LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Gennady Golovkin puts his unbeaten record and World Boxing Association middleweight world title on the line Saturday against resilient Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio – with an eye toward even bigger things ahead.
A victory for the hard-hitting Kazakh star, 30-0 with 27 of those victories coming by knockout, could get him in line to face the winner of the projected fight between World Boxing Council champion Miguel Cotto and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Las Vegas in May.
Golovkin’s brutal three-round demolition of former champion Daniel Geale of Australia at Madison Square Garden in July was his 17th successive knock-out – a streak stretching back to 2008.
But he has yet to fight on a major money-spinning pay-per-view television card, and at 32 he’s eager make that leap.
Promoter Tom Loeffler certainly believes Golovkin should be there.
“Rubio is clearly the best move at this time for GGG and will lead to the winner of Cotto/Canelo fighting him or vacating the WBC title,” he said. “How some people rate Cotto over GGG at 160 is beyond me.
“Nobody that I have spoken to thinks he would have a chance against GGG.”
Although Golovkin offers plenty of fireworks in the ring, he eschews the pre-bout baiting and trash-talking beloved of many fight fans.
Trainer Abel Sanchez told the Los Angeles Times that when he first met Golovkin, he didn’t believe he could be vicious in the ring.
“He’s too well-mannered,” Sanchez said, although that assessment changed when he began training Golovkin in California.
“When he hit the mitts, I felt it all over, down to my toes,” Sanchez said.
Golovkin, who launched his professional career in Germany after winning a silver medal at the Athens Olympics, spent much of 2013 training with Sanchez at Big Bear, in the mountains east of Los Angeles.
The bout with Rubio at the StubHub Centre in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson – home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy – sold out quickly.
Extra seats and a standing-room section were added – a sign not only of Rubio’s ability to draw a large following of Mexican-American fans but also of Golovkin’s growing popularity.
Rubio, 34, brings a 59-6-1 record to the bout. Since a 2012 loss to Julio Cesar Chavez jnr he’s 6-0, although none of those fights were against top-flight middleweights.
“He’s got power. He’s got a very good left hand,” Golovkin said. “He does a great job in his fights and he’s got a good record. I know it’s not an easy fight for him or for me. But the fans will really enjoy it.”
On the same card, Nonito Donaire of the Philippines defends his World Boxing Association featherweight world title against Jamaican Nicholas Walters.
Donaire, who has won titles at 112, 118 and 122 pounds, has recently lacked the dominance he enjoyed in an outstanding 2012 – when he went 4-0 with two knock-outs in world title fights.
He’ll be making his first defence of the featherweight title he won in Macau in May, when he defeated South African Simpiwe Vetyeka in a fight that ended in an anti-climactic technical decision.
In Walters he’ll be taking on a hard-hitting fighter hungry for success in his first world title fight.
Donaire brings a record of 33-2 with 21 knock-outs to the fight, while Walters, fighting for the second time in the United States, is 24-0 with 20 knock-outs.
“He’s a very powerful puncher,” Donaire acknowledged. “Anybody can see that. And that’s what we’re looking out for is his power. I mean, I have the same thing.”