<
>

Gennady Golovkin, Billy Joe Saunders in talks for unification fight

Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin's goal for the past several years has been to unify the four major 160-pound belts -- and he got halfway there on Oct. 17 when he beat and battered David Lemieux into a one-sided eighth-round knockout victory to annex his title.

Now Golovkin might have a chance to add world title belt No. 3 to his collection as his promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, and Frank Warren, the promoter for titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, have begun discussing a possible deal for an April unification fight that would headline an HBO-televised card and take place in the United States.

"We made a significant offer to Frank Warren as it is still GGG's priority to unify all the middleweight titles," Loeffler told ESPN.com. "The unification fight with Billy Joe Saunders would be at the top of the list for the next fight. They are interested but no response yet."

Golovkin, who also holds an interim belt, is on course for a further unification fight with champion Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs), but their camps recently agreed to put off the mandatory fight until at least fall 2016 in order to build the fight into a major event. Meanwhile, Golovkin and Alvarez, who outpointed Miguel Cotto to win a belt and the lineal title on Nov. 21, plan to fight interim bouts -- with Golovkin going in April and Alvarez slated to fight May 7 (on Cinco de Mayo weekend) against an opponent to be determined.

Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs), 26, of England, claimed his belt on Dec. 19 when he knocked Ireland's Andy Lee down twice in the third round and went on to win a majority decision in Manchester, England.

The 33-year-old Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs), who is from Kazakhstan and lives in Los Angeles, had hoped Lee, who has fought regularly in the United States and is a well-known name with a loyal Irish fan base, would beat Saunders and fight him next. Now Saunders, though much less known, is the target.

"Saunders just had a big win over Andy Lee, and this fight would generate a lot of worldwide interest," Loeffler said.

Warren said the decision over whether their side takes the fight will come down to money.

"We have been in communication with Gennady Golovkin's people, who have approached us with a firm offer of a unification fight with Triple G," Warren said. "I know Billy Joe has intimated he may not be quite ready for this, but money talks louder than anything in boxing and such are the sums involved it is one certainly worth considering.

"We will be sitting down to talk about the future with Billy Joe once he has enjoyed his break. He has some really tasty options out there, and whatever happens we will come up with something really special."

Loeffler said whomever Golovkin faces in April, he is already talking to sites about hosting the fight.

"Madison Square Garden is very interested in bringing back GGG as he is the first one to completely sell out MSG for a while for boxing," said Loeffler, who was referring to the capacity crowd of 20,548 that Golovkin drew for the fight with Lemieux. "Texas [venues are] also very interested in hosting a GGG fight there for the first time and, naturally, The Forum in L.A."

Golovkin, who is riding a 21-fight knockout streak and has made 15 consecutive title defenses (second-longest streak in middleweight history) drew a raucous crowd of 12,372 to The Forum for his sixth-round knockout of Willie Monroe Jr. on May 16.