By Jake Donovan
Things continue to progress in securing an opponent for Gennady Golovkin, who is due to return to the ring on April 26 in New York City. Plans call for the unbeaten middleweight to have no fewer than four fights this year, mirroring his breakout 2013 campaign.
Golovkin (29-0, 26KO) is coming off of a 7th round stoppage of Osumana Adama, in a middleweight title defense broadcast in over 145 countries—basically everywhere, but Iceland, Romania and the United States. HBO holds the exclusive U.S. broadcasting rights to Golovkin, but was unable to secure a deal to where the bout could broadcast on its sister network HBO2.
While it was a disappointment to stateside fans that were “forced” to scour the Internet for pirate streams in order to watch the rising star in action, the appearance in Monte Carlo was a rousing success on all other levels. Golovkin made his second trip to Monaco in as many years, having fought there last March.
“It’s not often you get to fight in front of royalty,” noted Tom Loeffler, Managing Director of K2 Promotions, Golovkin’s promoter. “In his two shows there, he's played in front of Prince Albert (in attendance for his knockout of Nobuhiro Ishida last March) and Princess Charlene. It was just a great situation for Gennady. We will continue to keep him active throughout the year and at least one fight per year overseas—not exclusively in Monte Carlo, but it’s possible he returns there in the future.”
The location of the fight allowed Golovkin to appear in prime time to the appeasement of his fans in Germany and his birth country of Kazakhstan. The plan was always in place for his first stateside fight of 2014 to take place in New York City, with HBO on board to televise. The likely plan is to appear on the network at least three times this year, though against whom still remains in discussion.
“We are going through the list of names approved by HBO and hope to make a final decision in the very near future,” stated Loeffler, refusing to tip his hand as to who might land the assignment.
On the very short list of leading candidates is middleweight contender Andy Lee. The Irish southpaw was one of three names floated in the media in recent weeks, along with former middleweight titlist Daniel Geale of Australia, and American knockout artist James Kirkland, who would have to rise up in weight in order to contend for a middleweight title.
Both Geale and Kirkland remain strong candidates to face Golovkin later in the year, but are out of the running for April 26 for different reasons. Geale is unable to fight on the date due to a conflict with TV rights in Australia, which airs most of its major boxing shows on PPV and is already locked in for a UFC event on the night.
Kirkland, meanwhile, is being steered towards an eliminator of sorts, a fight to allow him to grow towards middleweight contention and face Golovkin down the road rather than move up cold. A career super welterweight, his lone loss to date came at middleweight when he suffered a shocking 1st round knockout at the hands of Nobuhiro Ishida, whom Golovkin drilled in three rounds last March.
One name that came up in social media is another fighter who would have to rise in weight, current super welterweight contender Erislandy Lara. The Cuban boxer, coming off of an impressive near-shutout of Austin Trout last December, has pledged his willingness to answer the calling of a sought-after opponent for April 26.
There’s just one problem.
“It’s well known that Gennady Golovkin—when he fights in the United States—is under exclusive contract with HBO,” Loeffler points out. “Lara is with Golden Boy and fights on Showtime. So while he is a great fighter for whom we have a tremendous amount of respect, the bottom line is that HBO is our biggest strategic partner and it’s up to his promoter to get him accepted by HBO.
“The strange thing is that his name never really came up. His insistence took us by surprise. It’s not that Gennady doesn’t want to fight him—he’ll fight anyone and continues to prove that. But we were looking at fighters who we know can and will fight on HBO.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox