By Jake Donovan
If Gennady Golovkin and his team wish to call the shots in choosing his next opponent, they now have roughly 30 days to do so.
The unbeaten middleweight knockout artist has been ordered by the World Boxing Association (WBA) - whose title he has held for nearly four years and has successfully defended 10 times - to begin negotiations with Australia's Jarrod Fletcher, who is next in line for a mandatory title fight. The fight was ordered by the WBA as of May 13, giving 30 days from that point to work out terms for a title fight.
Should the two sides fail to reach an agreement, a purse bid hearing will be ordered in mid-June.
Golovkin (29-0, 26KO) has breezed through everyone he has faced to date. However, getting the Kazakh puncher in the ring has proven to be a challenge in 2014, though through no fault of his own.
A Fighter of the Year-level campaign was led in 2013, largely on his willingness to stay active. Four fights came on the year, all ending in knockout, including three appearances on American cable giant HBO.
Golovkin returned this past February, scoring a 7th round knockout of Osumana Adama in Monte Carlo. The reigning middleweight titlist was due to return to the ring in late April, but was forced to withdraw due to the untimely passing of his father earlier this year.
A high-profile showdown was negotiated with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., which would have served as the headliner of a July 19 HBO PPV event in Los Angeles. However, Chavez Jr. balked at terms posed by his own promoter Top Rank, who requested either a contract extension in favor of a larger purse offering, or a lesser amount with the freedom to walk once his contract runs out next October.
Chavez Jr. instead left money on the table, refusing both offers and ultimately passing on the fight as he attempts to sort things out with his American promoter.
With Golovkin in search of an opponent, a golden opportunity has now fallen into the lap of Fletcher (18-1, 10KO), who has endured his own struggles in 2014. The Aussie middleweight was due to face Martin Murray on the undercard of Golovkin's win over Adama this past February. The winner would have been guaranteed a mandatory title shot, only for Murray to withdraw from the bout.
Fletcher remained on the show, scoring a decision win over Bursak - who oddly enough will now face Murray in Monte Carlo later this summer.
Despite not serving as the #1 contender, Fletcher gets the shot as the highest rated availalbe challenger. The top challenger according to the WBA is Dmitry Chudinov, who is scheduled to face Patrick Nielsen (WBA #4) in an interim title fight on June 1 in his native Russia.
Where the ordering of this fight gets interesting surrounds the WBA's number-three rated contender, Daniel Geale. The former titlist was due to face Matthew Macklin next weekend in Texas, only for the card to be scrapped after the main event fell through. Headlining the show was a heavyweight eliminator between Mike Perez - who, like Golovkin is promoted by K2 Promotions - and Bryant Jennings. Perez suffered an injury, which caused the cancellation of the show.
Talks have surfaced of the bout being rescheduled for July, and being paired with Golovkin's next title defense. Rumored as the potential opponent was none other than Geale, although such talks remain strictly unconfirmed.
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