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No more ‘Big Drama Show’ on HBO? Gennady Golovkin set to become free agent after Canelo Alvarez rematch

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Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) was introduced to American boxing fans by HBO in 2012, and has since turned into one of the biggest stars in the sport. With his rematch vs. Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) fast approaching, there’s a very real chance that Golovkin’s days with HBO are over after this weekend.

According to Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times, Golovkin’s current exclusive deal with HBO is set to expire after the Canelo showdown. The Kazakh power-puncher is 36 years old, but he’s still at the top of his division and one of the most consistently entertaining fighters around, so could the “Big Drama Show” be heading to another platform soon? Details fromo the article sure make it sound like Golovkin and his promoter, Tom Loeffler, might be ready to move on.

Six years after HBO helped launch Golovkin’s rise by televising his U.S. debut in New York, he was irked that HBO seemed unsupportive of his plan to fight a replacement opponent in May after Alvarez was suspended for six months for submitting two positive tests for clenbuterol.

It rubbed Golovkin as preferential treatment by the premium network toward Mexico’s popular Alvarez.

Golovkin ultimately landed an HBO date on Cinco de Mayo at StubHub Center against Vanes Martirosyan, but his $1-million guarantee was 20 times less than what he’s expected to earn Saturday.

“We would’ve liked a bigger license fee,” Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler said.

HBO executive vice president Peter Nelson focused his attention on this weekend’s PPV, adding that “We don’t comment on contracts.” Loeffler also added that a Golovkin win would open up “a lot of options” for him moving forward. You can probably read between the lines there, particularly the statement about wanting more money for the Martirosyan fight.

This doesn’t mean that HBO won’t re-sign Golovkin to another multi-fight deal, but questions have swirled around the boxing world as to the obvious decline in the network’s commitment to airing live events. Their budget has been slashed substantially from what it once was in 2000, and it looks as if 2019 will see ESPN, DAZN, Showtime, and FOX all with larger rights deals. An example of the state of HBO’s budget situation is the Eleider Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev rematch, which may air on a different network because HBO wants to lower its license fee.

In the long-term, there are plenty of interesting matchups available for Golovkin, notably against Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs), Ryota Murata (14-1, 11 KOs), the winner of Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) vs. Demetrius Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), and the winner of Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs). Only Jacobs is an HBO fighter, and he’s likely headed for DAZN as part of promote Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom USA deal.

In other words, if Golovkin doesn’t re-sign with HBO, it arguably makes it easier for him to face these opponents. So don’t rule out Golovkin fighting on DAZN, or ESPN, or Showtime, or even FOX. You know other networks will be very willing to pay top dollar for his services.

Golovkin vs. Canelo 2 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, September 15th, with HBO pay-per-view starting at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.


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