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Steve Rolls agrees to Gennady Golovkin fight in June

Image: Steve Rolls agrees to Gennady Golovkin fight in June

By Mark Eisner: Canadian middleweight Steve Rolls has agreed to terms for a fight against Gennady Golovkin in June on DAZN, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. The Golovkin-Rolls bout is in advanced stages and is close to being finalized.

This would be a tune-up/confidence booster for Golovkin. He’ll have been out of the ring for nine months by the time he fights in June. Golovkin lost his last fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez last September, and took a lot of punishment along the way. Further, Golvokin’s contract with HBO ended when the company chose to get out of the boxing business, which made it necessary for GGG to fight a new platform to have his fights shown on. The combination of the defeat to Canelo, the punishment that he took, and the ring rust that has accumulated led team Golovkin to go in the direction of a soft fight against Rolls.

#9 IBF Rolls isn’t well known by boxing fans outside of his home country of Canada. The 35-year-old Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) is unbeaten, but he’s not faced any notable opposition during his eight-year pro career that he began in 2011. Rolls is a little bit younger than the 37-year-old Golovkin, but far less experienced. Rolls’ best opponent during his career is KeAndrae Leatherwood (21-6-1, 13 KOs), who he beat by a 10 round unanimous decision last December in Toronto, Canada. Rolls is an unknown with boxing fans, and he won’t do much to increase interest in Golovkin’s fight in June, which will be his fist of a six-fight deal with DAZN.

If Golovkin was still with HBO, they likely would reject a fighter like Rolls as an opponent, as they would regonize that it’s a fight that the boxing public in the U.S wouldn’t be interested in seeing. But with Golovkin signed with DAZN, it appears he has more freedom to fight this type of opposition. Canelo had his own mismatch recently on DAZN in electing to fight Rocky Fielding last December in his first fight of his new 11-match contract with the streaming giant. But at least Fielding was the WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion. Rolls is just a fringe contender at 160, and he’s faced lower level opposition since turning pro in 2011.

It’s believed that Golovkin will be be facing Saul Canelo Alvarez in a trilogy fight in September on DAZN, unless the Golden Boy Promotions star balks at the idea of facing him again due to him doing nothing with his career since he beat him by a 12 round majority decision on September 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight was close with Canelo winning by the scores 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114. Golovkin is ranked #1 WBA, #1 WBC, #1 WBO and #10 IBF.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated said this on his Twitter about Steve Rolls having agreed to terms for fight against Golovkin in June:

“Reps for @GGGBoxing and undefeated Canadian middleweight Steve Rolls are in the advanced stages of finalizing a June fight, sources familiar with the discussions tell @SInow. Rolls has agreed to all terms, per sources.”

It’ll be interesting to see if Canelo turns up his nose at fighting Golovkin now that he’s shown that he’s not taking chances with his career. Canelo might not have a choice though. DAZN likely will want him to take the trilogy fight with Golovkin, as they signed Alvarez to a huge 5-year, $365 million contract. They’re not giving Canelo all that money just so that he can fight guys like Jacobs and Fielding. They’ll want Canelo to fight Golovkin so that the two of them can bring in a lot of subscribers.

If Canelo can delay that fight for a year or two until Golovkin starts fighting good opposition once again, it’ll help make it a bigger fight than if they faced each other right now. With Golovkin having lost his last fight against Canelo, it’s important that he face a good opponent next in order to redeem himself enough for there to be interest from boxing fans in seeing a third fight between them. Golovkin seems to be on the verge of doing the opposite by taking a fight against a guy that few boxing fans have heard of, and essentially daring Canelo to schedule someone else to fight in September. Golovkin isn’t helping make the third fight with Canelo bigger. Fighting Rolls is a good way of hurting the interest from boxing fans in subscribing to DAZN to see Canelo and Golovkni fight each other again.

Rolls’ last 10 fights have come against these little known fighters:

– KeAndrae Leatherwood (21-6-1, 13 KOs)

– Damian Ezequiel Bonelli (23-6, 20 KOs)

– Andrik Saralegui (8-5, 6 KOs)

– Demond Nicholson (21-3-1, 20 KOs)

– Attila Koros (15-18-1, 11 KOs_

– Emmanuel Sanchez (7-12-1, 1 KOs)

– Steed Woodall (15-1-1, 10 KOs)

– Tyi Edmonds (11-3, 8 KOs)

– Jozsef Kormany (19-42-1, 6 KOs)

– Norbert Szekeres (18-73-4, 9 KOs)

The resumes of Rolls’ opposition are very poor to stay the least. It’s unclear how a mismatch between Golovkin and Rolls would even be sanctioned at this point. It doesn’t matter that Rolls is an unbeaten top 10 ranked contender. The fact is that his resume is built off win over fluff opposition.

There had been talk of former WBA middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam being a possible option for Golovkin to fight in June. That would be a much better fight than Golovkin vs. Rolls. It’s possible that Golovkin’s management likes Rolls, because he’s unbeaten, speaks English, and comes from nearby Canada. N’Dam fights out of France, and speaks French. Still, N’Dam is only a year removed from being the WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion, and he would be an ideal option for Golovkin to fight to have an opponent that the boxing public would be interested in seeing. It’s possible that Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler saw N’Dam as being too risky of a fight for GGG, so they went in the direction of the little known Rolls.

If Canelo chooses to ignore Golovkin for a third fight in September due to him taking a weak opponent in Steve Rolls for his June fight, then he can’t say that the Mexican fighter didn’t tell him so. Canelo made it clear earlier this month that he would be interested in fighting him again if he wins a world title.

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