The history of Madison Square Garden is not lost on Gennady Golovkin. For the middleweight champion from Kazakhstan, it has long been a desired destination.
Well, he's finally arrived.
On Saturday, Golovkin defends his WBA and IBO middleweight titles against Gabriel Rosado as part of a card that features three world title fights inside the Garden's Theater. In the other two title fights, WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido defends against Mikey Garcia, and WBO junior lightweight champ Roman "Rocky" Martinez defends against Juan Carlos Burgos. The card will be televised live by HBO.
On the undercard, Long Beach light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan fights Roger Cantrell in an eight-round bout.
While three title fights are a novelty, the real attraction just may be the hard-hitting Golovkin, who is 24-0 with 21 knockouts. He is a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, beating USA's Andre Dirrell in the semifinals (Dirrell won the bronze and is currently a top-ranked super middleweight), and a 2003 amateur world champion.
"Golovkin looks like maybe he's the best middleweight in the world," said Top Rank's Bob Arum, promoter of Saturday's card. "He's a tremendous puncher, he has good ring generalship. This is a very interesting fight. Rosado is on a real tear, he's been beating everybody. This fight is going to be a war."
Rosado, who campaigns primarily at junior middleweight, has won seven straight fights. When he was offered a catch-weight fight against Golovkin, he turned it down, insisting he wanted to fight the champion at his best. Golovkin is expecting nothing less from his opponent.
"Rosado is a big man, he's strong," said Golovkin. "I think it's a difficult fight for us. Not an easy fight. This is boxing. It's a great fight. I'm very excited to be fighting at Madison Square Garden. I'm prepared for anything Gabriel brings to the fight."
If Golovkin handles Rosado, there are significant middleweight title unification matches against the likes of Sergio Martinez and Peter Quillin awaiting him.
"Ever since he was an amateur in Kazahkstan, he's wanted to fight in Madison Square Garden," said Golovkin's manager, Tom Loeffler. "So for him to realize that dream and get his second fight on HBO, that's a tremendous accomplishment. He trained in Big Bear at high altitude for the last two months, he's had a lot of sparring, he's ready for this. This is a big moment in his career. He's ready for any middleweight in the world."
This marks Golovkin's second bout in the United States. Last September he made his HBO debut by knocking out Grzegorz Proksa at Turning Stone Casino in upstate Verona. That may be five hours away from the City by car, but this fight is essentially on another planet in terms of exposure and significance.
"This is my dream," said Golovkin. "I'm happy right now."