Middleweight Jam

GGG Seeks Middleweight Cleanup

By David A. Avila

If you follow the middleweight division and know its history, for more than a century its ranks have provided legendary names like Sugar Ray Robinson, Mickey Walker, Carlos Monzon and recently Bernard Hopkins.

Today four major world titles exist in each division. At the head of the middleweight list is WBA middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, then WBC titlist Miguel Cotto and WBO titlist Andy Lee of Ireland. All call themselves world champions.

A log jam of middleweights exists.

You can add another to the list on Saturday June 20, when Canada’s David Lemieux (33-2, 31 Kos) and France’s Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (31-1, 18 Kos) battle for the vacant IBF middleweight title. Their clash takes place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. 

Most observers view Big Bear’s Golovkin as the real middleweight world champion. He’s eager to face any of the other middleweights. The others do not share the same feelings. Cotto and Lee have not stepped forward to face knockout punching Golovkin.

Before the 1960s when only one world champion existed, most fans knew the king of each weight division from flyweight to heavyweight. It created a thirst for all of the contenders chasing the title to step in the boxing ring and face the champion. It was the only way to be a world champion.

Today, with the exception of Golovkin, the other middleweight world champions would rather pretend the other titleholders don’t exist. Cotto, who recently defeated Daniel Geale by knockout, should defend the WBC title against Golovkin who is ranked number one. But few expect Cotto to fight Golovkin.

“We can’t force them to get in the ring with Gennady Golovkin,” said Tom Loeffler, who directs K-2 Promotions. 

In Canada, the winner of the IBF middleweight title should it be Lemieux or N’Dam N’Jikam would be more than willing to face Golovkin because it would mean a step up the ladder economically. Million dollar paydays are the name of the game and stepping in the ring against Golovkin could result in a million dollar purse.

“There's no luck in boxing. It's a hard man's work. It's life or death in the ring. It's not a game, and there's no such thing as luck in boxing,” said Lemieux who has a do or die mentality. “I've earned my right to be where I am, and I will be where I want to be.”

Both fighters have said they would be eager to fight Golovkin should they win the IBF middleweight title. 

Meanwhile, Golovkin waits to see if Cotto will face him as mandated by rules of the WBC. Most expect Puerto Rico’s Cotto to face Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez instead and pay off Golovkin with money to step aside and allow the fight to happen. It’s a good situation for Golovkin who would love to fight Alvarez too.

“We’re just waiting to see what Cotto wants to do,” said Loeffler. “We know both Cotto and Alvarez and either would be a great opponent for Golovkin.”

And should Cotto or Alvarez still refuse to face Golovkin, well the winner between Lemieux and N’Dam N’Jikam probably will take their place.