Whether Canelo Alvarez is standing across the ring from him or not, unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin has every intention of boxing on May 5, and his team has begun working out the logistics for an alternative plan.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has scheduled a meeting on Thursday to consider a request by GGG Promotions -- Golovkin's company run by Tom Loeffler -- for a permit to promote a Golovkin fight on May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, "conditioned on the possible cancellation of the May 5, 2018, boxing event" between GGG and Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), 35, is currently scheduled to fight Alvarez (HBO PPV) in a highly anticipated rematch of the controversial draw they fought to in September, which most thought Golovkin won.
However, Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs), 27, is under a temporary suspension by the Nevada commission, and executive director Bob Bennett has filed a formal complaint against him for doping violations.
Alvarez's suspension is a virtual certainty to be extended beyond May 5 at a commission hearing scheduled for April 18, meaning Golovkin's team is getting things in order for the likelihood that Alvarez will be unavailable.
Alvarez twice tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol in random urine tests conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20. Alvarez claims the positive tests were from eating contaminated beef in Mexico, where that has been a problem for many athletes because clenbuterol is often used by farmers in cattle feed.
Nevada commission rules, however, are clear that an athlete is responsible for what is in his system, whether it is there on purpose or by accident.
"Anyone who booked a plane ticket or who was planning to come to Las Vegas for Cinco de Mayo weekend to see GGG fight don't cancel your ticket because we're planning a GGG fight on May 5 whether it's against Canelo or somebody else."Tom Loeffler, GGG Promotions
This is Alvarez's first offense, which usually nets a one-year suspension, but if he cooperates with the commission, it is within its power to reduce the suspension to six months, which would allow for the rematch with Golovkin to go forward on the Mexican Independence Day weekend in mid-September, when they had their fight last year.
"GGG wants to fight on May 5 in Las Vegas, so in order to do that we have to go through the commission procedure and the official process," Loeffler told ESPN on Monday.
Part of that means moving the fight from the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena to the approximately 16,000-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena for a fight that won't be against a top name.
The fight is likely to remain on HBO PPV, but ticket prices will be dramatically adjusted, Loeffler said.
"Anyone who booked a plane ticket or who was planning to come to Las Vegas for Cinco de Mayo weekend to see GGG fight, don't cancel your ticket, because we're planning a GGG fight on May 5, whether it's against Canelo or somebody else," Loeffler said.
It remains unclear whom Golovkin -- a Kazakhstan native fighting out of Santa Monica, California -- will face in the event that Alvarez receives a lengthier suspension.
"We're weighing all the options right now," Loeffler said. "Obviously, the biggest fight in boxing is GGG and Canelo in their rematch in May. If we can't do it then, GGG wants to stay active, but no one opponent has been selected yet."
Two candidates who have been mentioned are fringe contender Gary "Spike" O'Sullivan (27-2, 19 KOs), 33, of Ireland, who likely was going to fight on May 4 on Golden Boy's ESPN card in Las Vegas, and Mexican junior middleweight prospect Jaime Munguia (28-0, 24 KOs), 21. Munguia, however, is vastly inexperienced and would have to move up in weight, and is no longer being considered.
Middleweight contender Demetrius Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), a former two-time junior middleweight titlist, has said he is ready, willing and able to fight Golovkin on May 5. However, few believe Andrade -- a 30-year-old southpaw and 2008 U.S. Olympian from Providence, Rhode Island -- will get the call because he doesn't have much name recognition, doesn't bring another title to the table or any economic muscle, and he is dangerous -- not to mention that Golovkin has been in training camp for weeks preparing for a right-hander, not a southpaw.
Another potential opponent is Brooklyn, New York-based Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs), 32, a 2008 Olympian from Ukraine who is one of Golovkin's mandatory challengers, though Loeffler said he has not had any contact yet with his team.
On Monday, Derevyanchenko co-promoter Lou DiBella's attorney, Alex Dombroff, sent a letter to the IBF asking it to immediately order the mandatory fight between Golovkin and Derevyanchenko in the event that the Alvarez fight is canceled.
"Derevyanchenko became the mandatory contender in August 2017 -- almost 8 months ago," Dombroff wrote. "Therefore, considering the IBF rules that a reigning champion must make a mandatory defense every nine months, it makes good sense to order that Golovkin's next defense be vs. Derevyanchenko.
"We acknowledged the importance of the bouts between Golovkin and Alvarez -- both last September and the scheduled rematch this May and we never once objected to Derevyanchenko waiting for those bouts to occur. And, while we do believe Alvarez is entitled to due process for the alleged anti-doping violations that he is currently facing, it should not be at the expense of our fighter's career.
"If the Golovkin-Alvarez rematch is, as we suspect, canceled, allowing Golovkin to take a tune-up bout versus someone other than Derevyanchenko [that] opens to the door to a rematch between Golovkin and Alvarez this fall and, thus, Derevyanchenko waiting well over a year -- perhaps in excess of 18 months -- for his rightfully earned mandatory title bout to even be ordered. Such a delay would be detrimental to Derevyanchenko's career at no fault of his own and is not in keeping with the principles of fairness the IBF employs."
Another name that could get the call from Golovkin is super middleweight world titleholder Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs), 26, of Mexico, who many rate as the No. 1 fighter in the world at 168 pounds.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum threw Ramirez's name into the mix on Monday.
"On behalf of Zurdo Ramirez, we would accept a challenge from GGG to fight for Zurdo's super middleweight title," Arum said.
Ramirez would certainly fill the bill of having a top Mexican fighter in the main event on Cinco de Mayo, though Golovkin might find it more appealing to remain at middleweight to defend his crown because his next successful defense would tie him with Bernard Hopkins for the most consecutive middleweight title defenses in boxing history at 20. Ramirez is also a southpaw, and Golovkin has been training for a right-hander.
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