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Can Golovkin get a big fight this year and who should he face next?

golovkin44By Thomas Cowan: Last Saturday, highly hyped knockout artist Gennady Golovkin defended his WBA middleweight title, stopping the brave but ultimately overmatched Ghanaian challenger Osumanu Adama inside 7 rounds in Monte Carlo. Golovkin has said he is ready to fight anyone from 154-168lbs but so far the big fights have eluded him. So will he get one in 2014?

The most natural fight for Golovkin to take would appear to one against one of the other middleweight champions. However, the chances of this happening appear bleak. IBF champion Felix Sturm showed no intention of facing Golovkin when he was Sturm’s WBA mandatory challenger in 2012. A potential fight with WBO champion Peter Quillin is blocked by network issues and even if this barrier could be overcome, it is highly unlikely Quillin’s handlers would fancy his chances against Golovkin after Quillin’s unconvincing win over Gabriel Rosado, who Golovkin stopped easily.

The biggest fight at 160lbs for Golovkin is with the longtime recognized middleweight king and WBC champion Sergio Martinez. There have been calls for this fight since Golovkin established himself as the apparent heir to Sergio’s throne by easily and brutally dismantling Matthew Macklin in 3 rounds, who was beating Martinez after 10 rounds of their fight in 2011, before the Argentinian overpowered him in the 11th. Macklin, who is the only man to face both “GGG” and “Maravilla”, claimed Golovkin was the far superior fighter. Martinez looked old in scraping past Martin Murray in April 2013, and is expected to face Miguel Cotto in a big pay-per-view fight in June. If Martinez wins, a huge middleweight showdown with GGG could be made for November, providing the financial incentive for Maravilla is big enough.

Golovkin has said he is able to make the 154lbs limit but the only big fights here are against Floyd Mayweather, Saul Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather showed now interest in fighting Martinez at a catchweight when Martinez called him out and his attitudes towards fighting a natural middleweight who doesn’t bring a huge amount of cash to the table is unlikely to have changed, and understandably so. The same goes for Pacquiao who can make more money against the much lighter Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez at 147lbs. The natural 154-pounder of the three, Saul Alvarez, is coming off a one-sided loss to Mayweather, and it is unlikely Golden Boy will want their cash cow in a dangerous fight for the forseeable future.

Some fans have said they are sick of Golovkin fighting “bums” at 160lbs, and he should move up to 168lbs to face WBA champion Andre Ward. However, fans calling for this don’t appreciate the business side of boxing. Despite what Ward believes, nobody outside Oakland and hardcore boxing fans have much interest in him. Neither Ward nor Golovkin has a big enough fanbase for this fight to be on pay-per-view. Ward would want the bigger share of the purse because he is more experienced, accomplished and higher up the pound for pound list. Golovkin would be second favorite and a loss would kill any chance he has of big fights in the future. Ward, however talented he may be, brings nothing to the table, which is why Carl Froch, George Groves, Martinez, Adonis Stevenson, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Robert Stieglitz, Sergey Kovalev and James DeGale have no interest in fighitng him. Even boxing experts have no idea who Ward can face next. To fight Ward would be taking a very high risk and very low reward fight against a man who has virtually no options.

A much better fight for Golovkin were he to move up to super middleweight is against IBF champion Carl Froch. Froch vs Golovkin is stylistically a potential fight of the year. It would sell double the tickets in the UK that Golovkin vs Ward would in USA. Froch has the fanbase in Britain to fight on pay-per-view and the fight would do well due to Golovkin’s fearsome reputation and he is well known to British fight fans due to his demolition of Macklin. Golovkin would also be a favourite against Froch. “The Cobra” is expected to rematch bitter rival George Groves in the summer after their controversial November fight, but if he wins, that is another potential big fight for Golovkin late in the year.

With big fights against the likes of Martinez and Froch still looking some way off but still possible, Golovkin and his team must make sure he has a good opponent for his spring fight to force him into the picture. The three options were thought to be vicious puncher James Kirkland, former IBF champion Daniel Geale and Irish middleweight Andy Lee.

Kirkland has reportedly priced himself out of yet another title shot, after negotations with WBO light middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade fell through and Kirkland demanded $2.5 million to fight Saul Alvarez in 2012, 24 hours after agreeing to fight him for $1million. Geale is not willing to fight Golovkin on April 26th, because the television network he fights on in his native Australia won’t broadcast it. According to reports, Golovkin is now being lined up to face Andy Lee.

Frankly, Lee is a sideways step from Adama and fighting someone who Chavez Jr stopped in 8 rounds in 2012 and hasn’t fought a good opponent since won’t raise Golovkin’s profile enough to force his way into big fight contention. Golovkin must do anything he can to secure the Geale fight. It’s not a big unification fight but Geale has a good win against Sturm, has never been seriously hurt and only has two losses, one by split decision to Anthony Mundine, which he avenged, and another close scrap with Darren Barker last August, where Geale lost a split verdict and his title.

If Golovkin can get the Geale fight, whether that means changing the date, venue or both, and win in the kind of brutal and dominant fashion he has against Macklin, Adama and Curtis Stevens, he should get a big opportunity to prove himself next year. Fight Lee, and it will become much easier for fighters to ignore and avoid him.

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