Dan Rafael: Daniel Geale
There’s two ways to look at that. On the one hand, it’s good to see Geale call for a fight with a guy most people do not want to face. GGG has been destroying opponents and is a sure loss for most opponents. On the other hand, it’s kind of easy to call out Golovkin when you have no chance to be his next opponent -- because you already declined the opportunity.
Golovkin returns on April 26 (HBO) at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York and Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) has already passed on the fight. He claims that because of the date, he cannot face Golovkin because he would have no Australian television revenue because the pay-per-view company that would handle the bout already has a UFC event scheduled the same day.
So what Geale is really doing is throwing his hat into the ring as a candidate for Golovkin this summer, should he defeat likely April 26 opponent Andy Lee.
"My ambition is to recapture a world title and bring it back to Australia,” Geale said. "I will do whatever it takes to regain my status as the middleweight champion of the world. With Wood out of the way, the doors have opened for other big fights. I believe Gennady Golovkin and I would make for a great fight. If HBO can bring that fight to fruition, then I'm all for it. Golovkin needs to fight someone of my caliber to be considered elite. The fans deserve a great competitive fight and that's what Golovkin and I bring to the table.
"I would have fought Golovkin already had there been a PPV date [in Australia], but there was none available. My promoters, Gary Shaw and Garrie Francisco, believe this fight can happen and that's the direction I want to go. The same style I fought against Wood is what I anticipate would be successful against Golovkin. It would be a great fight for the fans."
Geale’s win against Wood was his first since losing his world title by split decision to England’s Darren Barker in a great fight in August in Atlantic City, N.J.
You can cross former middleweight titlist Daniel Geale off the list of potential opponents for Gennady Golovkin’s April 26 HBO fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
You can also cross off James Kirkland, another of the three leading candidates.
You know what that means? That means GGG likely will face former title challenger Andy Lee.
“We're close. We’re talking, and Andy wants the fight,” Lou DiBella, Lee’s promoter, told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “Andy believes he can win, and this is a fight that he wants.”
Geale (29-2, 15 KOs) is scheduled to face Australian countryman Garth Wood on Feb. 19 in Geale’s first bout since losing his belt to Darren Barker in a great fight in August in Atlantic City, N.J., but he was viewed as the leading candidate to try to slow down the Golovkin train.
But he’s now out of the picture. Geale and promoter Gary Shaw both said that the reason is because if he fights Golovkin on April 26 -- the firm date for Golovkin’s next fight, mainly because that is when the MSG Theater is available -- the bout would not be televised in Australia, where most fights of consequence are on Main Event PPV. On April 26, Main Event PPV is already slated to air a UFC pay-per-view.
With no Australian television revenue, that would leave Geale without an important piece of his overall revenue for a fight with Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs), who is coming off last week’s bruising seventh-round knockout of Osumanu Adama in Monte Carlo.
“We weren't ducking him," Geale told Fox Sports Australia. “If they had given us a week later or a week before, it would have been perfect. But they wouldn't budge on the date and I want the people of Australia to be able to see a fight like that. Golovkin has built his name up so well; he's stopped pretty much everybody he's been in there with. I don't want to go over there [to the U.S.] and do something great and nobody see it."
Shaw told ESPN.com, “I agree with Geale. He wants his fights to be shown in Australia. Hope he gets the next fight with enough time to secure a TV network. Geale has never been afraid to fight GGG and continues to believe that he has a chance.”
But according to sources involved in the talks, Kirkland’s camp has rejected the fight. Instead, there’s a good chance that Kirkland, of Austin, Texas, will wind up on the April 26 HBO undercard with the understanding that if Kirkland and Golovkin both win they would meet in the summer.
That left Ireland’s Lee (31-2, 22 KOs), HBO’s third choice but the one guy willing to take the fight and the guy who probably can significantly boost ticket sales. New York’s Irish fight fans are very loyal to their fighters.
Lee has won three low-level fights in a row since being destroyed in a seventh-round knockout loss to then-middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2012.
I don’t think Lee stands much of a chance against Golovkin, but I didn’t think Geale or Kirkland did either.
Although Peter Quillin had a tough time of it, he got the job done and retained his middleweight world title for the second time when he stopped Gabriel Rosado on a cut in the 10th round on Oct. 26 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Quillin dropped Rosado in the second round but was having problems in the middle rounds before opening the bad cut on Rosado's left eyelid in the ninth round, which led to the stoppage.
The 30-year-old Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs) deserves credit for getting through a difficult fight, especially given the personal situation he was going through during the last part of his training camp. While in the midst of training in Los Angeles, Quillin's wife, Allison, was home in New York and suffered a miscarriage five months into her pregnancy.
"I struggled with it," Quillin said. "I was obligated to camp, 3,000 miles away, and she had to go through it without me being there to comfort her. We're praying together and I'm working on being more compassionate."
