- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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LOS ANGELES -- Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin's April 26 fight with Andy Lee was canceled after the death of his father and the ensuing mourning period, but he's ready to roll again.
After spending time with his family in his native Kazakhstan and then at his home in Germany, Golovkin arrived back in the United States last week to begin training with Abel Sanchez in the California mountains for his new date, July 26 at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin would have preferred to be moving up to super middleweight to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on July 19 in an HBO PPV main event at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., but when Chavez and his promoter, Top Rank, could not make a deal, Golovkin moved on.
Now Golovkin will headline a regular HBO card, probably against former middleweight titlist Daniel Geale of Australia. The intended co-feature is a rescheduling of the heavyweight title eliminator between Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings, which was supposed to be on Saturday before Perez injured his shoulder.
Golovkin and promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, along with Sanchez, met with a small group of boxing reporters to discuss the situation on Saturday at the fight hotel a few hours before Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado.
Certainly, Golovkin was disappointed that Chavez and Top Rank could not come to terms. He had agreed to the fight weeks earlier and was waiting on Chavez.
"That was disappointing. I was so confident about the fight," Golovkin said. "I hope it will happen sometime soon. By that time, I will be stronger and it will be bigger. By the time the fight will happen, I will be more prepared. I hope that this fight will happen at some point. It will be a very big show. I hope."
Loeffler said they waited for Chavez as long as they could before moving on.
"We agreed to all the terms on our side. We made a lot of concessions," Loeffler said. "We didn't ask for a catch weight. We made a lot of financial concessions. It was clear that Chavez was going to get the larger part of the guarantee to get in the ring with Gennady. But we looked at that fight as the opportunity to be his first [United States] fight on pay-per-view and his first fight here on the West Coast.
"We made it clear to Bob that we really delayed this HBO show [on July 26] probably two or three weeks past our deadline in the hope that Bob could still deliver Chavez. We couldn't wait any longer so we went ahead with July 26 and if he can get Chavez to sign for November or December, we'd be happy to do that. If not, then [Golovkin will] fight again on HBO in November."
The plan had been to announce Chavez-Golovkin on April 12 at a news conference on the morning of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"Bob was always very positive he could deliver [Chavez]. The original plan was to announce the fight at the Pacquiao fight," Loeffler said. "So we had made plans for Gennady to fly into Las Vegas. Chavez was at the fight in Las Vegas and had he signed we would have announced the fight at the Pacquiao fight. It didn't happen and then I started getting concerned, and at that point, Bob raised the offer [to Chavez]. He was still confident he could deliver Chavez. We gave him another two weeks and at some point it became clear it wasn't going to happen, at least not for July. We're not ruling Chavez out but it's definitely not going to happen in July. We can't have Gennady wait."
And so that brings us to Geale, who gave up a belt in order to face countryman Anthony Mundine in a lucrative fight rather than face Golovkin in January 2013. Then Geale was offered the April 26 fight against Golovkin but turned it down because of issues with the date for an Australian pay-per-view. Even though the WBA, whose title Golovkin holds, has ordered him to face incredibly undeserving mandatory challenger Jarrod Fletcher of Australia, Loeffler believes Golovkin will be granted the exception they have applied for in order to fight Geale, who is the best available opponent this side of titleholder Peter Quillin, who comes with baggage because of his ties to Golden Boy, Al Haymon and Showtime.
Loeffler and Geale promoter Gary Shaw are negotiating the fight, which has been approved by HBO and, if it happens, would take place in the main MSG arena, not the smaller Theater, where Golovkin has drawn well in two previous fights.
"It's a big fight," Golovkin said of Geale. "Before he had two belts. I respect everyone. It doesn't matter who I am going to fight."
If the WBA rejects the requests for an exception, Loeffler said Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs) would face Fletcher.
"We'll have to deal with that, but our intention and HBO's intention [is Geale]. ... We're confident the WBA will allow the request. We feel Geale would be the biggest name available."
Golovkin intends to fight a third fight this year in the fall and wants it to be a big one. He said he would like the winner of the June 7 fight between champion Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto.
"It's very interesting for me. Sergio is bigger, he is stronger. Miguel is small, too small for Sergio," Golovkin said. "Of course, I want to fight the person who will win the fight. It would be very big. I want to fight the winner. I am ready to fight all the boxers. I want them to know I am ready for all of the fights. Who wants to fight me? I want to fight all of them."
Eventually, Golovkin will transition from HBO, where he has fought only four times, but has seen tremendous increases in his ratings each time out.
"We believe Gennady is going to be the next pay-per-view star. I really feel that," Loeffler said. "The response that we've gotten over the [U.S.] fights we've done so far -- people forget it has been less than two years since he has been on American television.
"Gennady has had the fastest rising increase in ratings since when he made his [HBO] debut against [Gregorz] Proksa [in September 2012] to the ratings against Curtis Stevens [in November]. Each fight was increasing by 30 percent and the '2 Days' [HBO] special was the highest-rated '2 Days' special, by far."
Golovkin said he is willing to travel to England to fight the winner of the super middleweight title bout rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves. He also has interest in former super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler, who recently announced his plans to fight again after a year layoff and a loss in a terrific rematch against Froch. Chavez is there also, and is the main target.
And there is also super middleweight champion Andre Ward, but with a caveat.
"His name has come up. I think the challenge with Andre is he has the legal issues with his promoter [Dan Goossen] but, secondly, that's not a pay-per-view fight by any means and I think it would be tough to work out that deal," Loeffler said. "It's not a slight against Andre. We have a lot of respect for him. It's just not the most attractive fight when compared to Chavez. There's really no comparison. Same with Kessler or [the Froch-Groves II winner].
"The hard part is not the fight in the ring. It's getting them into the ring to fight him."
After his July 19 date with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fell through at the last minute, unbeaten middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin is weighing options for his July 26 date at New York's Madison Square Garden.