By Keith Idec
When asked to describe Grzegorz Proksa, the first name Gennady Golovkin mentioned was Sergio Martinez.
The undefeated middleweight title-holder from Kazakhstan didn’t go nearly as far as to say Proksa is as good as Martinez, but he reiterated several times after a media gathering Wednesday morning at Madison Square Garden that he expects a difficult fight Saturday night in Verona, N.Y. (HBO; 9:45 p.m. EDT). Proksa’s lone loss came by majority decision against light-punching Englishman Kerry Hope (17-4, 1 KO) on March 17 in Sheffield, but Poland’s Proksa stopped Hope in the eighth round of their immediate rematch for the European Boxing Union middleweight championship July 7 in Sheffield.
“I think he has very good movement,” Golovkin said to BoxingScene.com. “He has good technique, like Sergio Martinez. He’s a good boxer. It’s going to be a tough fight.”
The 30-year-old Golovkin (23-0, 20 KOs) was supposed to encounter Russia’s Dmitriy Pirog (20-0, 15 KOs) in a 160-pound championship unification fight, but Pirog suffered a herniated disk in his back and withdrew from the scheduled Aug. 25 fight in early July. HBO president Ken Hershman eventually approved Proksa as Pirog’s replacement for the heavy-handed Golovkin’s hyped debut on American television and bumped it back a week.
They’ll fight for Golovkin’s WBA middleweight title in the 12-round main event of a “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader from Turning Stone Resort Casino.
“Proksa is actually a very credible fighter,” said Tom Loeffler, managing director of the Klitschko brothers’ K2 Promotions, which represents Golovkin. “He’s the European champion. He [technically] knocked out [former IBF middleweight champ] Sebastian Sylvester [after three rounds] over in Germany.
“He’s a southpaw that keeps his hands down [like Martinez], but he has a big punch himself. So he’s got a very tricky style. That’s something that Gennady has to overcome. Gennady knows he has to have a good performance on Saturday in order to come back on HBO.”
The 27-year-old Proska (28-1, 21 KOs) is more than a 3-1 underdog, yet undeterred as the Great Britain-based boxer’s first fight on American soil in 6½ years fast approaches.
“It will be a tough fight,” said Proksa, who suffered a nasty cut above his left eye during the second round of his first fight against Hope. “It will be a tough fight for sure. I’m ready for hard work. I know Gennady. Like I said in the beginning [of a conference call], I respect my opponent, but I believe in my work, what I’ve done up to today and to get ready for a fight. What more can I say? Everything will appear crystal clear [Saturday night].”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.