Quillin is putting the miscarriage and the fight with Rosado behind him and has returned to light training, even though he doesn't have his next fight lined up.
"I took a week off and bought my dream car," he said of his new red Corvette Stingray. "I get depressed when I'm not working out. My wife goes to work and I'm all alone. I need to be active to be productive, so I went right back into the gym. My dad taught me how to clear my head. I'm staying ready and in shape, just in case the opportunity for my career-defining fight comes along."
Getting that big fight is going to be tough. Although Quillin might end up defending against Golden Boy Promotions teammate Daniel Jacobs in early 2014, he knows he is a long way from getting one of the big names in the division because of the divide that has his promoter working exclusively with Showtime on premium cable cards while many of the other top middleweights, including champion Sergio Martinez and red-hot titleholder Gennady Golovkin, have been fighting on HBO.
"If the money is right, I'm up for fighting any of the top names, especially Martinez and Golovkin, but everybody's aware of what's going on behind the scenes," Quillin said. "My job is to work hard and be ready."
Quillin offered his take on some of the top middleweights:
Martinez: "He is the one everybody has as No. 1 in the middleweight division. Martinez has fought some very exciting fights. He's a showman in the ring."
Golovkin: "A power puncher. Golovkin brings power into the ring and gets a lot of knockouts."
Darren Barker (titleholder): "He always puts his best foot forward and always tries as hard as possible. Barker and I would bring a lot of fireworks into the ring."
Daniel Geale (former titlist): "Another exciting fighter who bangs with the best. It worked for a while against Barker."
Felix Sturm (former titlist): "I haven't seen too much of him. I hope Sturm pursues more fights to make the middleweight division even tougher than it is right now."
Martin Murray (interim titlist): "He is determined and exciting. I can't take anything away from Murray."
Middleweight titleholder Darren Barker has been in two world fights, both away from his home country of England.
In 2011, he challenged champion Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City, N.J., and although Barker was stopped in the 11th round, he gave Martinez one of his toughest championship fights. In August, Barker returned to Atlantic City and took a well-deserved split decision against Australia’s Daniel Geale to win a belt.
Now, with Barker’s first title defense set, he’ll hit the road yet again, this time going to Stuttgart, Germany, to for a mandatory defense against former three-time titleholder -- and German hero -- Felix Sturm on Dec. 7. Traveling, however, is no issue for Barker. Been there, done that.
“People asked me, ‘What are you going to Germany for? You’re mad, you’re mad,’ but it was if somebody had said, ‘Here is the winning lottery ticket, do you want to buy it for a quid?’ It was a no-brainer, the deal was so good,” Barker said. “Aside from that, I am extremely confident of winning. I respect Felix as a former champion, a great fighter with tons of experience, but he hasn’t experienced Darren Barker yet.”
As the titleholder, Barker (26-1, 16 KOs) would have been entitled to 75 percent of the winning purse bid if the sides had not made a deal, meaning promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport would have had the clear advantage if the fight went to auction. However, Hearn and Barker are realists. They wanted to fight Sturm and knew it if it went to a bid, especially if Matchroom had won, Sturm (38-3-2, 17 KOs) likely would have pulled out of the fight.
So Hearn made the kind of deal for Barker that he said was “life-altering money.” In addition, he got the Sturm side to agree to neutral officials and a rematch clause for a fight in England in the event Barker loses, an almost unheard-of concession in a mandatory fight.
Barker said he viewed going to Germany to fight on Sturm’s turf as though there would be more pressure on Sturm. Barker likes it that way.
“Felix’s shows are always spectacular, and I’m sure it will be a sellout and the pressure will all be on him,” Barker said. “I’ve boxed all over the world as an amateur, in some pretty hostile places, and it’s never bothered me. It inspires me. I don’t worry about the judges. I plan on winning very well, and putting on a fantastic night with lots of my fans coming over.”
With the business side of things taken care of, Barker has the utmost confidence in winning.
“The confidence that comes from winning a title is massive,” Barker said. “I am looking forward to the fight. Training is going well and is only going to get better, and I can 100 percent guarantee I will be leaving Germany still champion. I am the proud owner of that belt and I look forward to a long reign.
“I have worked so hard to win the title and there’s no way I’m letting it go now. [Trainer] Tony [Sims] and I have a game plan in mind and plenty of weeks to work on it day in, day out in the gym, so I am very confident I’ll retain my title and do so in style. Felix is a quality boxer and was a great champion and a massive star in Germany. He’s beaten some excellent fighters and had a couple of great fights with my Brit rivals Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray. But I truly believe I’ve got his number. It’s a great first defense for me because he’s a huge name.”
One such fighter is his countryman, Martin Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs), who dropped the real middleweight champion, Sergio Martinez, and gave him all he could handle in a debatable decision loss on Martinez's turf in Argentina in April.
