It's time for Gennady Golovkin to fight Erislandy Lara.
By Hector Franco
The rumors are swirling in the boxing world. Fans have gotten word that Tureano Johnson would not be fighting Gennady Golovkin in April. After failed attempts by Golovkin and his promoters at K2 to get fights with Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders, they turned attention to their IBF mandatory Tureano Johnson. Johnson is a formidable contender at middleweight. He is best known for losing to Curtis Stevens by 12th round knockout in a bout he was dominating. Knowing the recent history of the IBF if Golovkin doesn’t face Johnson he would have likely been stripped of his title.
This past Wednesday it was reported that Johnson would not be able to face Golovkin in April due to an injury suffered to his should that may require surgery. Johnson would not have been an opponent fan’s were clamoring for Golovkin to face, but his exciting come forward style would have made for an entertaining bout, for however long it lasted. This puts K2 promotions and Golovkin in another situation where instead of moving up to super middleweight, the range of opponents keeps getting smaller.
Other middleweight contenders such as Andy Lee, Hassan N’dam and Peter Quillin would be opponents that Golovkin could face but these fighters are all coming off of losses and would not bring Golovkin much in terms of notoriety. Lee and N’dam don’t bring titles to the mix anymore and Quillin after losing by first round knockout to Daniel Jacobs is moving up to super middleweight. Daniel Jacobs may be a possibility as well, but it doesn’t seem like a match up Jacobs himself wants at this stage. It was also recently reported that Matt Korobov would be willing to face Golovkin. Korobov was last seen being stopped by vicious Andy lee right hook and at this point doesn't seem to bring much to the table. Therein lies the reason why Golovkin and his team should look to make a fight with Erislandy Lara.
Why not? It’s time for Golovkin and his team to call Lara’s bluff. Lara and his team have released statements through the media that they are willing to move up in weight and face Golovkin for the last two years. Lara and his team haven't sent a direct offer to Golovkin or his promotional team K2, but Lara is the only fighter sans Andre Ward who seems to want to face Golovkin. Both men don’t have fights scheduled at the moment and it would be the perfect time for this bout to take place. The promotional issues here are the sticking point and the on thing that could slow down negotiations. Unlike fellow Al Haymon promoted fighter Daniel Jacobs, Lara hasn’t made statements about a split PPV with Showtime and HBO needing to happen to make the fight. Lara and his fans have made it the narrative that Golovkin doesn’t want to step in the ring with him. Golovkin could answer the critics who believe Lara's movement would give him trouble. Whether you believe Lara lost to Canelo Alvarez or Carlos Molina, for Golovkin this would give him an opponent who is highly skilled and equally motivated. Certainly better equipped than most of the middleweights Golovkin has faced thus far and could really push him with his superior boxing skill. If Golovkin were to walk Lara down and take him out in three rounds it will have silenced many of his critics.
It’s without question that Golovkin is one of the most skilled fighters currently in the sport. There is a saying that "iron sharpens iron" and if Golovkin keeps facing competition that is not on his level, he could be doing himself a disservice. Lara as of late has not faced the best competition himself as his last three fights were against Jan Zaveck, Delvin Rodriguez, and Ishe Smith. Not exactly murderer’s row. If these two meet it could prove to be a great fight where styles clash. At the very least both men would be tested mentally for however long the fight lasts. A fighter like Golovkin who has made it a point to stay active could use a test. In Lara, he faces an opponent who has almost as much amateur and professional experience as he does.
Finally, what better way to build up a fight with Canelo Alvarez then by taking on a former opponent of his? There is a split between most fans as to who won the bout between Alvarez and Lara. It’s 50-50 either way with many fans feeling that Lara got the raw end of the deal. If Golovkin were to take out Lara before a bout with Alvarez it could make the event that much bigger. There is the possibility that it could also scare off Alvarez from considering the bout. Golovkin doesn’t have many options left it seems for the first half of 2016. If Golovkin and his team at K2 are willing to work with Al Haymon to make a fight happen, it will benefit him now and in the future. It goes both ways. Judging from the attendance of Lara’s last fight with Zaveck, he isn’t in the position to demand an extraordinary amount of money. Haymon has to be willing to work with K2 and vice versa.
Unless Alvarez decides to bypass an interim bout and head straight for Golovkin, Golovkin may need to look outside of HBO for credible opponents. What better opponent than Erislandy Lara?