By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — As a former executive for HBO Sports, promoter Lou DiBella has a unique understanding of what it takes to carefully construct a talented fighter into a star.
DiBella realizes exactly why current HBO Sports executives have matched Gennady Golovkin against Gabriel Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs, 1 NC) and Grzegorz Proska (29-3, 21 KOs), the fighters the hard-hitting Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) has stopped in his first two appearances on the premium cable network. DiBella doesn’t believe, however, that boxing enthusiasts should view Golovkin as an unbeatable beast until he shows he is capable of defeating a big, strong, legitimate middleweight like Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs), his opponent Saturday night in the main event of an HBO tripleheader (9:45 p.m. ET) from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.
“Look, Rosado had some success with [Golovkin] by pushing him backward,” DiBella said. “Matthew’s a whole lot bigger and stronger than Rosado. This isn’t going to be a cakewalk. I’m not saying I know who’s going to win. I don’t. But this isn’t going to be a cakewalk. This is going to be a [bleeping] fight.”
England’s Macklin made Sergio Martinez, another fighter DiBella promotes, work hard for an eventual technical knockout win 15 months ago in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The 31-year-old Macklin was even credited with a questionable seventh-round knockdown against Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), who won when Buddy McGirt, Macklin’s trainer, stopped their scheduled 12-round fight for Martinez’s WBC middleweight title after the 11th round, when Macklin hit the canvas twice.
Even if Golovkin overcomes Macklin in their 12-round fight for Golovkin’s WBA middleweight championship, the 31-year-old Olympic silver medalist might not get a shot at Argentina’s Martinez until 2014, if at all, because Martinez is recovering from hand and knee injuries suffered during an unimpressive unanimous decision defeat of England’s Martin Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs) on April 27 in Buenos Aires. Regardless, DiBella feels Macklin might upset Golovkin, a 14-1 favorite according to several Internet sports books, and eliminate Martinez-Golovkin as a possible middleweight showdown.
“If Matt wins this fight, with Matt’s style, Matt’s a superstar,” DiBella said. “If [Golovkin] wins this fight, then you look at his resume and he’s starting to build a resume that warrants attention, that warrants attention from a guy like Martinez.”
As the Macklin matchup approaches, DiBella considers Kazakhstan’s Golovkin a slightly overrated fighter.
“Is he overhyped?,” DiBella said. “Not based on his amateur career, not based on his ability. His amateur career was tremendous, his ability is tremendous. With all due respect, with who he’s fought as a professional, yeah, he’s overrated. I think he’s great, but I don’t think you can look at the fighters he’s fought and say he has the right to say anyone’s ducked him. He doesn’t.
“When you look at who he’s fought, he doesn’t have a right to say anyone’s ducking him because, honestly, the level of competition has been carefully selected to allow him to have the best knockout percentage in boxing and to allow him to look like the beast that I believe he’s going to grow into. He was a great amateur, he’s a great fighter. But with all due respect, [Nobuhiro] Ishida [Golovkin’s last victim] was shot six years ago and had one lucky punch against [James] Kirkland. Rosado was a 154-pounder, not a 60-pounder.”
Macklin has suffered four pro defeats and has been beaten inside the distance twice, but DiBella believes he’ll truly test Golovkin’s chin, stamina and will in what he expects to be a spectacular action fight.
“If there’s a factor that’s really going to help Matt, it’s that [Golovkin] really hasn’t been in with somebody physically imposing enough to push him backwards,” DiBella said. “And if Matt can push him backwards, this could be World War III. And by the way, if it is World War III, there’s no loser. That’s my greatest hope for the fans and for both fighters, that it’s World War III.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.