"We're both world class fighters. He's a world champion and I should have become one, arguably against [Felix] Sturm [in a 2011 draw] and definitely against Martinez, so we've got the chance to get a good middleweight era going again," Murray said. "Me and Barker have both said we want to get involved in big British world title fights and him beating Geale makes that possible. We've got a chance here for us to put on one the biggest fights out there. It'd be a massive event and my Twitter has gone crazy with people asking about it since his win.
"It's up to Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport [Barker's promoter] whether it can happen, but I can't see any reason why it shouldn't."
Barker's first defense is supposed to be a mandatory against Sturm, a fight Hearn has said he would like to put on in London in December. But Murray certainly is a worthy challenger. It would seem logical that the fight could happen after Barker (26-1, 16 KOs) satisfies his mandatory obligation, assuming he wins.
"I watched [Barker] as a fan on the weekend and regardless of whether I get shot or not, I'm made up for him," Murray said. "He fought his heart out against Geale and he achieved his goal and I couldn't be more pleased. We've spoke a few times over Twitter and also when we were on [the British boxing television studio show] 'Ringside' and we get on well. I also know we both want the fight. I don't know what the situation is with his mandatory, but his trainer, Tony Simms, has also talked about fighting me so they must be thinking about it."
At the time, Dulorme was a red-hot prospect. He had been scoring big knockouts and had the attention of the media and HBO, which put on the Abregu fight and was super interested in him.
Since the loss, Dulorme and his team have regrouped, and he is being moved a bit slower. At 23, there is no hurry. He needs to be developed properly and not rushed into a fight he isn’t ready for, which is what happened with Abregu.
Since the loss, Dulorme (18-1, 13 KOs) has won both of his fights against modest opposition, a first-round knockout of Eddie Brooks in Puerto Rico, where Dulorme lives, followed by an eight-round decision against Ben Ankrah in April.
Dulorme’s rebuilding will continue against New York’s Frankie Figueroa (20-5-1, 13 KOs) on Saturday night at the Revel Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., on the undercard of Daniel Geale’s middleweight title defense against Darren Barker.
While Geale-Barker will air live on HBO along with the junior featherweight title bout between Jonathan Romero and Kiko Martinez, Dulorme-Figueroa will be taped and air on HBO Latino immediately following the conclusion of Geale-Barker, at approximately 12:30 a.m. ET.
"I'm just excited to get back into the ring,” Dulorme said. “Staying busy keeps me focused and motivated. My head is never clearer than when I am preparing for a fight. It takes a toll on most fighters, but I'm centered and very relaxed. I owe the fight game a lot, and I am doing this for my fans, the people who believe in me. I want to show my supporters that their belief in me is based on actual ability, and when I am on top, I will share that moment with those who stuck by me, especially my promoters Gary Shaw, Javier Bustillo and Lou DiBella.”
Even with the setback against Abregu, Dulorme said he believes he can still win a world title.
“If you're not in the sport to become champion, then what's the point? I have every intention on winning a title one day, and I know that it is a real goal, one that I have control of accomplishing,” he said. “I have a strong support group and plenty of people in my corner that believe in me, but from this point on, I must make believers out of everyone else. Come fight night, I will make believers out of anyone who may still have doubts.”
Shaw said he believes Dulorme can regain the form that made him such a dynamic prospect.
“Thomas is a young fighter and young guys are always finding themselves, but he is special because he is so far ahead of his age group,” Shaw said. “The maturity level he displayed after his setback was tremendously inspiring. He will challenge for a world title, and he has the potential to be one of the best fighters in the division period.”
After weeks in which Dulorme's team and HBO ran through numerous names, Dulorme will face Figueroa on Aug. 17 at the Revel Casino-Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. The fight will land on the undercard of middleweight titlist Daniel Geale's defense against Darren Barker.
While Geale-Barker and junior featherweight Jonathan "Momo" Romero's defense against Kiko Martinez will air live on HBO, Dulorme-Figueroa will air later that night on tape delay on HBO Latino in Spanish as part of the network's initiative to highlight some of boxing's up-and-coming Hispanic fighters.
Dulorme (18-1, 13 KOs), 23, of Puerto Rico, was on everyone's short list of top prospects until he was stopped in the seventh round by Luis Carlos Abregu in October. But he was rushed into that fight. Dulorme wasn't ready for somebody the caliber of Abregu, and he paid the price.
He has won both of his fights since, a first-round knockout of Eddie Brooks followed by an eight-round decision against Ben Ankrah in April.
Dulorme was originally supposed to fight former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora, who has been at junior welterweight in recent years, on Aug. 17, but Spadafora ultimately pulled out of the fight. Then came the endless list of other possibilities, including Nick Casal, Vernon Paris and Ricardo Williams Jr., to name a few. But for a variety of reasons, none of them worked out.
