Unwillingness to Fight Gennady Golovkin Has Created a Middleweight Mess

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2016

Unwillingness to step up has created a mess of the middleweight division.
Unwillingness to step up has created a mess of the middleweight division.Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Middleweight is one of boxing's glamour divisions, and it's ruled by one of the sport's most identifiable stars.

And yet, in a couple of weeks, division kingpin Gennady Golovkin, oh he of the three golden belts and highest knockout percentage in division history, will defend his treasure trove against welterweight Kell Brook.

Brook was not the first choice. He wasn't the second or third either. Nope, he was the only guy willing to take the fight once the rest of the division settled under its respective rocks.

Canelo Alvarez is the man who should be standing opposite GGG as the summer begins to give way to the fall, but he decided to skip lunch a day or two per week to drop back to the relative safety of the junior middleweight division.

He'll challenge Liam "Beefy" Smith for the WBO's 154-pound strap a week after GGG puts the way-too-brave Brook into orbit somewhere above London.

Canelo dropped back down in weight to avoid GGG.
Canelo dropped back down in weight to avoid GGG.Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Don't let Oscar De La Hoya fool you either.

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He's a promoter, so it's his job to sell hype, but nobody wanted this fight, and (without disrespect to Smith) the Brit is not the best junior middleweight in the world by any objective measure.

This situation sums up virtually everything wrong in boxing today. It all fits into a nice box with a bright ribbon on top for anyone who wants to take shots at the sport for unnecessarily bleeding itself out.

While the UFC continues to make the best fights available with little dithering around or marinating or any of a thousand other euphemisms for cooling your jets, boxing continues to see its biggest stars excel at talking.

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz did a lot of talking. And then they punched each other in the mouth. A lot. It was glorious violence, and everyone who witnessed it came away wanting more.

Golovkin has seen a good number of foes talk about fighting him. It makes a good soundbyte to tell someone with a camera that you'll gladly step in there with boxing's No.1 boogeyman.

It buys you a bit of street cred.

Canelo did it.

During his in-ring interview after knocking out Amir Khan, he huffed and puffed about having no fear and about how Mexicans don't mess around. Then he brought Mr. Smith to Dallas.

Why Mr. Smith?

Well he has a belt.

But didn't Canelo already have one?


Lest you think the cinnamon-haired star is alone as a smack talker but not walk walker, enter the realms of British middleweight boxing.

Billy Joe Saunders holds the only 160-pound belt not residing in the great boxing nation of Kazakhstan, and he seems to want to fight, well, nobody.

Saunders doesn't seem to want to fight anybody.
Saunders doesn't seem to want to fight anybody.Dave Thompson/Getty Images

He's talked about GGG a few times.

No dice. Money wasn't right.

Fair enough, though it's difficult setting a monetary value for a fight most expect will result in you needing to take meals from a straw for a while.

Golden Boy Vice President Eric Gomez told ESPN.com's Dan Rafael they came calling with a slot on the Canelo-Smith undercard. Take your pick, they said.

We got Gabe Rosado, Willie Monroe Jr. or Curtis Stevens, all winnable fights and a good showcase because we'd like you to face Canelo next.

Those guys are beneath me.


Also conveniently forget that I fought a 17-27-2 fighter just last July.

Come on down, Chris Eubank Jr.

British middleweight champ, brash young buck with a solid pedigree and well known name. You wanna make a name for yourself and rise above domestic level, so it's a perfect match.

This one looked close too. All that was left was for it to be signed, sealed and delivered.

Signed was the apparent problem.

For all their bluster, the Eubanks seemed to have forgotten a pen, or how to sign the name on the dotted line. Either way, you know how this ends.

Here's an idea.

Since both Saunders and Eubank blew off chances to fight GGG, maybe they could come together on a rematch of their own 2014 fight.

Saunders got a deserved win there, but bad blood remains. It sells itself. Shouldn't be hard to make, so long as everyone is reasonable.

Eubank blew his chance at a big payday against GGG.
Eubank blew his chance at a big payday against GGG.Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

And there's the problem.

Per Edward Chaykovsky of Boxing Scene, Eubank wants the fight, but only if he can get a 50-50 split of the purse. Now on what world does that make sense? You might as well ask for the literal moon.

The guy beat you and just won a world title. He dictates the terms. It's really not that difficult to understand how this works. Unless you're spotting the trend here.

Danny Jacobs has a belt, and, like some others, he told Boxing Scene's Keith Idec he'll fight Golovkin. But it has to be for the right price. Can't fault him there, though we've heard that type of stuff before. What makes up the "right" money is very subjective.

But he's stuck in a meaningless and pointless rematch with Sergio Mora. A guy he stopped in two rounds last year and who hasn't done anything recently to earn one title shot, much less two.

So, the best fighter in the division is fighting a welterweight because nobody else would fight him, the lineal champ is moving down in weight to fight The Ring Magazine's No. 8 fighter in his weight class, and the rest of the division is running its mouth and not fighting anyone of consequence.

Welcome to modern boxing.