There seems to be little question that WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin is the next big thing in boxing. The big question is which "name" opponent will be the first to step to the plate and give "Triple G" -- his middle name fortuitously is Gennadyevich -- a chance to prove it.
Golovkin followed up his third-round stoppage of Daniel Geale in July at Madison Square Garden with an even more impressive second-round TKO of Marco Antonio Rubio last Saturday in Carson, Calif. In the ring afterward, Golovkin named WBC champ Miguel Cotto as the opponent he most wants to fight -- a bout that certainly would be at the Garden -- but added he'd be happy to take on popular Canelo Alvarez or super middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who backed out of a proposed July fight.
K2 promoter Tom Loeffler recently told Newsday you could add the name of IBF and WBA super middleweight champ Carl Froch to the list of desired opponents, as well. The only problem is that, every time Loeffler tries to negotiate with a major opponent worthy of a pay-per view fight, it seems they all have other plans or plans to make plans.
It's not hard to understand why. The Rubio KO was Golovkin's 18th straight stoppage, and not only is he a power puncher, but he's also a highly skilled boxer with an array of weapons and the ability to cut off the ring expertly. So, Loeffler hopes to use the governing bodies to position GGG. He fought Rubio to gain the WBC interim middleweight title, meaning he's now Cotto's mandatory challenger.
"Gennady plays chess in the ring," Loeffler said, "and I play chess outside the ring."
But the WBC has told Cotto he can make a voluntary defense first, and Loeffler said Cotto and Top Rank Promotions are trying to line up Alvarez for a date in May. "We reached out to Cotto after the Geale fight, and we didn't get any interest," Loeffler said. "You can't negotiate if you don't get a response.
"If any of those guys would step forward -- Cotto, Canelo or Chavez -- we'd be willing to make a deal. Froch in England would be a great fight. But I got the same response from Froch's promoter when I said Gennady would be willing to come to England and fight at 168. [Promoter] Eddie Hearn said we could make that fight down the road."
Before settling for former IBF middleweight champion Geale, Loeffler agreed to terms with Top Rank to fight Chavez. Top Rank offered a premium to Chavez for a multi-fight deal, but he wanted it for one fight.
"I think Top Rank offered him $7 million to fight Gennady," Loeffler said. "If you don't accept an offer like that, there's not much we can do from our side to make someone get in the ring with him."
In their wildest dreams, Loeffler and Golovkin can picture fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr., who holds the WBA and WBC light middleweight titles, at 154 in what would amount to a battle for pound-for-pound supremacy. Mayweather is a natural 147-pound welterweight and Golovkin has fought at the 160-pound middleweight division the past 11 years, but GGG insists he can make 154.
"Absolutely," Loeffler said. "It would take a longer training camp to get the weight down, but [trainer] Abel [Sanchez] has always said Gennady would be committed to making 154 for a fight like that."
Sadly, the reality is that Golovkin must tread water for a while. Loeffler said English middleweight Martin Murray is a possible opponent for a February date in Monte Carlo. Assuming Cotto and Alvarez fight in May, Loeffler wants Golovkin on a parallel track.
"The Garden is anxious to have Gennady back as soon as possible, but it depends on the opponent," Loeffler said. "If it's a New York-based fighter like Peter Quillin or Danny Jacobs, it would make a lot of sense to have it at the Garden in May."
In a way, it's ultimately up to the boxing public to demand that the big names fight Golovkin. GGG showed in his last two bouts he could draw in New York, Los Angeles and on cable TV. So, his marketability is ready to explode.
"I think you'll see these fights become megafights," Loeffler said. "Gennady brings more risk, but he also brings more reward with his popularity. As soon as one of those 'names' agrees to get in the ring with Gennady, you'll see the interest off the charts."