New York's Figueroa (20-5-1), a 35-year-old who is originally from Puerto Rico, has been stopped only once, and that was by huge puncher Randall Bailey in 2009. But including that fight, Figueroa is 0-3-1 in his past four fights. He also didn't fight in 2010 or 2011 before returning in 2012 and losing twice. At least he is durable and ought to provide Dulorme with some rounds.
Whomever Romero faces, the fight will be the co-feature on the card headlined by middleweight titlist Daniel Geale (29-1, 15 KOs) of Australia, who will be making his American debut in a defense against England's Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KOs), whose only loss came by 11th-round knockout against Martinez in a 2011 championship fight in Atlantic City.
Welterweight prospect Thomas Dulorme (18-1, 13 KOs) of Puerto Rico will also be on the card, and his bout will be televised on HBO Latino. Dulorme was being lined up to face former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora (48-0-1, 19 KOs), who has been fighting at junior welterweight and welterweight for the past several years. However, according to HBO, after going far down the road on a deal, Spadafora ultimately rejected the fight. Dulorme's team is still searching for an opponent.
• Assuming Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. gets his visa issues worked out and his planned fight with Brian Vera goes on as planned at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, Top Rank and HBO are planning for Las Vegas welterweight Jesse Vargas (22-0, 9 KOs) to be in the televised co-feature. HBO and Top Rank want to match him with Luis Carlos Abregu (35-1, 28 KOs), but Vargas' team has so far balked at the match, according to Top Rank.
• Ryota Murata, the heralded 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist from Japan, will make his pro debut Aug. 25 in Tokyo. He'll face Akio Shibata (21-7-1, 9 KOs) in a scheduled six-rounder. Murata recently signed a co-promotional contract with Akihiko Honda's Teiken Boxing, the No. 1 promoter in Japan, and Top Rank, which will handle any of his bouts outside of Japan. Murata's gold medal was the first for a Japanese boxer in the Olympics since Takao Sakurai claimed one at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Murata is also the first Japanese fighter to win an Olympic medal in a division other than bantamweight or flyweight.
• Puerto Rican flyweight prospect Jonathan "Bomba" Gonzalez (13-0, 11 KOs) is stepping up his level of opposition in a major way. He will face former junior flyweight champion Giovani Segura (29-3-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico on Aug. 17 in a 10-rounder in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Promoter Peter Rivera said that the winner could face flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada, who will first defend against Milan Melindo on July 27 (HBO2) in Macau, China.
"Segura beat two times our champion Ivan Calderon, and the fight is a fight that Bomba always has told us he wanted since he started his professional career," Rivera said.
• Middleweight titlist/knockout artist Gennady Golovkin is steadily building his name and audience. According to Nielsen, Golovkin's vicious third-round body-shot knockout of Matthew Macklin on Saturday drew 1.1 million viewers, the biggest audience of GGG's three HBO fights. It was a 35 percent increase over his January undercard fight against Gabriel Rosado, which drew 813,000 viewers -- a nice increase over his HBO debut last year against Grzegorz Proksa, which drew 685,000 viewers for a main event. What it means is that Golovkin is clearly gaining an audience with each successive fight.
• British lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell (33-2, 24 KOs), 28, was blown out in his most recent fight, getting stopped in the fourth round by titleholder Ricky Burns in September. Mitchell will return Saturday in London against Sebastien Benito (10-6, 3 KOs) of France for what should be a routine destruction. The scheduled 10-rounder is designed to get Mitchell back in the ring so that he can shake off some rust and move back in the direction of another title shot.
"It's a great division, and I want to get back up there," Mitchell said. "Where do I see myself in it? I want to be a world champion. I'm not here to mess around and play games, be second best and get stopped in four rounds. I'm in it for the long haul and I want to beat the top boys. Anthony Crolla just beat Gavin Rees [last Saturday], and they both interest me, and I'll be keeping a close eye on the Derry Mathews and Tommy Coyle fight next week. There are some big British dust-ups out there, and I love those fights as much as the fans and TV do. I want to correct the loss against Ricky for the world title and become a world champion. I've been out of the ring for too long and it's time to get back in there. I feel a lot of relief, really, as I feel like I've got something to work."
• The Aug. 16 season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" is shaping up to be an excellent card, which will take place at U.S. Cellular Field, the home stadium of the Chicago White Sox. Two popular Polish fighters are on the card in good looking fights. Light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs) takes on former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo (21-5-1, 8 KOs) in the main event while heavyweight Artur Szpillka (14-0, 11 KOs) faces Chicago's Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KOs) in a rematch of their pier-six brawl in February on the undercard. Szpillka won by sixth-round knockout after being down twice. It was a sensational fight that was on an ESPN2 card, but only aired on ESPN3.com after the telecast went off the air. ESPN2 plans to re-air the first fight during the Aug. 16 show and it is not to be missed.
