- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin isn't known in the United States by anyone other than the most freakish of Fight Freaks. But make no mistake, he's good. And if he has his way, he won't be unknown for long.
Golovkin was a decorated amateur. He claimed a silver medal for Kazakhstan in the 2004 Olympics, beating Andre Dirrell on his way to the hardware. Other fighters you may have heard of whom he beat in the unpaid ranks: Lucian Bute (by stoppage), Andy Lee, Yordanis Despaigne and Matvey Korobov. Not a bad group is it?
As a professional, Golovkin had been based in Germany while fighting for promoter Universum, which is nearly out of business now. He has left the company and signed with K2 Promotions -- the company owned by heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. If Golovkin and K2 execute their plan, he will soon be fighting important fights on these shores.
Golovkin is already training in Big Bear, Calif., with trainer Abel Sanchez and hopes to make a splash in the U.S. this year.
In an effort to raise his profile in America, the 29-year-old Golovkin (22-0, 19 KOs) hit New York this week -- along with K2's Tom Loeffler and manager Max Hermann -- to try to drum up interest. He attended a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden, where he dreams of fighting one day. He also met with the ambassador from Kazakhstan. But the more important meetings were business-related. Loeffler said Golovkin's group met with MSG executives, who are interested in having Golovkin fight at the Garden. Then were the meetings with the television networks. The fighter's group met with Epix on Wednesday and is slated to meet with HBO and Showtime on Thursday, Loeffler said.
"When he was with Universum, there was not much publicity for him, but he is really committed to fighting here, especially in New York -- and that's what we want to make clear to everyone, especially the television networks," Loeffler said of Golovkin on Wednesday. "He speaks Russian, German and his English is getting better. Now that he is signed with K2, part of our commitment to him was to bring him to the United States. Universum was keeping him in Europe.
"But we really believe in Gennady. He will fight anyone. We will make that clear to the networks, that he won't pick and choose his opponents. They'll have a fighter who will fight who they want him to fight. If that means Andy Lee or Daniel Geale or Dmitry Pirog or Peter Quillin or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or Sergio Martinez, fine. They can pick. We just want the opportunity."
Golovkin hopes to fight in April. It could take place in Europe or possibly in the United States "if we can get backing from a U.S. TV network," Loeffler said.
Golovkin would like to fight titleholder Felix Sturm of Germany to clear up the issue of both of them holding versions of the WBA title. That's a fight that would make the most sense in Germany, but for anything else, Golovkin welcomes the chance to fight in America.
"I have this dream," said Golovkin, whose visit to New York this week is his first. "It is to fight in America, especially at Madison Square Garden, which has such a big history of boxing. My dream has always been to fight in the U.S. and Madison Square Garden because there is a lot of big boxing history."
Fight fans probably will take to Golovkin if they get a chance to watch him. He's a crowd-pleaser. In Germany in December, Golovkin made his third title defense, scoring a spectacular first-round knockout of Philadelphia's Lajuan Simon. In his previous defense last June, Golovkin had a terrific fight with former junior middleweight titleholder Kassim Ouma before stopping him in the 10th round.
"My style is that I'm aggressive, always going forward and putting big pressure on my opponents," Golovkin said. "What I'm doing now in Big Bear is trying to combine all the different styles -- the old Soviet style, the American style and the Mexican style."
Golovkin mentioned two famous fighters whose styles he most likes and tries to emulate: Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Robinson.
"I like Tyson's style, with the power, and I've see a lot of Robinson tapes and I like him," he said. "Tyson's style is what I look up to. My trainer and me go over old tapes. I also watch Terry Norris tapes, too."
If Golovkin can get the kind of fights he wants against the best-known middleweights and keeps adding to his undefeated record in the kind of exciting fights fans want to see, who knows? Maybe someday a young boxer in the future will talk to a writer about how he likes to watch Gennady Golovkin videos.
Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin isn't known in the United States by anyone other than the most freakish of Fight Freaks. But make no mistake, he's good.