- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Gennady Golovkin is from Kazakhstan and lives in Germany, and Grzegorz Proksa is from Poland and lives in England. They both hope to make a splash in their American debuts.
Golovkin will defend his middleweight world title against European champion Proksa in the main event Sept. 1 of a "Boxing After Dark" doubleheader on HBO at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y., the promoters announced Friday.
"Proksa has never been in the ring with a puncher like me and I'm here to show the world what I'm made of," said Golovkin, who is training for the bout in Big Bear, Calif. "I've wanted to fight in the United States for a long time and look forward to fighting the best middleweights in the world in the near future."
Proksa is one of them.
"I have no doubt in my mind that I have the ability to knock out Golovkin," Proksa said. "My opportunity to showcase my talents to the world has arrived and I'm not going to let it slip away. This will be a difficult fight but I believe in myself to come out victorious and I'm going to bring an aggressive game plan for the fans.
"I'm coming to the U.S. to impress and take home the title."
Golovkin, 30, originally was scheduled to face fellow titleholder Dmitry Pirog. However, Pirog, who was training in his native Russia, ruptured a disk in his back in early July and is out of action for several months.
After Pirog dropped out, the 27-year-old Proksa and American Vanes Martirosyan were the leading candidates to get the fight with Golovkin. From the outset of his plan to fight in the United States, Golovkin and K2 promoter Tom Loeffler said Golovkin would fight whomever the television networks wanted him to fight, and he has lived up to it by accepting every name offered to him.
"Gennady trains in America and is committed to fighting here, where there have been so many middleweight legends," Loeffler said. "We're grateful to HBO for this opportunity to showcase his skills. We strongly feel that he is the best middleweight in the world right now and we're anxious for the world to see that."
Golovkin (23-0, 20 KOs) was a 2004 Olympic silver medalist for Kazakhstan and has made four title defenses (including of the interim belt) in four countries -- Ukraine, Germany, Panama and Kazakhstan.
Proksa (28-1, 21 KOs) scored his biggest win in October, an upset third-round knockout of former world titleholder Sebastian Sylvester to win the vacant European title. However, Proksa lost a majority decision to Kerry Hope in March in another upset. But they met in an immediate rematch July 7 and Proksa dominated Hope en route to an eighth-round knockout to regain the European belt.
"Proksa has waited all his professional life for this opportunity and respects Golovkin for his achievements in the ring," said Barry Hearn of Matchroom Sport, Proksa's promoter. "He knows this will be a tough fight for both fighters and is convinced he can emerge victorious in an entertaining contest. Proksa has one loss on his record when he lost his European title in a controversial points decision in a fight where he suffered a terrible cut via an accidental clash of heads.
"That loss has been avenged via a knockout victory to regain his European crown and he does not intend to suffer a loss in this fight. The fight features the two biggest punchers in the middleweight division and I am convinced that fight will not go the distance."
In the scheduled 12-round co-featured bout, former junior middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs), of Ukraine, will face Puerto Rican prospect Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0, 13 KOs), who turned 23 Thursday.
The fight will be Dzinziruk's first since he moved up to middleweight in March 2011 to challenge lineal champion Sergio Martinez and was dropped five times in a one-sided, eighth-round knockout loss. But Dzinziruk, 36, is unbeaten at 154 pounds.
"It's a fact, that I am unbeatable at junior middleweight," he said. "Gonzalez is a big puncher, but he's never been in the ring with a superior boxer like me. I will end his unbeaten record and move toward another world title. I will be champion once again real soon."
Said Art Pelullo, Dzinziruk's co-promoter with Gary Shaw: "This will be a classic boxer versus puncher matchup and, as we all know, a boxer always beats a puncher. Dzinziruk will be too slick for Gonzalez. Once he wins this fight, we will work to get him another world title shot."
The fight with Dzinziruk is easily the biggest fight of Gonzalez's pro career.
"Fighting on HBO is a big opportunity for me and my team," said Gonzalez, a 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian. "Gary Shaw has come through on his promise to get me on a worldwide stage to showcase my talent. I always bring excitement to the ring and it won't be any different when I face Dzinziruk. My goal is to become champion."
James DeGale became Great Britain's first Olympic gold medalist to win a world title when he outpointed Andre Direll on Saturday in Boston.
After 17 years, the bell will ring for the final time on Friday, ending a tradition that has become so much a part of the boxing landscape that it seems like family.