• The search goes on for an opponent to face featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs) on the July 13 Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat undercard (Showtime) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Golden Boy had hoped to convince former featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez to accept the fight but, according to matchmaker Eric Gomez, it's a no-go.
• Promoter Gary Shaw has moved his Aug. 17 HBO tripleheader, which is topped by middleweight titlist Daniel Geale in a defense against Darren Barker, from Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y. to the Revel resort in Atlantic City, N.J. The other two televised bouts are not set yet, but one of them likely will involve junior featherweight titlist Jonathan Romero.
• Super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz (44-3, 25 KOs) has signed a multi-fight contract with German network SAT.1 and will fight his first bout under the deal on July 13 in Dresden, Germany, although he does not yet have an opponent for the defense. After Stieglitz stopped Arthur Abraham in the fourth round to regain his title in their March 23 rematch, both fighters professed interest in a rubber match. But forget about that now that Stieglitz is signed to SAT.1 and Abraham promoter Sauerland Event has its events exclusively on ARD, in what amounts to the German version of HBO versus Showtime in America.
• Beginning with Saturday's card from the Bell Centre in Montreal, HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley resumes those duties on the "Boxing After Dark" series. Lampley, who already calls the fights for HBO PPV fights and the "World Championship Boxing" series, replaces Bob Papa, who had called the fights on BAD since 2007. Before that, Lampley had called the fights on the series since its inception in 1996. According to HBO, Papa is leaving the role because of his expanded duties at the Golf Channel. "The emergence of date conflicts made the juggling of schedules impractical," HBO said in a statement. "Bob will remain connected to the HBO family so we can call on him in situations such as a split-site doubleheader when two broadcast teams are needed."
In September, Sturm was upset by split decision in Germany by Australia's Daniel Geale in a world title unification bout. In February, Sturm lost another tight decision in Germany to another Australian, perennial contender Sam Soliman, in a title elimination bout.
However, Soliman tested positive for a banned substance after the fight and the result was changed to a no-contest, leaving the mandatory position in limbo as to who would get a shot at Geale (who, meantime, will defend against Darren Barker on Aug. 17).
There remains controversy over the Soliman-Sturm result because of issues regarding the testing procedure, which agency handled the testing and where the samples were tested. Soliman, who is suspended in Germany but likely could be licensed in Australia, is appealing the ruling.
At the annual IBF convention, which recently wrapped up in Berlin, the organization clarified its position on the mandatory status. Since Soliman's case will take time, the IBF is allowing him to keep his No. 1 position (pending the outcome of the legal appeal) while Sturm will be allowed to participate in another elimination bout, possibly against the obscure Predrag Radosevic (27-0, 9 KOs) of Montenegro, who is next in the IBF's ratings but has never faced anyone halfway decent. If Soliman loses his appeal, the winner of the Sturm eliminator would get the next mandatory title shot against the Geale-Barker winner.
"My loss to Geale was unlucky," Sturm said. "I know I can do better than I did back in September. I'm sure there will be a rematch down the road. But the fans will already see the return of the real Felix Sturm in my next fight. I don't want to say much about the Sam Soliman doping scandal anymore. I stated numerous times that there is no room for cheaters in sports, and I stand by that. I can promise my fans that I'll be middleweight champion for a fourth time pretty soon. I'm 100 percent sure that I have that in me."
Sturm is expected to announce his July 6 opponent in the coming days.
The win was Lee's second in a row since getting stopped in the seventh round in a middleweight world title fight by then-titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last June in El Paso, Texas.
It was also Lee's second fight with new trainer Adam Booth, who Lee hired after longtime trainer and close friend Emanuel Steward died in October.
Ireland's Lee (30-2, 21 KOs), 28, who now trains with Booth in England, stunned fellow southpaw Cunningham (28-5, 11 KOs), 38, of Detroit, with a left hand and was all over him. He trapped Cunningham on the ropes and let his punches fly. Cunningham was taking heavy punishment when referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stepped in.
"Onward and upward from here," Lee said after the fight. "I feel like I am at the top of my game right now and obviously the No. 1 guy in the middleweight division is Sergio Martinez and that is the fight I want. We have the same promoter in Lou DiBella, so I feel like it is an easy fight to make and one that is very attractive for the middleweight division. I know that Sergio is taking some time off [because of a knee injury], but I'll be ready for him once he is ready to go."
DiBella was impressed with Lee's performance.
"It was very explosive," DiBella said. "He came out like he had the intention to hurt him from the get-go and he did. I thought it was very impressive. Adam Booth told me before the last fight, 'You gotta give me a couple of fights with him because we're working on some things, so it won't happen in one fight.' But Andy looked like a beast.
