Much at stake for Golovkin, Geale in Saturday matchup

That was in June 2008.

Since then, Golovkin has finished 16 straight opponents inside the distance. He has knocked out 26 of his 29 professional opponents and established himself as one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport.

On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York (HBO, 9:30 p.m. ET), he faces what many consider to be his toughest opponent to date, Australian veteran Daniel Geale (30-2, 16 KOs), who is coming to take his IBO and WBA middleweight titles. Geale is a former world champion and extremely confident, despite being a heavy underdog with oddsmakers. Golovkin, however, does not believe this will be the test many think it will be.

"I don’t think this fight is going to be the toughest one," Golovkin said, "and I’m not thinking about that. I’m still confident and I just know that I need to do my job, so I’m training and getting ready but I’m not thinking about how tough the fight is going to be."

Geale, 33, has faced world champions and has upset top fighters like Felix Sturm on his home turf, so there is almost no situation he has not seen.

"A lot of people say to me, ‘You’re not going to win this fight. You’re not going to beat this guy,’" Geale said. "But I’ve had that before. I actually prefer being in this situation. Coming in as the favorite and the guy people say, ‘You’re going to do this or that,’ I don’t like that position as much. I prefer to be here. I’m focused on myself."

Both of Geale’s losses were tight split decisions. He never has been knocked out, which sounds like a perfect challenge for Golovkin to take on, but Geale is more concerned with victory than continuing his knockout streak.

"I don’t think about that at all and don’t predict that," Geale said. "I just know I have to do my best in the ring and to make my job easier."

Geale prepared by choosing sparring partners with strong punching power, but knows it would be a mistake to assume that is all the 32-year-old Kazakh fighter has in his bag of tricks.

"I had some great sparring leading up to this, some strong guys with huge amounts of power as well, and I had some very skilled guys as well, which is really good because Golovkin, while he has good power, he’s definitely very skilled as well," Geale said. "We’re not going in there expecting a guy who comes out with big, wild punches."

A lot is at stake for Golovkin. Another win on American television and in Madison Square Garden would continue his ascent to the top of the sport. Names like Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and even Andre Ward have been talked about for future fights. However, an upset win could do just as much for Geale, who is looking to vault back to the top of the division.

However, Golovkin is 2-0 at Madison Square Garden and 3-0 in New York, so he feels like he has the home-field advantage.