklin that was considered something of an upset, but only fought once last year at home in Argentina, not exactly capitalizing on anything. But while that means you can argue Heiland's career stalled a bit, it also means that he's kept himself in the mix for a fight like this one. Heiland, 28, doesn't really have a whole lot to lose by fighting Golovkin, and that's been a chief reason to fight Golovkin for a handful of fighters recently.
Soro (27-1-1, 17 KO) is the current European middleweight champion, beating Emanuele Blandamura last June, a month and change after "upsetting" Glen Tapia in a junior middleweight fight in Newark. Soro, 28, could choose to protect his current status, but like Heiland has nothing to really lose by facing Golovkin. He can get a payday and go right back to this same level with no trouble.
Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KO) is a junior middleweight by trade, but again, pickings are pretty slim right now. Hatley gained some notoriety with a dominant stoppage win over Anthony Mundine last November in Australia, his ninth straight victory. He doesn't have any real name value in the United States right now, but then neither did Willie Monroe Jr when he fought Golovkin.
It's a little grim out there right now. The obvious best fight is Canelo. And Golovkin is the obvious best fight for Golovkin. Maybe that will get made -- maybe both sides will find the other options out there so unappealing to the general public that they'll have no choice but to make the deal for May 7. But if not, they're both fighting for scraps right now.