In front of a sold out crowd in the famous Madison Square Garden, “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin took control and pounded his way to a TKO victory against his most formidable foe to date. The challenger was hard-hitting IBF champion David Lemieux and the win gave Triple G his IBF strap.
Bernard Hopkins is the only boxer to ever hold all four championship belts in a single weight-class at the same time and it just so happens it was at the middleweight level. Triple G is aiming to be the second such boxer. He’s emphatically stated that he won’t leave the division until he unifies the 160 class and that’s a great goal and another bright light for boxing. With so many “champions” and added belts that otherwise dilute the definition of the word, it can be hard to unequivocally label the undisputed champion unless your name is Floyd Mayweather, who didn’t need all four belts to earn that title.
Unifying the division can also be a challenge, if not impossible to do at times in today’s boxing political climate. Often times a champion won’t be able to face another within his division due to conflicting television contractual agreements. The most obvious example has been played out over the last two years with Sergey Kovalev holding three of the four titles and a contract with HBO while the other champion Adonis Stevenson is with Showtime.
Beyond the obvious advantage to accurately labeling an undisputed champion, the path towards recognition means that the best are fighting the best which at times has also lacked in the sport. The boxing organizations WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF that name the champions have had limited discussions with the goal of mandating each other’s champions into a fight. On rare occasion the number one contender with one organization also holds a belt with the other and by default will get his opportunity at facing the other champion.
This just happens to be the case with Triple G. He beat Marco Antonio Rubio last year to gain the WBC interim title. After a period of time or defenses, the interim title holder is awarded the chance to fight the “full” champion which is exactly what Triple G wants. The current title holder is Miguel Cotto who defeated Sergio Martiniz in 2014. Cotto was granted an exception to pass on Triple G in order to have a PPV fight of his own against Canelo Alvarez who is closer to Cotto’s weight and also a boxing star. Cotto, although middleweight champion, has never fought at 160lbs. His previous two fights and upcoming fight is at a catch-weight.
Triple G has already stated that he won’t and doesn’t have to come down in weight when he gets the opportunity at the winner. Cotto for his part has said that nobody will force him into any undesirable fight’s and that he has no intention of actually fighting at 160lbs. Should Cotto defeat Canelo, he’ll have 15 days to decide whether to face Triple G or avoid him and vacate the title. Triple G would rather fight for it and put on a good show for his fans as he always tells us with a boyish grin.
Canelo Alvarez to his credit has never backed down from a challenge. He fought tough competition when he didn’t have to and says he intends to continue to do so. This is why some boxing fans are clamoring for a Canelo victory and a subsequent fight with Triple G. The winner will be the biggest star inside the sport outside of Manny Pacquiao who says he intends to retire before next summer to focus on his Senate ambitions in the Philippines.
The sole remaining champion in the division is Andy Lee of Ireland. He’s due to defend his title in the Great Britain this winter against Billy Joe Saunders. It should be no trouble arranging a fight with the winner and Triple G. Actually, that fight could be quite big in London as a PPV. It’s always good to see a world champion actually headline in multiple big fight markets. Triple G has yet to headline in Las Vegas though selling out Madison Square Garden is a big accomplishment on the path to an eventual Vegas showcase. Floyd Mayweather, for all his victories, elected to avoid the biggest media market in the world and instead stayed in Vegas for the majority of his career. This again highlight’s the fresh look Triple G is brining to the sport. A world tour of 21 consecutive knockouts and counting could soon be in a city near you.