Gennady Golovkin’s star rises with every knockout

Gennady Golovkin realizes not many top boxers are eager to step

into a ring with him.

The Kazakh middleweight hopes to make himself impossible to

ignore this year, starting with Saturday’s fight against Gabriel

Rosado at Madison Square Garden.

Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs) is a WBA champion with the potential to

fight in three weight divisions, but his two-handed knockout power

and relatively small U.S. name recognition make him an extremely

undesirable matchup for champions from 154 to 168 pounds.

But Golovkin’s showmanship and charisma have earned him a

devoted fan following that’s growing virally with each performance.

Backed by the Klitschko brothers’ promotional company, he hopes to

fight five times in 2013.

If he keeps improving, Golovkin believes he’ll land the big

fights he craves.

”It’s going to be a big year for me,” Golovkin said in his

ever-improving English. ”For me, Madison Square Garden is the best

arena in the world. I’m very excited to be there. I hope I can make

some drama.”

Golovkin’s (24-0, 21 KOs) bout against Rosado will be just his

second U.S. appearance in the historic venue. Golovkin’s face

lights up at the thought of stepping into the ring he only saw on

television during his youth, and he’s hoping to realize many more

dreams in the next year.

With 11 straight stoppage victories, most of them in dramatic

fashion, the WBA champion’s ruthless skills and relatively small

U.S. name recognition make him an extremely undesirable matchup for

champions across several weight divisions. With a few more

knockouts, he believes he can make himself impossible to


Despite his ring charisma and devoted fan following, Golovkin

has followed Argentine middleweight Sergio Martinez and Paul

Williams into the long lineage of tested veteran fighters who must

wait for years to get the breaks necessary to become international


Golovkin’s team would love to get him in a fight with Martinez,

Andre Ward or Canelo Alvarez this year. It’s only possible if

Golovkin becomes a must-see attraction, but his supporters believe

it’s inevitable.

”I’ve been saying for a while that boxing is missing that

Tyson-esque kind of a figure,” said Golovkin’s trainer, Abel

Sanchez. ”The public looks for a knockout. I’ve always looked for

guys to knock somebody out. Gennady could be that guy who makes

everybody look for the knockout right away in every fight. He’s

special, and anybody who watches him will see it.”

The first major fight card of 2013 is headlined by Orlando

Salido’s WBO featherweight title defense against Mikey Garcia. WBO

junior lightweight champion Roman Martinez also fights Juan Carlos


Golovkin spent Christmas, New Year’s Day and his Jan. 7 wedding

anniversary in Big Bear outside Los Angeles with a small, devoted

group of fellow fighters and sparring partners. His family has

stayed in Stuttgart, Germany, where his wife studies economics in

college and their young son has just started kindergarten.

After winning a silver medal at the Athens Olympics, Golovkin

spent several years toiling in minor fights in Europe and steaming

at his promoters’ work. After a messy split, he signed with the

Klitschko brothers’ promotional company, K2 Promotions, and began

producing results that generated hype.

”Gennady is the best middleweight out there, no disrespect

intended to Sergio,” said Tom Loeffler, K2’s managing director.

”Gennady beats all of them. We’re trying to get him into a

position to prove that, and after his recognition goes up this

year, he’s going to explode.”

Golovkin is doing everything possible to get his name out to

American fight fans, including wearing a New York Rangers jersey to

this week’s news conference. Saturday’s fights are expected to sell

out, and Golovkin knows he would benefit from a dramatic knockout

of Rosado, a brash veteran underdog who was the best opponent

Golovkin could get, according to Loeffler.

”In his fights, he’s so destructive that you really don’t get

to see Gennady,” Sanchez said. ”This fight is going to be quick,

too. But if it isn’t, at least people will get to see more of what

he can do.”

Sanchez spent three full years altering Golovkin’s conventional

European counterpunching style, adding North American

aggressiveness and flair to his fighter’s game. The result is

Golovkin’s intriguing hybrid approach in the ring, allowing him to

throw big shots from all angles while pressing his opponents.

Just as Manny Pacquiao appears to relish the toughest moments in

a good brawl, Golovkin’s love for fighting is obvious from his ring

demeanor and work ethic. He did two lengthy sparring sessions on

New Year’s Eve before enjoying a brief party with his friends in

Big Bear, eating Mexican food and waiting for the first day of the

biggest year of his life.

”Training is tough, so that makes the fight easy for me,”

Golovkin said. ”I feel ready for the fight already. I can’t wait

to get in the ring.”