Gennady Golovkin has some gripes about the way boxing is handled.
Not the competition in the ring itself, but what goes on in arranging top bouts. Triple G will not be facing a highly ranked opponent Saturday night when he fights Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden, though Rolls is undefeated.
Yes, there have been a bunch of megafights in the last two years, and a third Canelo Alvarez vs. Golovkin middleweight classic could be ahead if Triple G handles Rolls. But there also are the lopsided matchups that, in Triple G’s estimation, don’t advance the sport.
“I can’t change many things when you look at what boxing is now,” said Golovkin, who for a rare moment has no titles when he takes on his Canadian opponent. “It seems (people) are more looking from the standpoint of money and profit and boxing being more of a business than sport. That’s what needs to change the most.
“It’s bad for the athletes and for sports in general, this situation.”
In some weight classes, it’s unavoidable: There simply aren’t enough quality fighters to set up attractive bouts. That’s not true at all among the middleweights, super middleweights, welterweights, lightweights and featherweights. Plus, Andy Ruiz Jr.’s mammoth upset of Anthony Joshua for four heavyweight belts last weekend at the Garden has added some pop to the most ballyhooed division.
So top-flight fights should be the rule, not the exception, in those loaded divisions, Golovkin believes.
Triple G-Canelo would be as popular as any potential match, and they both have lucrative contracts with DAZN, which will stream Saturday night’s feature attraction. Alvarez also took on one of the division’s best when he defended his titles in a close bout with Daniel Jacobs, who also had a tight loss to Golovkin.
That’s exactly what the Kazakh star (38-1-1, 34 KOs) wants to see: premier bouts.
“When we signed the new deal with DAZN, we were looking for who would fit, who would fit at the Garden,” said Tom Loeffler, Kolovkin’s promoter. “It was kind of a short period of time in terms of announcing the fight. And we went through a list of names. A lot of guys weren’t available. Lou (DiBella, Rolls’ promoter) knew that we were looking for a fight; he called me. … As soon as that fight was proposed, Steve Rolls signed on the dotted line. He had no hesitation.
“He’s undefeated. He’s from Canada. DAZN is trying to expand their business worldwide, and they like the fact that he’s from Canada, to increase the subscription base up there in Canada. So that’s how that came together.”
Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) could turn this fight into one of those shockers if he can emulate Ruiz; he’s using the same dressing room the new heavyweight champion did.
Triple G is aware of that.
“I respect Steve, because I understood he’s professional athlete and professional boxer,” Golovkin said. “This is not a game for me and for him. And I believe this is the biggest chance for him. I remember my situation (when first fighting at the Garden in 2013). I remember my position like Steve Rolls’ feels for right now, my first fight in Madison Square Garden. Just undefeated, nobody beat me. Just nobody knows how I am doing this. This is a big point, it’s more interesting.”
Should Rolls get on, well, a roll, things might get very interesting.
“I don’t think people are considering me just a write-off or a victim like they were before,” Rolls said, referencing Ruiz’s triumph. “I think now people are starting to think, hey, listen, you know what? This is a live fight.
“But Golovkin, man … one of the very dominant middleweights within the past few eras. But we have Plan A, B and C. I know I have the ability to adapt in there. So we’re more focused on what Golovkin did well and what his strengths were, and we’re going to try and hopefully take that away from him.”