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  • Gennady Golovkin still wants big fights and is determined to grow his promotion company—GGG Promotions. Sports Illustrated on the future of Golovkin and his new deal with DAZN.
By Chris Mannix
March 12, 2019

LOS ANGELES — There was never any real reason to believe Gennady Golovkin was finished with boxing, not after the narrowest of losses to Saul Alvarez last September, not with promoters and networks chasing him with eight-figure per fight offers, not with the middleweight division heating up with skilled and marketable contenders.

And yet—you wondered. You wondered why after so many former HBO-connected fighters found new homes, Golovkin remained a free agent. You wondered why with so many middleweight fighters connected to DAZN—the subscriber-based streaming service that ultimately signed Golovkin to a six-fight deal last week—he wasn’t jumping at the chance to get in that mix. You wondered if Golovkin, a month shy of his 37th birthday, had the same passion for the sport he did seven years ago, when he stormed onto the U.S. boxing scene and began clawing his way to the top of it.

Golovkin resurfaced on Wednesday, at a press conference to announce his new deal with DAZN. To his right was John Skipper, the DAZN Executive Chairman who negotiated the deal directly with Golovkin. To his left, Abel Sanchez, his longtime trainer who along with promoter Tom Loeffler will continue to be part of Golovkin’s career. Settling onto a stool, Golovkin, a svelte 173-pounds and back in training camp, explained his decision-making process.

“It’s no secret I had others offers from other companies,” Golovkin said. “Right now I have the best partner that will let me know promote fighters on GGG Promotions and me as a fighter. I was a free agent and I thought DAZN gave me the best platform. I also think DAZN will be the best home for all boxers in the future.”

And the six-fight deal?

“I hope I can do six fights,” Golovkin said. “I feel great. After six fights, I’ll see what I can do, but I have to focus on these six fights.”

Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP

When Golovkin first popped on the U.S. radar, in 2012, against Grzegorz Proksa, in a small casino in upstate New York, he was singularly focused. After years of being avoided in Europe, Golovkin wanted big fights. He was a titleholder who wanted to unify the middleweight division. Today, there is more depth to him. He still wants big fights, but he devotes more thought to his life after boxing. He is determined to grow his fledgling promotional outfit—GGG Promotions, which will get four dates over the next three years on DAZN, as part of the overall deal with Golovkin—and those around him say he is deeply invested in growing boxing in his native Kazakhstan.

“I’ve gained a lot of experience in the last years of my career,” Golovkin said. “I want to share that with fighters who will be working with me on GGG promotions and I think with DAZN we have the right partner to put on the best fights.”

In 2012, Golovkin was the hunter, chasing top opponents and watching, frustratedly, when so many ran away from him. Now, he has become the hunted. Golovkin is still a high-level 160-pounder, but a decision win over Daniel Jacobs and back-to-back decisions against Alvarez have dissolved the aura of invincibility that once enveloped him. Jacobs wants another piece of him. Demetrius Andrade, too. As Golovkin’s popularity has grown, the risk has become worth the reward.

“Youthful and exuberant back then,” Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, said when asked to describe the difference between Golovkin then and now. “Now [he is] more experienced, more stealth. He’s thinking more about the things he does. The great thing about him and always has been is he’s very professional. He’s probably 10-12 pounds over his weight now, so when he comes into camp he’s not abusing his body, and we can focus on working on other things.”

It’s unfair to expect Golovkin to be in his late 30’s what he was in his late 20’s—can anyone, in any walk of life say that?—but over the next few years he will face some stiff tests. He will return to the ring in June against a ranked but likely safe opponent, so not to derail a possible third fight with Alvarez in the fall. But after Alvarez there will be Jacobs, then Andrade, then Alvarez again. Golovkin says he is open to an eventual move to 168-pounds, where elite, DAZN-aligned fighters like Callum Smith and light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol will be waiting.

The final years of Golovkin’s career will be his most challenging.

If nothing else, Golovkin seems ready for it. He said he is eager for another crack at Alvarez (“Of course it is important to me”) while declaring that being the undisputed middleweight champion is no longer a priority. “The idea is not to have all belts possible,” Golovkin said, “but it’s to be best boxer, and sometimes people with belts are not the best boxers.” DAZN is making a big investment in Golovkin, anticipating a string of high-profile fights ahead. As Skipper told a roomful of reporters, “We [were] not going to be able to bring fans the [best] fights without Gennady Golovkin.”

Indeed, the hunter is now the hunted. A new chapter begins.

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