The wait is nearly over. It feels like we haven't seen Gennady Golovkin in ages. In reality, it's only been 5 months, but because the Kazakhstani fighter known to the boxing world as GGG fights like a man possessed and fills his brawls with dramatic knockouts, his absence leaves a palpable void in the sport. In the time he's been gone, one of the other most exciting fighters in boxing, David Lemieux, has been working hard to fill the drama void Golovkin inevitably leaves in his wake. This Saturday, we'll get to see these masters of action clash in what could easily become a fight of the year candidate.
Saturday marks GGG's pay-per-view debut vs. Lemieux. There seems to be consensus among those in the know that the event will bring in around 200 to 400 thousand buys. If it did a tenth of that it would still likely outdo the numbers Sugar Shane Mosley did against a bloated and long over-the-hill Ricardo Mayorga in August. But maybe the pundits are undervaluing just how big the middleweight unification bout will be.
Recently, Apple (you know, the most valuable company on earth, renown for its refined products and marketing genius) debuted a new ad for its sports friendly watch. Who was their latest choice for a spokesperson? A silent, shadowing-boxing GGG, that's who. It was a rather surprising and incredible win for GGG and boxing more generally. Apple has never used a boxer to advertise its products (at least not that I could find). The selection legitimatizes GGG's star status in the sport and may even translate into higher pay-per-view buys on Saturday.
Many have been asking who has the most to lose in the other middleweight matchup of the quarter, between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez. But few are asking that of this fight. It should be clear that between GGG and Lemieux, hell, amongst all four men, GGG has the most lose. Cotto is a guaranteed first-ballot hall of famer with millions in the bank and a loyal following. Win or lose, his money, legacy, and popularity won't skyrocket or plummet. Canelo Alvarez, with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s coup de grâce, is the most popular Mexican fighter today, beloved for his action style, good looks, and willingness to take on all comers. Win or lose he'll maintain his top tier status in Mexico, with numerous lucrative opportunities immediately available to him. Lemieux is a top draw in his home country of Canada. He has a lot to gain, and little to lose.
GGG is uniquely positioned. He currently holds an aura of invincibility that is as beneficial to him at the negotiating table as it is in fights. He's on the cusp of becoming a PPV star. Even if he does great numbers, a loss now would undoubtedly set him back farther from his goals than the other middleweights. Moreover, if GGG wants to get anywhere close to his trainer's goal of becoming a top three middleweight of all time, he needs to add Lemieux, Cotto, Canelo, and many other to his resume. In short, GGG has the most to lose because he's not as established as Cotto or Canelo, but his potential stardom is much higher than any of his middleweight contemporaries.
And you can bet he is keenly aware of these realities. GGG has sad it multiple times:
"I like fight."
But on Saturday, he'll be fighting his ass off for more than the love of the fight itself. A dream-like future is in the balance. You can bet he won't let that dream go without one hell of a drama show. Bet your money on it.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.