By Keith Idec
If the WBA denies Daniel Geale the fight he really wants – a shot at middleweight monster Gennady Golovkin – the former middleweight title-holder suddenly has an attractive alternative.
While Geale and his promoter, Gary Shaw, held out hope Sunday that they’ll be able to finalize a July 26 fight against Golovkin at Madison Square Garden, Shaw also acknowledged that a Geale-Sam Soliman showdown would do big business in Australia. Soliman soundly defeated Germany’s Felix Sturm in their 12-round rematch Saturday in Krefeld, Germany.
The 40-year-old Soliman (44-11, 18 KOs, 1 NC), who was born and raised in Melbourne, will now be afforded an optional defense of the IBF middleweight title Geale owned until nine months ago, when he lost it to England’s Darren Barker (26-2, 16 KOs). Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) is ranked No. 3 by the IBF, but could move up by the time the IBF’s next rankings are released. The No. 2 spot is vacant and Soliman was the No. 1 contender to Sturm (39-4-2, 18 KOs, 1 NC), whom Geale beat by split decision in September 2012.
“He doesn’t have to fight Geale,” Shaw said, “so I don’t know what Soliman would do. But I don’t know who he’s going to fight for any kind of money other than Daniel Geale. That would be the money fight. I think it would be a very big fight in Australia. Daniel is loved there and he’s a two-time former world champion. I think it would be a very big fight. It’s not the type of fight that would draw 80,000 or anywhere near that number, but in Australia it would be a big fight.”
The 33-year-old Geale still has his sights set on challenging Golovkin, though. HBO Sports executives have approved Geale as Golovkin’s opponent July 26, but Golovkin’s handlers at K2 Promotions and Shaw are awaiting word from the WBA regarding Golovkin’s request for an exception. The WBA recently ordered Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs) to face another Australian, Jarrod Fletcher (18-1, 10 KOs), in his next bout because Fletcher is the leading available contender. Fletcher is ranked No. 2 by the WBA, just one spot ahead of Geale.
HBO Sports executives won’t approve the unproven Fletcher for a fight against Golovkin on the network, however, which could leave Golovkin in a precarious position if the WBA doesn’t agree to either elevate Golovkin to super champion status or grant him an exception to battle Geale. Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, informed Shaw on Sunday that the WBA assured him that the Venezuelan sanctioning organization would render a decision by Monday.
If the WBA approves Golovkin-Geale, a news conference to officially announce the fight will be held Saturday before the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto middleweight title fight at Madison Square Garden (HBO Pay-Per-View; $64.95 in HD; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“Hopefully we’ll get the go-ahead from the WBA [on Monday] and we’ll go forward with the fight,” Shaw said. “You never know. All I can say is I’m hopeful they’ll grant the exception because Geale really wants to fight Golovkin.”
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.