If Gennady Golovkin cared only for money, the mere fact that he is stepping into the ring on Saturday night would be an act of stupidity.

For Golovkin, the Kazakhstan fighter known as “GGG,” is putting a whole lot more than the WBA and WBC world middleweight title belts on the line when he fights Vanes Martirosyan. He will be taking a financial risk to the tune of $28 million.

But Golovkin isn’t stupid, he just has priorities that are different from most of the money-hungry masses in the fight game.

“I do not think so much about the business side of it,” Golovkin told reporters on Wednesday. “I suggest (people) change their frame of mind about money. Money is not the most important thing. This is (sports).”

Golovkin’s spring plans were upturned when Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol in February and thereby caused their scheduled May 5 rematch to be scrapped, for now at least.

Had Golovkin sat tight until September and waited for Alvarez to serve out his six-month ban from the Nevada Athletic Commission, Golovkin could have guaranteed himself a payday that is expected to land at around $30 million, by the time pay per view revenues are calculated. That pair fought to a controversial draw last September and a repeat battle would be arguably boxing’s biggest fight of the year.

Instead, he decided that having completed so much of training camp already before Alvarez’s indiscretion was unearthed, that he wanted to “remain active.” Yet for his bout with Martirosyan, who will be buoyed by intense support from Los Angeles’ Armenian community, he will receive an estimated $2 million and certainly no greater than $3 million, as the fight will be shown on regular HBO and not pay per view.

And, because this is boxing, simply taking part comes with an inherent risk.

“It is a huge financial risk,” Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler told USA TODAY Sports. “The safe thing would have been to go to September and reschedule the fight. But GGG is not that type of guy. He feels he shouldn’t be penalized with not fighting because his opponent got suspended.

“But he knows that if he doesn’t win on May 5 then there is no Canelo fight. One punch could change his career.”

Vanes Martirosyan (R) and Gennady Golovkin pose during a media workout at the Glendale Fighting Club
Vanes Martirosyan (R) and Gennady Golovkin pose during a media workout at the Glendale Fighting Club
In truth, it is hard to find any kind of legitimate reason why Martirosyan should become the man to inflict Golovkin’s first defeat as a professional. The challenger is moving up in weight, having boxed his entire career at junior middleweight. Martirosyan has not fought for two years, his last outing coming in a May 2016 defeat to Erislandy Lara. His pro record is 36-3-1 but lacks a big-name victory.

“People can say what they want about the fight,” said Martirosyan, who is trained by Ronda Rousey’s much-maligned former coach Edmond Tarverdyan. “I know that I can give him a lot more trouble that people expect, and a lot more trouble than other people he has fought.”

Yet the unspoken fear in the Golovkin promotional camp has less to do with the prospect of a shock defeat and more around the possibility that their boxer could suffer some kind of unfortunate mishap that would rule him out beyond September — such as a deep cut requiring stitches or a hand injury.

However, once Golovkin’s mind was made up, that was that.

“If you have followed Gennady’s career you will realize that it is always about the sport for him,” his coach Abel Sanchez said. “If money comes with it that is good, but it is boxing first.”

There are significant differences between Golovkin and many of today’s crop of fighters, several of whom have copied the Floyd Mayweather approach of money-first, often at the expense of entertainment and competitive (or risky) fights.

Yet, if all goes to plan and the challenge of Martirosyan is handled as comfortably as expected, without injury or drama, then Golovkin may find himself in an ideal position. Not only will he have had a valuable tune-up and gained some extra money, he will have shown the Alvarez camp that he is not obsessed over the rematch at the expense of all else, which may assist in contract negotiations.

“I just want to fight,” Golovkin said, and this weekend he will, with an approach that is refreshing for the sport, even if it somewhat less than financially prudent.

Source: Martin Rogers|| USA Today