Gennady Gennadyovich Golovkin, who owns three middleweight title belts and is working on a string of 23 straight knockouts, faces the biggest fight of his career with a chance to win a fourth belt from WBA champion Daniel Jacobs in an HBO pay-per-view fight Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Yet, even now, the specter of the fight that hasn’t happened follows “GGG” around like a dark cloud.

For the better part of two years, Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) has tried to lure Saul (Canelo) Alvarez into meeting him much the same way Manny Pacquiao once chased Floyd Mayweather Jr. But after fitful back-and-forth negotiations, that carrot still is dangling at the end of the stick. So, Golovkin will try to add the WBA belt to the WBC, IBF and IBO titles he owns.

As frustrating as it might be that Alvarez has eluded him, Golovkin knows it would be dangerous to lose focus on Jacobs.

“It’s not a problem for me,” Golovkin said of persistent questions about fighting Alvarez. “I’m very comfortable. My focus is on Daniel. Canelo is Canelo. I talked about Canelo last year all year.”

When will he get Alvarez in the ring? “I don’t know,” Golovkin said. “It doesn’t matter. Seriously. My focus right now is on Daniel Jacobs. Canelo is a different story.”

Since Mayweather’s retirement, negotiations for a potential GGG-Alvarez fight have occupied center stage. It appeared close last year but failed to materialize. That annoyed Golovkin because he likes to fight three or four times a year but only fought twice in 2016 while awaiting a resolution with Canelo.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

“We’re still in regular communication with Eric Gomez,” Tom Loeffler, head of K2 Promotions, said of his counterpart with Golden Boy, which handles Alvarez. “There’s no update. Everything I’ve heard from Golden Boy is they’ve always said September of this year. So, there’s no reason for me to question that.”

Not only does Golovkin need to defeat Jacobs, but Alvarez must win his 12-round non-title bout against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. scheduled May 6 in Las Vegas at a 164.5-pound catchweight. GGG also would like to stay busy with a June fight in his native Kazakhstan, but Golden Boy has suggested that wouldn’t leave time to promote a major September fight, which sounds like more posturing.

“Based on the experience of last year, we can’t wait for other people to decide,” Loeffler said. “If there is an opportunity for him to fight in June, he will, and there’s plenty of time to promote a fight in September.”

Abel Sanchez, who trains Golovkin, likes what he’s seen from GGG in training for Jacobs. “Finally, we have the fight that is going to give the fans what they want and give us that mental threat, the perceived threat of Daniel’s right hand and great left hook,” Sanchez said. “For the first time in three or four fights, he’s got this edge where he’s looking forward to the battle.”

While Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) is a decided underdog, he’s naturally the bigger man, and his power he is a legitimate threat. “I know he has good boxing IQ,” Golovkin said. “He had very good amateur style. He looks good the last couple fights. He has power. The right hand is good, the left. Everything is good.”

@NewsdaySports

Golovkin smiled like a man who is tired of talking about a phantom fight in anticipation of the real thing Saturday night.