Gennadiy Golovkin is mentally prepared for the physical challenge that awaits his next and perhaps most dangerous assignment of his 16-year pro career.
The September 17 trilogy clash with longtime rival Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will mark the first time that Kazakhstan’s Golovkin will compete at the full super middleweight limit. It has been theorized by some—including event promoter Eddie Hearn—that the move up the scale was long overdue for the two-time and reigning unified WBA/IBF middleweight titlist, who has weighed between 159-163 pounds for the entirety of his incredible career.
Golovkin’s team isn’t quite on board with that theory, though they agree that a new and improved version will be on hand even for an old rivalry at a familiar venue.
“I believe this is going to be the best Gennadiy Golovkin you’re ever gonna see… but not because of 168,” vowed Johnathon Banks, Golovkin’s trainer. “Fighters, especially Alvarez, go up and down in weight classes. He does whatever he wants to do and is comfortable doing.
“If G wasn’t going to be comfortable at ’68, I don’t think he would’ve accepted the terms at ’68. As long as he’s comfortable, he can be himself and do basically what he needs to do to win.”
Golovkin has fought at middleweight since 2003, one year prior to capturing a Silver medal at the 75kg. limit in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He turned pro in 2006, spending the first 12-plus years of his career fighting at a tight middleweight range, never weighing more than 161 ¼ pounds. Prior to agreeing to the third fight with Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs), Golovkin only weighed heavier than true middleweight three times in his career.
The heaviest he’s come in was 163 pounds for a June 2019 fourth-round knockout of Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The bout was Golovkin’s first following his loss to Alvarez in their September 2018 rematch at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which also hosted their September 2017 draw and which will serve as the home to the upcoming trilogy clash.
Just four fights have come since Golovkin ended a title reign dating back to at least 2012 (some credit his December 2010 win over Nilson Tapia in their secondary WBA middleweight title point as the starting point). The win over Rolls was followed by his thrilling win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko to regain the IBF title in their October 2019 war, followed by knockout wins over Kamil Szeremeta in December 2020 and WBA titlist Ryota Murata this past April.
It remains unclear just how close to the super middleweight limit Golovkin will enter in his bid to become a two-division champion and also claim his first true win over Alvarez.
“Both guys are 100% confident, saying they’re gonna put on the best show,” noted Banks, who took over the reins for Golovkin beginning with his win over Rolls. “They’re gonna put everything on the line on the night of the 17th of September. That right there is going to make it a great fight. They’re willing to put everything on the line. I think with a guy like G coming forward, I don’t think 168 is going to be a problem. He’s gonna make his adjustments and he’ll do what he needs to do.
“This is going to be a war. If both fighters are saying they’re gonna come forward. If so, we’re looking at one of the best trilogies in history.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox