By Allan Fox: IBF/IBO/WBA.WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s title defense against #5 WBO, #9 WBA and #11 WBC Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan (27-2, 19 KOs) is heading to regular HBO (non-pay-per-view) on May 5th at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, according to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times.
O’Sullivan is the fighter that Golovkin’s promoters have dug up for him as a replacement opponent for Saul Canelo Alvarez, who pulled out of the fight after his 2 positive tests for clenbuterol, a substance that is banned. Moving Golovkin’s fight from the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas to the StubHub Center in Carson is move to place the fight in a location where GGG has the best chance of bringing in the most amounts of boxing fans to purchase tickets to see him live.
Golovkin sells well in California and New York. Canelo Alvarez is the one that has a large fan base in Las Vegas, and he’s no longer in the picture for the Golovkin fight unfortunately due to him pulling out of the contest before the Nevada State Athletic Commission likely suspends him for 6 months on April 18.
It’s smart of Golovkin’s team to move him off HBO PPV, because there’s no interest in the fans seeing him fight the little known O’Sullivan. That’s a guy that lost every round in a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision defeat to Billy Joe Saunders in 2013, and he was also stopped in in the 7th round by Chris Eubank Jr. in 2015. The PPV buys for a fight between Golovkin and O’Sullivan would have been atrocious to say the least. It’s a terrible fight even for regular HBO. If O’Sullivan had beaten someone good in the last three years to prove that he’s worthy of a title shot, ten it would make sense, but that’s not what he’s been doing.
Moving the Golovkin vs. O’Sullivan fight from HBO PPV to regular non-PPV makes a lot more sense, because it’s not a fight that is worthy of being on PPV. There are some fighters that have enough of a fan base to get away with sticking a mismatch like that on HBO PPV, but Golovkin isn’t one of them. For Golovkin to bring in a lot of PPV buys, he needs a popular opponent, and Ireland’s O’Sullivan is not even close to being popular. He’s as obscure as you can get. O’Sullivan’s Irish boxing fans would absolutely love to see him fight Golovkin, but the problems are they’re in Ireland and not in the U.S. Those fans won’t be able to purchase the Golovkin-O’Sullivan fight on HBO PPV from Ireland.
It’s still not a done deal that GGG will be facing the 33-year-old O’Sullivan on May 5th, as promoter Lou Dibella is attempting to get the International Boxing Federation to step in and order Golovkin to face IBF mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) on that date. What Dibella has working against him in this case is the fact that there’s only one month to go before the May 5th date, and it’s not likely the IBF is going to order Golovkin to take a fight against his mandatory Derevyanchenko with one month notice.
”How can he not be prepared for Sergiy Derevyanchenko?” Derevyanchenko’s promoter Lou Dibella said to Lance Pugmire of the latimes.com. “When a guy is sitting in a mandatory spot, he’s not getting paid until he gets that [title] fight. And if Golovkin faces Canelo next, this decision could affect [Derevyanchenko] for 18 months.”
Dibella brings up a good point about Golovkin being ready to fight a right-handed fighter like Derevyanchenko on May 5th. Golovkin has been training all this time to face the right-handed Canelo Alvarez, so he should be ready to defend against Derevyanchenko on that date. If Golovkin doesn’t face the Ukrainian fighter Derevyanchenko on May 5th, then he’s going to have to likely wait until September 2019 before he gets his IBF mandatory title shot.
Golovkin will be looking to face Canelo this September on the Mexican Independence Day holiday, and then probably face him for a third time in May of 2019 on Cinco de Mayo. The earliest chance Derevyanchenko can get to fight Golovkin is September 2019, even then it’s not guaranteed the fight will happen. If Canelo and Golovkin face each other for an unheard of 4th time, then there’s no way they’re going to stop their rematch cycle to face a guy with a small fan base like Derevyanchenko.
Golovkin would show a lot of courage if he were to take the fight with Derevyanchenko next on May 5th. It’s one that he can probably win, but it’ll be a tougher fight for him than the limited O’Sullivan. Derevyanchenko can box as well as punch, so he would be making adjustments against Golovkin. This is a much better fight for Golovkin than his mismatch against O’Sullivan. Golovkin has never been perceived as a cherry picker until now, but it sure looks like that’s what he plans on doing in taking on O’Sullivan next rather than Derevyanchenko or Demetrius Andrade.
It’s good that Golovkin’s May 5th fight is now being move to non-PPV. but that doesn’t take of the many boxing fans that have already made plans to travel to Vegas. Golovkin’s management moving the fight from Las Vegas to Carson, California is going to upset a lot of boxing fans, because Tom Loeffler, GGG’s promoter, told the fans recently not to turn in their tickets.
There are obviously a lot of fans that had already made flight plans and booked hotels in Las Vegas to see Golovkin fight Canelo on May 5th. Some of those fans were still willing to see Golovkin fight on that date without Canelo. But with the Golovkin fight now looking like it’s going to be moved to the StubHub Center in Carson, California, it’s bad for the fans that made plans to travel to Las Vegas.
Loeffler needs to make an announcement quick about where and who Golovkin will be fighting next, so that the boxing fans can start making their travel plans to come see him fight. Obviously a lot of the fans won’t be interested in coming to see Golovkin fight a lower level fighter like O’Sullivan, but with the fight being staged in Carson, California, they could still get a lot of people to come see him.
O’Sullivan is a good style for Golovkin to fight, because he’s a guy that comes forward and looks to duke it out with his opponents. Golovkin will surely get a knockout in this fight unless he does something crazy like trying to box for 12 rounds like he did in his last two fights against Canelo and Daniel Jacobs.