Now that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has exited the stage -- at least temporarily -- as boxing's biggest attraction, WBA and IBO middleweight champion Gennady Gennadyovich Golovkin hopes to position himself at the forefront of the next generation of pay-per-view stars. Step 1 comes Saturday night at sold out Madison Square Garden in Golovkin's unification bout against IBF champion David Lemieux.
It's the first appearance for Golovkin in a HBO PPV telecast, and the fighter from Kazakhstan is quick to draw a sharp contrast between Mayweather's often dull defensive fights and the action-packed, risk-taking shows he stages. Golovkin likened his approach to the combative styles of greats such as Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns as opposed to the waltz between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao last May that broke all PPV records.
"Floyd and Manny are finished," Golovkin said. "This is yesterday. I bring a new tactic. Like 'old school,' a fight, not dancing. Not just business. Like long time ago, you remember Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, great fighters. Right now, I bring new story."
Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) and trainer Abel Sanchez say their focus is squarely on the dangerous Lemieux (34-2, 31 KOs), but they are mindful of the importance of giving fans a good show in GGG's first PPV appearance. "If we do well on the 17th," Sanchez said, "it sure opens a lot of doors for these guys to negotiate."
At the age of 32, Golovkin admitted he's very conscious of the short time frame he has to maximize his career not only in terms of earnings but in terms of earning respect as one of the greats with big fights and multiple titles. "I'm very excited for October 17th," he said. "It's a big day for me."
Golovkin frankly admits his streak of 20 straight knockouts is important to him.
"I think it's not finished," Golovkin said of his KO streak.
K2 Promotions head Tom Loeffler, who handles Golovkin, said, "Fans like knockouts. Abel has instilled in Gennady that he needs to provide entertainment. If that means taking a risk to deliver a punch like he did against Daniel Geale, that's what he does."
Loeffler was referring to Golovkin's third-round TKO of former champ Geale in his last Garden appearance 14 months ago. Some critics faulted Golovkin for leaving himself exposed too often. But GGG has proven he can take a punch, and he's an expert at cutting off the ring and stalking his prey in search of a knockout.
"The calculated risk he's taking is because he's looking for that opportunity to land a punch," Sanchez said. "He wants to land."
That's sweet music to PPV buyers.