By Jake Donovan
As rare as it is for two of the sport’s top boxers to appear on the same show, Gennady Golovkin and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez did it not once but twice in 2015. The pairing proved widely successful for K2 Promotions, who can lay claim to having the two best pound-for-pound boxers in the world under its umbrella.
It’s possible they will appear on the same card once again in the future, but it just won’t come in their next respective ring appearances.
BoxingScene.com's Ryan Burton reported on Monday the possibility of Gonzalez next defending his World flyweight championship. The bout is rumored to take place on March 5 in Southern California, with HBO to televise. Former 108 lb. king Giovani Segura has been mentioned as a candidate to land the assignment, although an official opponent has yet to be secured.
Meanwhile, Golovkin’s first fight of 2016 is likely to take place in the spring. An opponent has yet to be secured for the unbeaten, unified middleweight titlist, although there’s a good chance he will return to the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City. K2 Promotions – headed up by its tireless managing director Tom Loeffler - has placed a hold for an April 23 date at the venue.
The itinerary for the night has yet to be determined, but the most logical scenario is Golovkin headlining an HBO telecast.
The other major star in K2’s stable is former World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who seeks to avenge his title fight loss to Tyson Fury in a planned rematch at some point this year. The anticipated sequel is likely to return to Germany or possibly take place in Fury’s home base of England.
As for Golovkin (34-0, 31KOs), an April 23 return would allow for the perfect build up for the one superfight he not only most covets, but is well within reach. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will defend his World middleweight championship on May 7 at the newly constructed Las Vegas Arena, against an opponent to be determined.
In addition to owning three middleweight belts, Golovkin is also the mandatory challenger to Alvarez’ WBC title. The fire-breathing knockout artist from Kazakhstan hoped to be next in line following Alvarez’ title-lifting decision victory over Miguel Cotto last November in Las Vegas. He also hoped to have 3-4 fights in 2016, as he consistently serves as among the most active top fighters in the sport.
It’s possible that he still gets in three fights on the year, although his 2016 campaign kicks off a bit later than expected. The schedule adjustment came following talks with Alvarez and the WBC, which concluding with allowing both fighters at least one interim fight in the interim, with negotiations for a head-on collision to take place no later than the end of May.
The hunt is on for a serviceable dance partner for the fight. Golovkin’s team has made a substantial offer to Billy Joe Saunders, the unbeaten Brit who recently claimed a middleweight belt in a 12-round decision over Andy Lee last December in England.
Should Saunders pass on the fight, the next likely candidate is mandatory challenger Tureano Johnson, who scored a 12-round win over Eamonn O’Kane last October. The win came on the undercard of Golovkin’s one-sided 8th round stoppage over a brave David Lemieux in their middleweight title unification bout in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden.
While his mandatory challenge is due, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) informed BoxingScene.com that there exists the option of pursuing a unification bout. With that, along with Golovkin’s goal of becoming undisputed middleweight champion, Saunders remains the priority.
Should Golovkin’s next fight also take place at the venue – visits to Texas and California were also being discussed although MSG is the only location on which K2 has placed a hold – it will mark his third fight in the building’s main room, his fifth overall on Garden property and sixth overall in New York State.
His incredible run towards boxing superstardom received its first boost with his HBO debut in Sept. ’12, scoring a 5th round knockout of Grzegorz Proksa at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. All of his bouts since then have taken place either in the United States East and West coasts or Monaco.
The true mark of Gennady’s drawing power came in his first Garden appearance, a 7th round stoppage of Gabriel Rosado. Their Jan. ’13 bout came at Madison Square Garden Theatre, serving as the highest rated bout of an HBO tripleheader despite serving as the evening’s chief support to Mikey Garcia’s featherweight title win over Orlando Salido.
By year’s end, Golovkin had already outgrown The Theatre, selling out the venue for his 8th round knockout of Curtis Stevens. A bold step was taken in placing Golovkin in the main room for his July ’14 knockout win over Daniel Geale, drawing a respectable crowd but nowhere sold-out status.
He reached that point in each of his last four fights, twice in Southern California as well as Monaco and then last fall’s Garden party with Lemieux.
Victories by Golovkin and Alvarez are expected to lead to an epic clash in September. Several locations throughout the United States have already been scouted for what would serve as the biggest fight to be made following the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao era.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox