There is a new middleweight on the block and he is already jumping up the most avoided list: Gennady Golovkin.
Last Saturday in Kiev, Ukraine's Golovkin (23-0, 20 knockouts) defended his paper title in a three-round destruction of Makoto Fuchigami. Golovkin, 30, is a baby faced Kazakhstan native -- when I ran into him in New York recently he was sporting a multi-colored T-shirt and a sideways-turned baseball hat, looking more like a refugee from a Manhattan art school than a prizefighter -- but sports one of the most devastating right hands in the 160-pound division.
“In order to get the recognition of being the best middleweight in the world, which we think he is, he needs to be seen,” said Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez. “Right now we just can’t seem to get anyone in the ring with him.”
Golovkin knows who he wants to get in the ring with: Felix Sturm, the WBA “Super” champion (Golovkin holds the “regular” title). According to Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, after Sturm makes a voluntary title defense, he will be obligated to face Golovkin.
“The deal we made with the WBA is that Sturm was allowed a voluntary defense and if he wins, his next fight will be a mandatory defense of the winner of Gennady-Fuchigami,” Loeffler said. “They have been ordered to make that fight by September 30th. At this point, Sturm is running out of options. Sturm at this time holds the record for being a champion the longest without having a mandatory defense. Two years ago Gennady was the interim champion and Sturm was the WBA Champion. Sturm then got elevated to Super Champion. For the last two years Gennady has been trying to fight him.”
One of the most likeable things about Golovkin is his willingness to shuttle up and down weight classes to get a big fight. At 5-foot-10, Golovkin is already short for a middleweight but says he is willing to go all the way up to 168 pounds for the right matchup.
“I want the fight with Felix Sturm,” Golovkins said. “That is the only fight I really want at this time. If that doesn’t work out ... I can move to either 154 or 168 if I need to find another opponent. Whatever it is, I want the best fights against the best opponents. I will fight [WBO middleweight titleholder] Dmitry Pirog or any of the other champions. Right now it doesn’t matter who my opponent is or what weight I fight at.”
Loeffler, who promotes both Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, says he would like to market Golovkin the same way as the Klitschkos.
We had Wladimir fight at [Madison Square] Garden, where we had marketed him to the Russian community,” Loeffler said. “The Garden has shown interest and would like to have him fight there two times a year. We were at the Martinez fight and Gennady has a lot of respect for him. That is a fight that he would take immediately -- on Saturday night if he had the choice. They probably would not want to put him in with Gennady at this time. There is no fighter that he wouldn’t get in the ring with. He considers himself the best middleweight. He just wants the opportunity to prove it to all the fans out there.”
-- Chris Mannix