Gennady Golovkin gets down to business with DAZN, ‘Sometimes people with belts are not the best boxers’
LOS ANGELES – It had been awhile since Gennady “GGG” Golovkin made himself available to give his side of the story. Over the past few months, Golovkin’s silence turned curiosity into speculation among those wondering what’s next for the former unified middleweight champion in the post-HBO era.
“I was a free agent and I thought DAZN gave me the best platform,” Golovkin said at the press conference on Monday at the Conga Room, formally announcing the six-fight deal he signed with DAZN last Friday. “I also think DAZN will be the best home for all boxers in the future.
“It’s no secret I had others offers from other companies. Right now I have the best partner that will let me promote fighters on GGG Promotions and (have) me as a fighter.”
Golovkin, who turns 37 next month, carefully hatched what will presumably be the final phase of his accomplished career during his recent absence, which was extended due to the birth of his second son. Though it was no surprise Golovkin ended up signing with DAZN, given recent reports and the streaming platform already having a bulk of the top middleweights under contract, the tone “GGG” gave during the announcement was different than any other presser.
Golovkin elected to speak Russian for the entire proceeding, which automatically deleted any of the English catchphrases that had pandered to the media and aided his rise to fame the past few years. Instead, there was a serious tone with Golovkin and even a newfound sense of reality where we learned old goals like completely unifying the division are no longer the main objective for the former unified middleweight champion.
“People understand a lot of politics about all the belts,” Golovkin said when asked if he’d like to still unify all four middleweight titles. “The idea is not to have all belts possible, but it’s to be best boxer, and sometimes people with belts are not the best boxers.”
Coming off his first and only defeat last September, Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) is preparing to come back in June against an opponent to be named and at a venue yet to be determined. But the deal ensures he fight twice a year for the next three years. The first fight on the new platform is expected to be a showcase, but with a big middleweight fight to be fought on May 4th – a unification between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (WBA/WBC/RING) and Danny Jacobs (IBF) – Gennady will be positioned for the winner in the fall.
Golovkin mentioned only wanting ‘important fights’ for the duration of this new deal with DAZN and, for the first time in a long time, expressed some interest in moving up to super middleweight in order to find one. But when specifically asked what he wanted to gain in the rest of his boxing career, Golovkin reiterated the other part of the plan.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience in the last years of my career,” Golovkin explained. “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 p34artner to put on the best fights.”
Tied to the hip with Golovkin during the presser was John Skipper, the executive chairman of Perform Group, a company that launched DAZN in August 2016. The streaming service recently became available in the U.S. in September 2018 and since then they’ve been acquiring exclusive talent hand over fist.
“We have a clear agenda at DAZN to bring fans the best fights for affordable subscription price,” Skipper said in his opening remarks. “We’re are not going to be able to bring fans the fights without Gennady Golovkin. He was a key element of what we’re going to be which is to be the premiere destination for fight fans. There was very little question in my mind that this is a signing we needed to make.”
Skipper, a longtime ESPN exec and eventual President of the company until late 2017, spoke with The Ring after the presser to shed some light on Golovkin’s desires in the negotiations with DAZN.
“I think it was critical,” answered Skipper, when asked about Golovkin’s investment into GGG Promotions. “I believe, in negotiations it’s better if both parties can win, and for Gennady it was very important in terms of his thinking about post-fighting that he do something that will be culturally relevant. If you look at where good fighters come from, good fighters come from the United States – including lots of important African-American fighters, lots of important Spanish-American fighters – they come from U.K. because boxing is nuts in the U.K., they come from Mexico and they come from Eastern Europe. Hopefully Gennady will vide us a bridge to some of those good fighters, and that will work for us and work for him.”
According to Skipper, DAZN’s ability to work with multiple promoters along with being an avenue for new ventures is a distinct advantage when trying to sign fighters to their platform.
“Well one of the benefits is that we’re flexible,” Skipper said. “We don’t have an existing business model that everything has to fit in. We are able to be flexible and adaptable to what potential rights holders licensing us their content need. So yeah, I think our nimbleness, our ability to be flexible is a critical factor.”
Starting in 2020, GGG Promotions will have two cards a year streamed on DAZN through 2021, and that’s not including Golovkin’s own events.
Although his company is still in the early stages of gaining a viable stable, Golovkin now has something to offer. Although Kazakhstan cultivates one of the best amateur boxing programs in the world, Golovkin told The Ring in a joint scrum with ESPN’s Steve Kim, that he hopes his reach can go further than his native country.
“It’s not just Kazakhstan,” Golovkin said. “I’m talking about younger fighters from Eastern Europe and Asia as well. When you look at Manny Pacquiao, who would’ve thought that somebody from the Philippines can become a superstar? So there are many others.
“I want to share my experience and my knowledge to the guys who want to work with me,” he added. “I think it’s going to be fair, and those people that want to come and work with me, I want to share my experience.”
There will still be familiar faces on this revamped Golovkin team, most namely Tom Loeffler who promoted him since his American inception.
“Of course,” Golovkin said when asked about Loeffler, although he was unspecific about his role. “I keep all my old team. If those people want to stay, they can stay, and those don’t want they can go, but I like to keep all people working and give them new opportunities at GGG Promotions.”
Golovkin maintained his desire to ‘experience high-level boxing’ entering this late chapter. He mentioned he was still disappointed about last September’s majority-decision loss to Canelo, and certainly knows going this route would make it easier to land a third fight. Make no mistake about it, the prospect of avenging that defeat had plenty to do with Golovkin’s decision. It just so happens to be one of the most lucrative prizefights in recent times, but in this ever-changing boxing landscape, it would now be featured off pay-per-view and on a $10 dollar a month streaming app. Which isn’t a bad way to build a subscription base as DAZN approaches its first complete year in the U.S. this fall.
In essence, Golovkin will now help his own cause in trying to build DAZN into something that can give his own promotional outfit more exposure, aside from the lucrative guarantees in the exclusive deal for his own fights. Whether or not it will work remains to be seen, but things are certain to change in this era of streaming entertainment, even in a sport seemingly always stuck in its old ways. Yet, that may very well be catalyst for this newfound desire of Golovkin, who, when asked how he felt about boxing compared to say five years ago, had a new perspective on boxing altogether.
“I look at it different now,” Golovkin answered. “I look at boxing as a business. That’s why I brought my pro team and that’s why I’m partners with DAZN now.”
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