By Craig Daly: Gennadiy Golovkin has been ordered by the WBA to defend his middleweight title against ‘regular’ champion Erislandy Lara in his next fight.
Earlier today, Golovkin (42-2-1, 37 KOs) vacated his IBF title after he’d been ordered by the sanctioning to defend against his mandatory Esquiva Falcao.
Rather than take that fight, which would have been plenty difficult for the 40-year-old Golovkin, he chose instead to give up the belt, leaving him with just the WBA strap now.
With the WBA ordering Golovkin to defend against the 39-year-old Cuban Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs), he must decide whether he feels it’s worth it or not to take this equally difficult fight against the highly skilled southpaw.
Will Golovkin vacate his WBA belt?
Golovkin & Lara have until February 23rd to reach a deal before a purse bid takes place. Before then, we’ll likely hear whether Golovkin chooses to vacate this title too.
It won’t be a huge surprise if Golovkin vacates his WBA belt to swerve Lara because he’s looked something awful in his last five fights dating back to his 2019 match against Steve Rolls.
In Golovkin’s last fight, he was beaten by Canelo Alvarez by a 12 round unanimous decision last September.
What was especially disappointing about that performance by GGG was the lack of effort that he put out during the first six rounds. For the most part, Golovkin was circling the ring and tying up Canelo when he’d get near enough to let his hands go.
By the time Golovkin finally started letting his hands go in the eighth round, the fight was already out of grasp, and he needed a knockout, which he failed to get due to an overly cautious approach to rallying.
Lara has won his last four fights since battling to a 12 round draw against Brian Castano in 2019.
It would be hard for Golovkin to earn a victory or even a draw against Lara with the way he’s been fighting lately because the Cuban star is fighting on a higher level than him, and he would take advantage of his low work rate and his slowed hand speed.
Lara hasn’t lost since his war against then-prime Jarrett Hurd in 2018, a close fight that was an exciting battle from start to finish. Hurd hasn’t looked the same since that fight.
In 2014, Lara lost a highly controversial 12 round split decision to Canelo Alvarez in a fight that many boxing fans felt Erislandy should have won.
Looking back at that fight, it’s difficult to know what the two judges were thinking that gave it to Canelo because Lara limited him to only 31 headshots landed in the entire fight, and he out-landed him by a wide margin.
GGG’s popularity has evaporated
It’s alarming how Golovkin’s popularity has plummeted in the last five years since his rematch with Canelo in 2018.
Back then, Golovkin was still a highly popular fighter, but thanks to his choosing to fight rarely and only against subpar opposition, he threw away his popularity.
It’s believed by many boxing fans that Golovkin didn’t want to risk losing out on his contractual trilogy fight against Canelo by fighting a good opponent that would have kept his star power in place.
As a result, Golovkin is viewed as yesterday’s news in the eyes of many boxing fans and might as well be invisible at this stage of his career.
Dmitry Bivol has supplanted Golovkin as the most popular Eastern European fighter in boxing today following his two huge wins over Canelo and Gilberto Ramirez in 2022.
Bivol fought Canelo the way Golovkin should have by throwing sustained combinations, and he had the defense to block the counters from the Mexican star. The stamina that Bivol showed against Canelo was far better than what we saw from Golovkin in his three fights against the Mexican star.