"I think he's ready to go into a more substantial fight and there are tremendous fights to be made in the middleweight division."
With Martinez on the sidelines, probably until at least next spring, DiBella mentioned some other potential opponents for Lee, including Martin Murray, Darren Barker and the winner of the June 29 fight between titleholder Gennady Golovkin and Matthew Macklin.
With Lee being from Ireland and Murray, Barker and Macklin (who is Irish) all being from England, DiBella noted that those fights are a natural.
DiBella also said that he would like to try to get Lee a shot at titlist Daniel Geale of Australia, whose next fight likely will be in the United States on promoter Gary Shaw's HBO "Boxing After Dark" card in August.
"That's a fight we would be very interested in and I think that would be a helluva fight in the ring," DiBella said.
I woke up early on Wednesday, came down to my office before dawn and watched a nice Internet stream as Daniel Geale toyed with Anthony Mundine to retain his middleweight title in Sydney, Australia.
Geale, who I consider the best middleweight in the world not named Sergio Martinez, outclassed Mundine in a battle of Australians as Geale gained revenge for his only loss, a 12-round split decision against Mundine in 2009. Since then, Geale’s star has risen while the overrated Mundine’s has sunk.
The rematch was an entertaining fight, but it was all Geale, who didn’t look like he had even been in a fight afterward. The scores were all for Geale, 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112. As far as I am concerned it wasn’t even that close. I had it 119-109 for Geale.
Geale, 31, worked him over with combinations, landed a lot of solid right hands and forced him backward for much of the fight. The slower, stiffer Mundine (44-5, 26 KOs), 37, did not look like he had much on the few punches that landed either.
Mundine is obviously living in a fantasy world, because after the fight, he tweeted, “Hate seriously blind people! I dictated (the fight), caught him with more shots and power shots! Told you this would happen if didn’t KO him.”
Caught him with more shots? Ummm, OK. Whatever. Mundine has always been a sore loser, so it’s no surprise that he is as delusional as ever.
But forget Mundine’s nonsense. This is about Geale (29-1, 15 KOs), a fine fighter who romped to victory in an encore to his upset split decision win against Felix Sturm (in Germany) in September to unify middleweight belts, even though he was forced to vacate one of the titles in order to take this big-money rematch with Mundine instead of facing Gennady Golovkin in a mandatory defense.
I’d love to see Geale-Golovkin as much as anyone, but I can’t blame Geale for going home for a big fight for big money instead of facing the very dangerous Golovkin for less money.
Geale-Golovkin could become a big fight. Geale is ready to come to America and Golovkin is gaining steam here after two knockout wins in his last two fights, both on HBO and in the United States. HBO wants to sign Golovkin to a contract.
After the fight, Geale, who is with American promoter Gary Shaw, said he wants to come to America to fight and Shaw has also said he wants to bring him here. Geale should be welcome here with open arms. He has an aggressive fan friendly style and he’s very well spoken. I met him and interviewed him in September in Las Vegas and he made a great impression. Fans in the United States will love him.
Since I don’t happen to think a Golovkin fight will be made right away, and Geale still wants to fight in the U.S., the perfect fight would be against contender Matthew Macklin, the Irishman from England, who lives in New York. Macklin is also an exciting fighter and has nothing lined up at the moment.
Macklin, who is with promoter Lou DiBella (who is partners with Shaw on some fighters and could make a deal with him in probably about 15 minutes) gave Martinez, the real middleweight champion, a run for his money in a very spirited fight in last March. Macklin dropped Martinez in the seventh round before being stopped in the 11th round.
In the fight before that, Macklin challenged then-titleholder Sturm for his belt and lost a split decision that was one of the worst of 2011. Many, myself included, thought Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) beat Sturm easily but was robbed in a hometown decision.
Geale-Macklin is a can’t-miss fight that would make a lot of sense for HBO – which is heavily invested at middleweight and super middleweight because of its ties to Martinez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Golovkin and Andre Ward.
Macklin told me after Geale’s victory that it’s a fight he wants. He also tweeted about it: “I beat Sturm, didn't get the decision, he did get decision. Let’s get it on! Fight makes sense to everyone. The only reason it doesn't happen is if Geale doesn't fancy it.”
Give Geale a little time to enjoy his victory and Shaw, DiBella and HBO a chance to talk and I think it might happen.
Geale and Felix Sturm went into their unification bout in September knowing full well that the winner was obligated to fight Golovkin, at the time the "regular" titlist, in his next fight.
Sturm already had put off the fight multiple times, and the Golovkin camp wasn't going to put up with any more delays. So when Geale won the belt to go along with his IBF title, he knew the deal: Fight Golovkin next, or bye-bye, WBA strap.
Now, I don't blame Geale one iota for electing to defend his IBF belt against Anthony Mundine, which is the fight on the board for him in January. Both hail from Australia, and it's a big-deal rematch there because it was Mundine who handed Geale his only loss, in 2009.
