GENNADY GOLOVKIN is on the hunt again. The Kazakh slugger last fought two months ago when he bludgeoned Willie Munroe inside six rounds and has been trying to land a big fight ever since. Widely regarded as one of the best fighters on the planet, the 33-year-old has struggled to secure a truly defining fight with one of the sport’s legitimate stars. On social media, in interviews and on American television, WBA ‘super’ world champion ‘GGG’ has gone out of his way to lure fighters in and around his middleweight division to step in the ring with him.
Hugely popular with fans and with broadcasting heavyweight HBO behind him, Golovkin has turned himself into the elephant in the room for fighters who stake their claim as world class but are yet to face him.
As the mandatory challenger for Miguel Cotto’s WBC world middleweight title, Golovkin is reportedly set to face the winner of the Puerto Rican’s mooted clash with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. However, Cotto-Alvarez , should it definitely happen, looks likely to take place no earlier than November, meaning Golovkin would face the winner sometime in the first half of next year.
So, we’ve compiled a list of five fighters Golovkin could face in the interim. Check it out:
1 Floyd Mayweather
As mentioned in our 15 for 2015 list, Golovkin would be the perfect foil for Mayweather’s apparent final fight. An accomplished boxer with adept footwork and thunderous power, Golovkin would pose a challenge Floyd has yet to face in his 48 fights. While Rocky Marciano knocked out Archie Moore to cement his unbeaten 49-0 record, if Mayweather were to beat Golovkin to match Rocky’s run, his place in history would be significantly elevated. However, Mayweather’s opponent at the MGM Grand in September is all but confirmed to be former titlist Andre Berto. Speaking to ESPN’s Sportsnation, Golovkin recently confirmed he would be willing to move down to light-middleweight, where Mayweather still holds world titles, to face him. While that would sweeten the deal, Mayweather marches to the beat of his own drum and having broken countless records when facing Manny Pacquiao in May, Floyd is apparently considering airing his September outing on free-to-air television in the US. If he does, it would likely, in his mind, give him license to take on a lower-tier opponent such as Berto.
2 Andre Ward
Rather than moving down, Golovkin would have to move up in weight in order to tempt the unbeaten Andre Ward into a fight. Having dominated at super-middleweight, Ward made his return to the ring after a 19-month hiatus at a contracted catchweight of 172lbs against Paul Smith. Ward has previously claimed he would be willing to face Golovkin, but reports have recently emerged stating that Golovkin would only fight Ward at a catchweight of 164lbs. ‘SOG’ Ward has not weighed under 166lbs since 2006 and is looking at a move to light-heavyweight, so a deal with Golovkin looks dependant on an agreement over weight. However, Golovkin has also claimed he would fight former four-time super-middleweight world champion Carl Froch at 168lbs, so may not be totally adverse to doing so for Ward.
3 David Lemieux
Perhaps the most likely of all these bouts, as discussions have begun and October 17 has been set as a target date with New York’s Madison Square Garden in play to be the venue. Both men fight on HBO and Lemieux’s promoters, Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy and Camille Estephan of Eye of the Tiger, immediately turned their attention to ‘GGG’ once Lemieux had dropped Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam four times en route to winning the vacant IBF world middleweight title in June. It was originally thought that Lemieux would have to face his mandatory challenger before a fight with Golovkin however the IBF’s rules stipulate they will allow a unification bout before a mandatory obligation. Both men have fan-friendly styles and regularly seek knockouts, making this the most exciting clash on this list.
4 Erislandy Lara
Although he’s not a crossover star, Lara is undoubtedly a quality operator and, like Golovkin, is always on the lookout to fight the best but is regularly overlooked. The WBA world light-middleweight champion has previously lost to Paul Williams and the aforementioned Alvarez but is a threat to anyone he faces with his masterful skill. After handily beating Edwin Rodriguez in his last outing, Lara insisted he would be willing to travel to 160lbs to take on Golovkin. Lara however fights on the Premier Boxing Champions series while Golovkin operates on HBO, meaning a significant broadcasting hurdle would need to be overcome.
5 Bernard Hopkins
Given that he has operated at light-heavyweight for some time now and is 50 years old, Hopkins may not have completely thought things through when he recently said he is interested in closing out his career against Golovkin. It’s been 10 years since back-to-back losses to Jermain Taylor ended Hopkins’ dominant reign at middleweight, so it seems unlikely he would be able to return to 160lbs at his age. However, his respected name and ability to eke out a win against vastly younger opponents means this fight could be agreed at some sort of catchweight in a bid to grant Golovkin the opportunity to add a notable, but faded, scalp to his CV.