By Keith Idec
Gennady Golovkin overwhelmed Mokoto Fuchigami in three rounds on Saturday night in Brovary, Ukraine. The WBA has ruled that Felix Sturm, its super champion at 160 pounds, must fight Golovkin by Sept. 30. That’s what Golovkin (23-0, 10 20 KOs) and his handlers want, but they’re not certain Sturm (37-2-2, 16 KOs) will embrace the long-overdue fight.
“After this fight here, we’ll see exactly where Sturm stands, in accordance with that resolution from the WBA,” said Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, which represents Golovkin. “I think Sturm, at this point, holds the record for being a champion the longest amount of time without having a mandatory defense.
“Gennady was, about two years ago, the mandatory when he was the interim champion and Sturm was the regular champion. Then Sturm got elevated to super champion status, so for the last two years Gennady has tried to fight him. So hopefully, at this point it’ll happen before September.”
Golovkin, a native of Kazakhstan who resides in Stuttgart, Germany, and Sturm trained together in the same Hamburg, Germany gym for many years, when both boxers were promoted by Universum. Though they’ve always fought in the same weight class, they never even sparred against each other. Golovkin suspects Sturm’s intimate knowledge of Golovkin’s skills is what has stopped Sturm from fighting him.
Nevertheless, Golovkin hopes he and Sturm determine the identity of the real WBA middleweight champion by fighting, not by having attorneys try to get the WBA to strip Sturm.
“I think that Felix will get in the ring with me before September,” Golovkin said. “He knows me. I know him. I want this fight.”
Golovkin really wants bigger fights and exposure in the United States. The 30-year-old Golovkin visited New York in March, when he met with executives at HBO, Showtime and EPIX, and attended the Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin fight in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Loeffler said EPIX probably will broadcast the Golovkin-Fuchigami fight on delay July 7, along with live coverage of the Wladimir Klitschko-Tony Thompson heavyweight championship rematch in Berne, Switzerland. EPIX executives also expressed interest in televising a Golovkin-Sturm match if it materializes.
HBO and Showtime executives were receptive to working with Golovkin, too, but he’ll need another middleweight champion or another known opponent to agree to fight him before that happens.
“His English is getting better and he really wants to fight in the States,” Loeffler said. “That’s his ultimate goal, to become well-known in the United States, because living in Germany he knows everything that happens in the United States is bigger and to be really successful, and to be considered a dominant champion, he wants to be successful in the United States.”
IBF middleweight title-holder Daniel Geale (27-1, 15 KOs), of Australia, and WBO middleweight champ Dmitry Pirog (20-0, 15 KOs), of Russia, are expected to meet in a unification fight Aug. 25. And Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs), the undisputed middleweight champion, won’t consider facing Golovkin until he raises his profile in the United States. If Sturm won’t fight him, either, Golovkin says he is willing to move up to 168 pounds or down to 154 pounds for the right fight.
“I think that in order to get that recognition as the best middleweight in the world, that we think he is, he needs to be seen,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer. “And we just can’t seem to get anybody in the ring with him. … Felix has dodged him for two years and continues to dodge him.
“It’s just a matter of getting a credible opponent in the ring. We worked on one through nine [in the WBA rankings] in this last training camp, trying to schedule an opponent [Fuchigami is ranked No. 8]. Nobody wants to fight him. He’s a high-risk, low-reward type of fighter. Hopefully that’ll change in 2012.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.