Unbeaten middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin and the people directing his career understand the challenges of getting American fight fans interested in a Kazakhstan boxer whom everyone seems to be avoiding.
Rather than sulk or escape to safer overseas paydays, Golovkin (30-0, 27 knockouts) will fight here for the first time on Oct. 18 when he defends his World Boxing Assn. title at StubHub Center against veteran Marco Antonio Rubio (59-6-1, 51 KOs).
Golovkin said he embraces the challenge of knocking out the taller, older challenger from Mexico, who hasn't been knocked down since 2004.
"This is a big step for me … first fight in L.A., biggest name in the division from Mexico," Golovkin said. "Good boxer, smart, not scared. It's a good fight for me."
Golovkin's Big Bear-based trainer, Abel Sanchez, has said no 160-pounder can last 12 rounds with his fighter. Golovkin will carry a 17-fight streak of knockouts into this bout, including a third-round technical knockout of former middleweight champion Daniel Geale last month in Madison Square Garden.
While he awaits bigger fights, with opponents such as Saul "Canelo" Alvarez or Miguel Cotto, Golovkin is trying to increase his brand awareness.
"My work is in the ring and in training camp … middleweight division is no problem to me," Golovkin said. "I understand my situation. Hard work every day is my life. Outside the ring, I leave that to [promoter Tom Loeffler]."
Fluent in three languages, Golovkin has made big strides in English, answering nearly every question without translation.
He said he's willing to take on everyone, ranging from his "dream fight" against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at 154 pounds to another unbeaten, Andre Ward, at 168 pounds.
Golovkin recently got his green card for U.S. residency and said he's planning to move his wife, Alina, and 5-year-old son, Vadim, to Southern California in the near future.
Earlier this year, his father, Gennady, died of a heart attack at age 67. The son went into a 40-day mourning period that led him to cancel a fight in April.
"I fight for him, in his honor," Golovkin said. "Boxing is my life, it's how I support my family."
Said Loeffler: "His fights are broadcast in more than 100 countries, and his style — the knockouts — translate everywhere in the world. We think with Gennady, we're capable of bringing back the idea of a true world champion. The way he's performing, it's having the Mike Tyson effect on others, but we believe he's right on schedule to where we want him to be.
"Two years ago, he was an unknown. Now, he's in the top five in most pound-for-pound lists. The West Coast fight is part of our strategy … step by step, we believe 2015 will be a breakout year."
The card's co-main event will be a WBA featherweight title fight between Nonito Donaire (33-2, 21 KOs) and Jamaica's Nicholas Walters (24-0, 20 KOs).