No, Geale is not ducking Golovkin, as some have suggested. It's simply a matter of economics. At the moment, fighting Mundine is far more lucrative than fighting Golovkin.
"Whilst I enjoyed unifying titles and being crowned the WBA super champion, it has become ultimately clear to me that it is impossible to keep all the belts," Geale said. "I am aware of my mandatory obligations. However, I felt that the challenge from Anthony Mundine was an opportunity to settle the score once and for all, and I want to thank the IBF for granting me the exception that creates a fight which will please all Australian boxing fans. As I proudly remain the IBF world champion, I wish the WBA and whoever they crown the same short-lived pleasure, as I will be coming to reclaim what is rightfully mine."
Geale-Golovkin was due by Dec. 31, and with a January fight against Mundine set, that fight wasn't going to happen before the deadline. So now Golovkin is the WBA's only titleholder at 160 pounds, for now, anyway.
"We don't blame Geale and his team for taking a safer fight," said K2 promoter Tom Loeffler, who promotes Golovkin. "However, they knew the obligations they would have prior to the Sturm fight. Geale is still IBF champion, and if he continues to win, this might be a great unification fight in the future."
Loeffler's position on Geale taking the safer fight is disingenuous. He knows well that Geale (28-1, 25 KOs) will make a lot more money by facing Mundine (44-4, 26 KOs) instead of Golovkin. If Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs) were in the same position, Loeffler would have him take the more lucrative fight, too, and he knows it.
One thing Loeffler is right about, however, is that a Geale-Golovkin fight down the road would be a fine match.
While Geale and Mundine will tangle on a January date to be determined, Golovkin likely will be back in action Jan. 19 on HBO at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
K2 already has the building reserved and the date from the New York State Athletic Commission, from what I am told.
No opponent is set, but two names are under discussion: super middleweight contenders Thomas Oosthuizen (20-0-1, 13 KOs) and Edwin Rodriguez (22-0, 15 KOs), both of whom are promoted by Lou DiBella. South Africa's Oosthuizen, a 6-foot-4 handful of a southpaw, would have to get through a Nov. 10 fight against Fulgencio Zuniga to stay in the running.
If Golovkin faces either of them, they would meet at a catchweight of about 165 pounds.
Golovkin, trainer Abel Sanchez and K2 promoter Tom Loeffler hoped HBO would bring him right back. Obviously the network, which is heavily invested in the middleweight and super middleweight divisions as the TV home for Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., said it hoped to have Golovkin back soon.
The problem is that HBO already has a good-looking schedule that is virtually set for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any room for the man called GGG.
"Although I told HBO that GGG wanted to fight before the end of the year if he looked as good as we all said he would, they seem to have filled their schedule with other fighters," Loeffler said Tuesday.
But that doesn't mean Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs), a 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan who now trains in the United States, is going to sit around and wait for the HBO check. He plans to get back to work with or without the network's backing.
"We are planning a date in Europe for him in December, and HBO has planned a March date for him, but details are not all finalized yet for either fight," Loeffler said.
Unified titlist Daniel Geale (28-1, 15 KOs) of Australia, another quality middleweight whom HBO is interested in, has a mandatory against Golovkin that is coming due by the end of the year -- one he inherited after beating Felix Sturm to unify belts on Sept. 1 in Germany. But there has been no movement on the Geale-Golovkin match. It's a terrific fight on paper, but it doesn't make a lot of economic sense at the moment, even though hard-core fans would eat it up.
Still, one thing you can probably count on is that, due or not, we aren't going to see a Geale-Golovkin fight before the end of the year -- or even early next year.
Loeffler said the Golovkin side would like the fight, but it's doubtful that it will happen right away unless HBO makes a crazy offer. I don't see that happening.
"It seems Geale will not fight him, similar to Sturm, so we will continue to put pressure on the WBA to strip him if he decides to take another fight," Loeffler said. "The WBA resolution is clear that the winner of Sturm-Geale [has to] fight him by Dec. 31."
Naturally, I'd like to see Geale-Golovkin. But I'm also a realist. At this point, I just want to see Golovkin back in the ring ASAP against a good opponent on whatever American network will have him for his next fight. He's must-see TV.
Andre Ward's dominant knockout victory against Chad Dawson prompted major changes in the September pound-for-pound rankings.
I saw many comments -- good and bad -- from folks on Twitter and my Facebook page. Many asked why this guy or that guy wasn't in the top 20. The main reason certain fighters were excluded was quite simple -- they are talented but haven't yet had the kind of significant win to earn a spot, or haven't had any sort of longevity yet to make it.
It got me thinking about the future of the P4P list and who is on the cusp of breaking into the top 20. There are many fine fighters out there, but I came up with a list of 10 who, with the right fights and/or some more experience against better opponents, could soon find themselves ranked on the monthly list.
