By Rick Reeno
An interesting set of circumstances has created the foundation for two middleweight title fights.
It was officially announced on Thursday that a deal was reached for a September 1 unification between IBF champion Daniel Geale (27-1, 15KOs) and the WBA's super champion at 160, Felix Sturm (37-2-2, 16KOs).
Originally, Geale was going to face unbeaten WBO champion Dmitry Pirog (20-0, 15KOs) in an HBO televised main event on August 25th. On the other side, the WBA ordered Sturm to defend his title against IBO/WBA "regular" champion Gennady Golovkin (23-0, 20KOs) in the fall.
Things did not go as planned. Geale was offered a lot more more to face Sturm in Germany and withdrew from facing Pirog.
It didn't take long before the promoters began to focus on a fight between two of the most avoided fighters at the weight, Pirog and Golovkin.
If a deal is finalized, and it appears to be close, Pirog's title will not be at stake. WBO President Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel recently ordered Pirog to fight interim-champion Hassan N'Dam of France, but HBO had no interest in the fight. Pirog is going to enter the ring as the challenger, facing Golovkin for the WBA/IBO titles.
"We're 90% done," said Pirog's American promoter, Arthur Pelullo of Banner Promotions, to BoxingScene.com.
"Originally the deal was to fight Geale, but then Geale pulled out of the fight after he signed the contract for the unification. Paco wants Priog to fight the interim-champion Hassan N'Dam. HBO wasn't going to buy that. Dmitry wants to fight in the United States. He wants to fight on HBO and he feels that he can be star in America. I told him the options, that he can fight for the WBA title and if they won't sanction it, then we go for twelve rounds with Gennady Golovkin."
When Pelullo approached Pirog with the idea of fighting Golovkin, the Russian fighter jumped at the opportunity.
"Geal got an opportunity, because its a unification, a business opportunity to fight Sturm - because Sturm wouldn't fight Golovkin or Pirog. When I laid it all out for Dmitry, he asked me 'well, who will they approve' and I said 'they will approve Gennady Golovkin' and he said 'send me the contract.' And the next day he signed that bout agreement. That's what happened," Pelullo said.
Bernd Boente, the managing director of K2 Promotions, who promote Golovkin, was not surprised with Sturm's decision to fight Geale. Boente believes Pirog and Golovkin are the two best middleweights behind the recognized king at 160, Sergio Martinez.
"You saw a press release from Sturm's side, that he's fighting Geale and that's what we always expected. That's what Wladimir [Klitschko] always said and that's what Vitali [Klitschko] always said - that Sturm would never fight Golovkin because he's way too strong for him, that's he's looking for an exit and the exit is the easiest of all the champions," Boente told Told BoxingScene.com.
"[Piorg] is not that bad. I think [Golovkin and Pirog] are really the two guys behind Martinez. Martinez is a bit older but still strong. It will be a very interesting fight, interesting for America but I always knew that Sturm would never [fight Golokvin]. He was telling everyone, and even through his manager, even on BoxingScene, that he wanted to come to America. But I always knew that he would stay here [in Germany] and he won't fight even [Julio Cesar] Chavez or Martinez, who is way stronger [and he won't] even talk about Golovkin."
Both Pelullo and Boente believe the winner of Golovkin-Pirog is the top candidate in line to fight Martinez.
"I think the winner of that fight is definitely the guy in line to fight Martinez," Pellulo said. "Priog has had 3 days defenses in Russia since beating Danny Jacobs [in July 2010]. I couldn't get [former HBO President] Ross Greenburg to put him back on the network. I must have sent about 30 emails. The minute Ken Hershman takes over, he realizes that this is one of the best middleweights in the world and we made a deal."
Meanwhile, Geale is faced with the very tough task of beating Sturm in Germany. Geale's promoter, Gary Shaw, knows his boxer is the underdog, but he believes the Australian star is going to make history. Geale traveled over to Germany in May of 2011 to win an upset decision over then IBF champion Sebastian Sylvester.
"I like our chances to win. I believe he can make history by going over to Germany again and winning a second world title," Shaw told BoxingScene.com.
Shaw has a stake in the Golovkin-Pirog event. Two of his boxers will open up the HBO broadcast. Rising junior middleweight contender Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0, 13KOs) of Puerto Rico will face former WBO champion Sergei Dzinziruk (37-1, 23KOs), who returns for the first time since being stopped by Sergio Martinez in March 2011. Shaw, who promotes Gonzalez and co-promotes Dzinziruk with Pelullo, expects "a great fight."