Unbeaten two-belt middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s pursuit of a 22nd consecutive knockout will take place April 23 at the Forum in Inglewood against unbeaten Dominic Wade.
Wade (18-0, 12 knockouts) was designated Golovkin’s mandatory challenger by the International Boxing Federation following a shoulder injury to Tureano Johnson.
“Because we couldn’t get another champion to fight, we chose the mandatory,” Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday morning. “It’ll be a challenge. Wade’s a young, hungry guy who jumped at it as soon as Tureano Johnson was hurt.”
The HBO-televised card is also expected to include a co-main event featuring flyweight world champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (44-0, 38 KOs), considered by some boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighter. Loeffler said negotiations with Gonzalez and his opponent aren’t complete.
“We’re finalizing details of Chocolatito, and if we can finalize it, it’d be a great combination -- the top two boxers in the world make them the best combination possible,” Loeffler said.
Golovkin, 33, drew a sellout crowd to Madison Square Garden to watch him add the IBF version of the middleweight title to his collection with an eighth-round stoppage of Canada’s previously unbeaten David Lemieux.
Thanks to the Lemieux showing and a May TKO of Willie Monroe in front of 12,732 at the Forum in May, Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez of Big Bear, was voted the Boxing Writers’ Assn. of America trainer of the year.
“The knockout is what he’s known for, it’s what Gennady and Abel train for, and it’s why he’s become such a fan favorite,” Loeffler said of Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs). “He provides excitement. At this point, the fans are expecting a knockout.
“He can stop anyone with his right or left hand, and he can stop them early or late in the fight … because of his punching power and being so well-conditioned.”
Kazakhstan's Golovkin, who resides in Los Angeles, said in a prepared statement: “I’m happy to fight again at the Forum in front of my fans and friends in Los Angeles. Dominic Wade is a very hungry and skilled middleweight who ... will be another big test for me."
The fight will mark a reunion of sorts between Wade's powerful boxing manager, Al Haymon, and HBO. The network and manager split almost three years ago after Haymon led an exodus of fighters, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., toward rival premium-cable network Showtime.
Loeffler said he negotiated with Wade’s Southland-based promoter, Tom Brown, for the fight.
Since Golovkin also owns the more significant of two World Boxing Assn. middleweight belts, Loeffler said making a deal with a Haymon fighter is “a great first step,” because the other WBA champion is Daniel Jacobs, also managed by Haymon.
“Daniel Jacobs is someone at the high end of the list for competitive fights for Gennady,” Loeffler said.
Golovkin was positioned to fight new World Boxing Council middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico in another unification bout this spring, but representatives of both fighters agreed to stage the mandatory WBC meeting later this year.
Alvarez beat former champion Miguel Cotto in November at a 155-pound catch-weight and he’ll make his first title defense in an HBO pay-per-view at Las Vegas’ new T-Mobile Arena on May 7 at 155 pounds again versus England’s former 140-pound world champion Amir Khan.
“We’re confident if ‘Canelo’ -- or the winner of that fight -- doesn’t fight Gennady, they’ll be stripped of the [WBC] title,” Loeffler said. “[Golovkin-Alvarez] is the biggest fight in boxing, so there’s an incentive to make it happen.”
Tickets for Golovkin-Wade go on sale Tuesday, priced from $30 to $400.