Here they are, listed in alphabetical order:
• Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs): Alvarez has massive star potential. The question is, can his résumé catch up to his current level of attraction? He has made five defenses of his junior middleweight belt, but they've all been against B- and C-level opponents, the shadow of Shane Mosley and the much-smaller Josesito Lopez. Alvarez has shined against them, but he needs to step up against a better grade of opponent to warrant inclusion.
• Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KOs): He has a style similar to Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s, as well as similar potential. What he doesn't have are any wins against a significant opponent or any longevity with a title. He won a vacant junior lightweight belt against a nobody, made one defense (a one-sided blowout of decent opponent Eloy Perez) and then blew weight for a defense against Vicente Escobedo. He's moving up to lightweight and probably will face titlist Antonio DeMarco, whom I have ranked No. 1 at 135 pounds. If the fight happens and Broner beats DeMarco impressively, he's on his way.
• Daniel Geale (28-1, 15 KOs): He's coming off a big win -- albeit a very close one -- to Felix Sturm to unify a pair of alphabet middleweight belts. He won both of his belts by split decision in Germany (the first against Sebastian Sylvester), which had been unheard of until now. I'd say one more win against another titleholder or top-rated contender in the suddenly hot middleweight division ought to do the trick.
• Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs): The middleweight titlist already seems likely to crack the list in the near future. He had a monster amateur career (Olympic silver winner to top it off) and has been ferocious as a pro. He has some solid B-level names on his record, such as Grzegorz Proksa and Kassim Ouma, although that's not enough to put him on the P4P list yet. But with a willingness to fight anyone and the skills to match, he should be there soon. Give him maybe three more fights against quality opponents.
• Roman Gonzalez (32-0, 27 KOs): He is already a two-division titlist and still only 25, but although the reigning junior flyweight titleholder has a stellar record and is one of the biggest punchers, pound for pound, he simply needs to fight a better grade of opponent. He has held a belt at either 105 or 108 pounds since 2008, but his competition hasn't matched his ability.
• Yoan Pablo Hernandez (27-1, 13 KOs): Hernandez was a tremendous amateur from the Cuban national team who defected and has won a cruiserweight title. He has all of the skills in the world, although he isn't always exciting to watch. That's got nothing to do with ability, though. With four solid victories in a row -- a Sept. 15 defense against talented Troy Ross, two against Steve Cunningham (although the first one was controversial) and a knockout of Steve Herelius -- Hernandez is right on the cusp of cracking the list.
• Erislandy Lara (17-1-1, 11 KOs): Lara, a former world amateur champion from the powerhouse Cuban national team, is on the verge of big things. His biggest fight was against Paul Williams, who had been a longtime pound-for-pound list stalwart. Lara got ripped off in a majority decision loss so horrible that New Jersey officials suspended the three judges assigned to the bout. Lara has fought twice since, crushing Ronald Hearns in one round and dominating Freddy Hernandez. He has another big test that will go a long way toward showing his pound-for-pound worth when he faces fellow top-10 154-pound contender Vanes Martirosyan Nov. 10 for the right to become Canelo Alvarez's mandatory challenger.
• Lucas Matthysse (32-2, 30 KOs): There are few offensive forces in boxing scarier than Matthysse, who usually blasts out his opponents. His two losses were controversial split decisions in the hometowns of quality opponents Devon Alexander and Zab Judah. Since the loss to Alexander in June 2011, Matthysse has looked superb against quality opponents, crushing Humberto Soto in five rounds in June and stopping Olusegun Ajose in the 10th round to win a vacant interim junior welterweight belt Sept. 8. A couple more showings like those against good opponents and Matthysse will crack the list.
• Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs): The former two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist is already one of the most skilled fighters in the world, and he has good two-fisted power to go with it. He makes everything look so easy in the ring. He crushed Rico Ramos in six rounds to win a belt in January and rolled in two defenses, a fifth-round knockout of Teon Kennedy in June and a lopsided decision against Robert Marroquin on Sept. 15. He is definitely on his way to pound-for-pound status. He just needs a few more similarly solid wins.
• Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KOs): Santa Cruz might be a bit of a long shot, but he has a chance because of his overwhelmingly aggressive style. He won a vacant bantamweight belt in June by throwing well over 1,000 punches in a dominant performance against Vusi Malinga, whom I viewed as a legitimate opponent. On Sept. 15, he crushed veteran former flyweight titlist Eric Morel in five one-sided rounds. With regular activity and a significant win or two, he could be right there. Santa Cruz is likely headed for junior featherweight after a November defense. Golden Boy is obviously positioning him to fight the winner of the Abner Mares-Anselmo Moreno fight. If it happens and Santa Cruz were to win, he'd probably find a place in the top 20.