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In an expected collision of big punchers, middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin, whose 88.9 knockout percentage is the best among active world titleholders, will make his ninth defense when he faces fellow vaunted knockout artist Curtis Stevens on Nov. 2.
The HBO-televised main event will take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, a home game for Stevens, who is from Brooklyn.
The bout has been in the works for several weeks, but it was signed Wednesday, both fighters' promoters told ESPN.com. News conferences in New York and Los Angeles are in the works for next week.
"Gennady has proven himself to be one of the most popular fighters in the sport. Since his knockout over Matthew Macklin in June, there has been an unprecedented amount of interest from fans and media about his next fight," said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, which represents Golovkin. "While many of the top names in the middleweight division have been reluctant to fight Gennady, we commend Curtis Stevens for the direct and aggressive path he's taken to making this world title bout."
Indeed, Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs), 28, who dropped down to middleweight from super middleweight in 2012, has been calling out Golovkin, something few others have dared to do.
Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs), 31, who was born in Kazakhstan, lives in Germany and trains in the United States, has been terrorizing the 160-pound division with a series of brutal knockouts. He has scored 14 consecutive stoppages and has not heard the final bell since an eight-round decision win in 2008.
Golovkin has been particularly impressive in his three defenses this year: a bloody seventh-round beatdown of Gabriel Rosado, also at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, in January; a third-round knockout of Nobuhiro Ishida in March that was so devastating it is a knockout of the year candidate; and a third-round knockout of top contender Macklin on a single body shot June 29.
"Everyone put ya money on 'GGG' so I could be like 30-1. I could get more money," Stevens tweeted Wednesday.
Although Stevens will be the underdog, he looms as the most formidable puncher Golovkin will have faced. In his three fights in 2013, Stevens has scored booming first-round knockouts in two of them, against Elvin Ayala in January and Saul Roman on Aug. 3.
"I think it's a really great fight in the ring and we have a real live 'dog here," said Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva, Stevens' promoter. "Curtis has to fight a different fight than Macklin did, that's for sure, but there's no point to talking about the strategy. Curtis has the opportunity, and now he has to capitalize on it.
"He has a great amateur background and world-class punch. Golovkin is a tremendous puncher, and I think he's the best middleweight in the world, but when you have skills and a world-class punch like Curtis has, you can beat anyone. For anyone who doubts that Curtis can do it, I have two words for them: Jhonny Gonzalez."
Duva was referring to the big-punching, newly crowned featherweight titleholder, who was a significant underdog but knocked out Abner Mares in the first round Saturday night in a stunning outcome.
Although the HBO co-feature is not signed yet, the fight in the works is a heavyweight bout between southpaws Mike Perez (19-0, 12 KOs), 27, a native of Cuba based in Ireland, and Magomed Abdusalamov (18-0, 18 KOs), 32, of Russia.