By Robert Morales
Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan will be in the most important prize-fight of his career Saturday when he defends his middleweight title against Matthew Macklin at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Conn. (on HBO). But according to Abel Sanchez, Golovkin's trainer, Macklin won't be Golovkin's most difficult opponent.
"No, I don't think so," Sanchez said via telephone Tuesday from New York City. "I think (Grzegorz) Proksa was our toughest opponent to date, and I'll tell you why. I think that our first fight on HBO, Gennady's trying to impress, trying to do things that he should not have done. He should have just stuck to what we practiced. That was the first thing.
"The second thing, he (Proksa) was a southpaw and ... had a better punch, I think, than Macklin does. Proksa only had one loss, so he was a guy I thought was a little tougher."
Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) stopped Proksa, of Poland, in the fifth round last September in Verona, N.Y. At the time, Proksa was 28-1 with 21 knockouts. Macklin, of England, is 29-4 with 20 knockouts.
That said, this could be the most vital night in Golovkin's career. He's at the point where the other middleweight studs - fellow champions Sergio Martinez and Peter Quillin, and former champ Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. - are going to have to give it a go with Golovkin, or be accused of ducking. That's something no fighter wants. But they also want to get paid, and Sanchez intimated that Golovkin winning in sensational fashion Saturday would improve his chances of landing that primo fight.
I think depending on how spectacular he is, that'll just make HBO come to the plate and ante up so that these guys have enough money to take a chance on fighting Golovkin," Sanchez said.
In other words, a win like Adrien Broner had over Paulie Malignaggi last Saturday is not enough. Sanchez, in making a comparison, referred to Broner as, "looking terrible, even though he won, but not really giving you that 'Wow' factor. So Gennady understands that how he does this on Saturday night, how he wins, is very important."
Sanchez isn't concerned about Golovkin wilting with such a burden to shoulder, either.
"We're talking about a guy that had 360 amateur fights, a silver medal in the Olympics, a winner of all kinds of national tournaments as an amateur, and fought a lot of the bigger names in the amateurs," Sanchez said. "I don't think this stage, other than it's a pro stage, is any pressure on him."
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From the sound of it, Sanchez would prefer either Martinez or Chavez next for Golovkin, providing Golovkin emerges victorious against Macklin. That became evident when we told Sanchez that Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, recently told BoxingScene.com that Danny Jacobs could be in line for a title shot against Quillin in the not-too-distant future.
"That's a smart move," Sanchez said. "That's a smart move for Golden Boy (Quillin's promoter) and for Al Haymon (Quillin's manager) because I believe Quillin is not ready for this level yet and a Danny Jacobs fight would go a long ways to prepare him for that. I think he's got a couple of more fights to go and, don't get me wrong, he's a very good fighter. But I think at this level there's a big difference. There's Martinez, Chavez, Golovkin. They're on a different level."
Arum likes Golovkin
Promoter Bob Arum was reached by telephone Wednesday, and he couldn't say enough about Golovkin, who fights under the K2-Promotions banner.
"I think he's a very good fighter, excellent fighter. Lovely boy. I really am high on him," Arum said. "He conducts himself very well, he puts out 100 percent. There is nothing not to like about him."
Arum likes thought of Golovkin-Chavez Jr., too
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the former middleweight champion from Mexico, will not have fought for nearly a year when he squares off with Brian Vera in a super middleweight bout on Sept. 7 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. In his most recent fight - last Sept. 15 - Chavez lost his title to Sergio Martinez via unanimous decision at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Chavez was then fined and suspended nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing a post-fight drug test that showed marijuana.
Well, don't look now, but Golovkin might finally get that high-profile fight he's been craving. If Golovkin is successful Saturday and Chavez beats Vera, Arum will try to make Chavez-Golovkin.
"Yeah, there is no question about that," Arum said. "As a matter of fact, Junior has mentioned that a number of times. The reason we're going with Vera, it's a non-title fight and he (Chavez) is going to come in over 160 because he's been out of action for a while.
"But after this fight, if he's successful, he'll get down to 160 and then Golovkin is a very possible fight that he's looking at as long as he believes there is no problem in making 160. If there is a problem, then he would look to fight one of the 168 guys."
But wait. Arum was reminded that Golovkin has said many times he would take on anyone from 154 to 168 pounds.
"If Chavez couldn't make 160 and Golovkin said, 'Well, I'll fight him at 165,' then it would be easy to make," Arum said. "But let's see how Chavez makes 165."
Chavez-Vera will be fought at 165, five pounds over the middleweight limit, three pounds under the super middleweight limit.
That fight would not include a major title, however.
"We don't care about titles," Arum said.
Garcia move to 130 foregone conclusion
When Mikey Garcia lost his featherweight belt on the scales June 14, the day before he stopped Juan Manuel Lopez in the fourth round in Dallas, the writing was on the wall: his days at 126 pounds were over.
Garcia, who weighed 128, will move to 130.
"Yeah, pretty much a done deal," said Arum, Garcia's promoter. "I think the warning sign was out when, unlike prior performances, the morning of the fight he couldn't take off a pound. The body just shut down, so we don't want to take any chances.
"We'll go to 130 and look to fight maybe Rocky Martinez. We're talking to people in Orange County (in SoCal) about doing the fight at the Honda Center. If possible, we would love tp pair Mikey with Andy Ruiz if Andy Ruiz is successful and looks good in Macao (China) on July 27."
Speaking of Ruiz
Ruiz, a heavyweight out of Mexicali, looks like many things, but he doesn't look like a fighter. He's very flabby, but the 23-year-old can flat-out fight and always seems to amaze reporters and fans with just how fast he is for a guy who looks more like he should be fitted with a sports bra.
"He's got quick hands and he's tough as hell," Arum said about Ruiz, who is 19-0 with 13 knockouts. Ruiz will take on Joe Hanks (21-0, 14 KOs) on the undercard of Zou Shiming-Jesus Ortega flyweight bout in Macao (on HBO).
It's up to Donaire
When Nonito Donaire last fought, he was out-boxed and defeated by Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in a super bantamweight title-unification bout April 13 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
It was only the second loss in the fine career of Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) and first since his second bout in March 2001. Now, Donaire has to determine his next move. According to Arum, it's all on him. He can take on Vic Darchinyan in a rematch of their July 2007 fight won in spectacular fashion by Donaire via fifth-round TKO, or have another turn at Rigondeaux, whose boxing style is very boring, but effective.
"We offered that (Darchinyan fight) to Donaire through (Donaire's manager) Cameron Dunkin and right now Doniare is deciding whether he takes that fight, or does a rematch with Rigondeuax," said Arum, who promotes both Donaire and Darchinyan.
It's difficult to gauge how much luster that fight would have. Yes, the win over Darchinyan was a defining moment in Donaire's career. But that was six years ago and Darchinyan is now 37.
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News and BoxingScene.com.