In a fair world, Gennady Golovkin would have fought for the lineal middleweight championship near the end of 2013, or in the first half of 2014 at the latest. Following his Round 3 KO of Matthew Macklin June 2013, GGG was one of the sport’s hottest fighters and unquestionably the No. 1 contender to Sergio Martinez’s title.
But this is not a fair world we live in, and the boxing business can be particularly unfair. The aging Martinez wanted a last big payday, so he chose Miguel Cotto. Cotto had lost two of his last three bouts and had never even fought at middleweight, so he wasn’t exactly a worthy challenger for Martinez’s championship. But he was one of the sport’s biggest names and capable of headlining a pay-per-view and selling out Madison Square Garden. So he got the fight instead of Golovkin. Cotto turned in one of the great performances of his career, knocking down Martinez three times in Round 1 and finally stopping him in the 10th.
In a fair world, Golovkin would have been next in line to face the new champion. Instead, Cotto fought Daniel Geale, who Golovkin had already knocked out. Then, in November 2015, he faced Saul Alvarez. The lineal middleweight title was up for grabs, but the bout was contested at a catchweight of 155 pounds.
Alvarez had never campaigned at middleweight, but from a business standpoint, he was tough to criticize as an opponent. With Floyd Mayweather in retirement, he was the biggest name in the sport. He was the biggest Mexican star of his generation and Cotto has been the biggest star from Puerto Rico, and few fights sell better than Mexico vs. Puerto Rico.
But when Alvarez defeated Cotto, there was no good excuse for him not to face Golovkin next, who had now been waiting between three and four years for his shot. Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya famously commented that the fight “needed more time to marinate,” but that was cynical. The fight was already the biggest possible fight in the sport. The passage of time merely pushed Golovkin closer to 40.
Alvarez has fought three fights since defeating Cotto. Saturday night he treated Julio Cesar Chavez like a punching bag on legs, en route to a 12-round shutout on the cards. But following that fight, the boxing world finally got the announcement we have been waiting over a year for–Alvarez will face Golovkin on September 16 in Las Vegas. That’s Mexican Independence Day Weekend. It’s going to be a huge fight.
At this point, Golovkin has collected the WBA, IBF and WBC straps at 160 pounds. But the only title that really matters is the one that Alvarez still holds–the lineal crown. In this case, it stretches back to Bernard Hopkins’ great march to unify the belts at the turn of the century.