Gennady Golovkin is all too aware of what happened last weekend at Madison Square Garden. He promises a repeat monumental boxing upset won’t occur Saturday night when he meets Steve Rolls.
Golovkin has been one of his generation’s best champions. His two bouts with Canelo Alvarez were classics, and a third could be coming later in 2019 if Triple G takes care of Rolls.
Ah, but that’s where Anthony Joshua went so wrong while defending his four heavyweight belts against Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua had his sights set more on what figures to be ahead than on who was in front of him in the ring. Ruiz made him pay.
Golovkin gives a wry smile, shakes his head and swears that all the tangential stuff has been and will remain exactly that. He notes that all boxers should have learned a lesson from Joshua-Ruiz.
No one has ever questioned Golovkin’s attitude, or his skills. He is 38-1-1 with 34 knockouts. The loss and draw were to Alvarez, and both were as close as prize fights can get.
Triple G has taken on nearly all comers since his first U.S. fight in 2012. He’s beaten Daniel Jacobs, David Lemieux and Kell Brook, all with championship credentials.
The 37-year-old Kazakh carries no titles into this bout. He hasn’t fought since the loss to Alvarez for the WBA and WBC middleweight crowns last Sept. 15, and he has changed trainers to Johnathan Banks.
He’s also looked fresh and eager in workouts, and as his promoter, Tom Loeffler, mentions often, the Garden is like his second home.
“It is good to be back at the Garden,” Triple G said with a smile. “Very good.”
Rolls could erase that smile. The incentive certainly is there for the 35-year-old Canadian who is 19-0 with 10 KOs. And he’s switched dressing rooms at the Garden to use the same one as Ruiz did.
“It’s been a long road and a long time coming,” said Rolls, who is facing, by far, his most accomplished opponent. Of course, so was Ruiz.
“I am more than ready to take on this huge task and the opponent presented in front of me. I look forward to solidifying myself as one of the best in the division.”
Loeffler believes Rolls is as dangerous an adversary as anyone Triple G could be fighting.
“When we were going through who would be the right fit for this fight, the return of GGG to MSG, we went through a lot of names. Lou had called me up and proposed Steve Rolls. He’s actually proposed him a few times over the past, said he was never able to get a big fight for Steve. As soon as we gave the green light to Lou, there was no hesitation on his side or on Rolls’ side. He wants to show that be belongs with a world-class fighter like GGG. He wants to show he has the same heart that Andy Ruiz showed on Saturday night,” Loeffler said.
“Johnathon filled impossible shoes to fill. People say these are impossible shoes to fill. How’s Johnathon going to improve upon that success? I’ve seen him in training camp, I’ve seen the sparring, and there’s definitely a twinkle in Gennadiy’s eyes. He’s learning some new things, you see how fast he is on his feet, and this is really what fans want to see – how is GGG going to look with this long of a break, and a new trainer? That’s what we’re looking for Saturday night.”