What has long since felt like a formality became official overnight as former unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin signed a three-year, six-fight deal with streaming app DAZN early Friday. The deal will pay the 36-year-old native of Kazakhstan eight figures per fight, according to The Ring's Mike Coppinger. Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) will also be a global ambassador for DAZN, joining a boxing stable that includes unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and GGG's biggest rival Canelo Alvarez.
DAZN is expected to announce the deal during a press conference Monday in Los Angeles, where GGG resides.
Golovkin, who fought Alvarez to a disputed decision loss in their all-action rematch last September, is expected to make his DAZN debut in June before seeking a big-money trilogy bout against Alvarez this fall (should the Mexican star defeat fellow Daniel Jacobs in their May 4 unification bout).
Courted at various points by everyone from ESPN, UFC Fight Pass and PBC (which has contracts with Showtime and Fox), Golovkin became the hottest broadcast free agent last fall following HBO's decision to cease boxing coverage after 30 years. Part of what made the DAZN deal so attractive was the opportunity for GGG to purchase equity in the company, along with four guaranteed dates over the next two years to showcase fighters Golovkin has signed to his fledgling GGG Promotions.
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Golovkin's June debut with DAZN isn't expected to be against an elite opponent, mostly because of how much money is on the line in a potential fall showdown against Alvarez (or a possible rematch with Jacobs should he win). A June debut for GGG is important for DAZN because it would allow the company to combine his appearance with Joshua's June 1 title defense against Jerrell "Big Baby" Miller in the same one-month free trial for new subscribers.
DAZN, which costs $9.99 per month, made big waves upon its U.S. launch last summer by pulling some of boxing's biggest pay-per-view stars off of the platform completely. Alvarez, who made his DAZN debut in December by claiming a secondary super middleweight title from Rocky Fielding, opens 2019 by beginning a new 10-fight deal worth $350 million.
While it remains uncertain exactly who Golovkin might face in his June debut, he joins a DAZN stable that has no shortage of enticing options in and around the 160-pound division. Let's take a closer look at potential future opponents for the fighter who equaled Bernard Hopkins' middleweight record of 20 title defenses.
Canelo Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs), unified middleweight champion: A third fight between these two would likely be the biggest boxing will offer in 2019. The first two were as exciting as they were controversial, with Alvarez -- the WBA, WBC and lineal
middleweight titleholder -- walking away with a split draw and a close decision in fights many felt Golovkin had won. Both fighters want it, as does Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy, which makes it nothing short of a guarantee should Alvarez be victorious in May.
Daniel Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs), IBF middleweight champion: In 2017, Jacobs became the first fighter to go the full 12 rounds against Golovkin when he got up off the canvas in a close decision loss that some felt should have gone his way. Jacobs has rebounded with three straight impressive wins and enters the biggest fight of his career against Alvarez. Win or lose, it's likely Jacobs finds his way to a GGG rematch eventually.
Demetrius Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs), WBO middleweight champion: With his promotional issues and inactivity behind him, Andrade is armed with a new world title and a handsome deal with both DAZN and promoter Eddie Hearn that makes him a very interesting candidate for GGG longterm, should he hang on to his title. Andrade is as long and difficult an opponent as they come with elite craft for a southpaw. But with everyone under the same broadcasting banner, his days of being avoided by top names should be behind him.
David Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs): Provided the Canadian slugger can put weight issues behind him and consistently make 160 pounds, his name should linger as an attractive one for GGG due to his one-dimensional style as a come-forward puncher. Golovkin previously finished Lemieux with ease behind his powerful jab during their 2015 unification bout. But to Lemieux's credit, the former titleholder has improved a bit and likes his chances against an older GGG in a fight that is easy to make due to Lemieux being promoted by Golden Boy.
Jaime Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs), WBO junior middleweight champion: At just 22, the Mexican slugger is as exciting as he is bold, and has mentioned on more than one occasion how willing he would be to move up in weight and challenge the likes of Alvarez or Golovkin. As a DAZN fighter who is co-promoted by Golden Boy, he'll likely get that chance given the fact that most top 154-pound fighters compete under the PBC banner. From a style and entertainment standpoint, a fight between him and GGG would be magic.
Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs), WBA super middleweight champion: The 28-year-old Englishman is a fun fighter, fresh off his knockout title victory over George Groves, who may find himself on the outside looking in at his own division considering the other three titleholders are tied up with other U.S. broadcasters. Given Smith's friendliness to DAZN as an Eddie Hearn-promoted fighter, it would only make sense that his name be out there as an interesting challenge for Golovkin should he desire to move up in weight.
Jason Quigley (15-0, 11 KOs): This is more of a longer-term play considering the 27-year-old has battled injuries in recent years and has yet to truly establish himself on the elite level. But the marketable Irishman is a Golden Boy fighter with an exciting style who, should he advance quickly over the next year, could find himself in the conversation.