As bigger names shy away, Gennady Golovkin takes May 16 Forum fight

As bigger names shy away, Gennady Golovkin takes May 16 Forum fight
Gennady Golovkin celebrates after defeating Nobuhiro Ishida for the WBA middleweight title in March 2013. (Lionel Cironneau / Associated Press)

Gennady Golovkin wants a big fight and he wants to stay active.

Satisfying one of those missions, the unbeaten middleweight world champion from Kazakhstan riding a 19-fight knockout streak will fight Willie Monroe Jr. (19-1, six KOs) May 16 at the Forum in Inglewood.


HBO will televise the bout.

Golovkin (32-0, 29 KOs), coming off a Feb. 21 technical knockout of England's Martin Murray in Monte Carlo, has made it clear he has interest in major bouts against the likes of the biggest names between 154 and 168 pounds.

But another middleweight champion, Miguel Cotto, has rebuffed his advances, as has former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who has a bout scheduled in April.

Cotto, the World Boxing Council champion, recently signed with rapper Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports and is moving toward another opponent.

Former 154-pound champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez could make sense for a fight later this year, Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler told The Times on Friday. Alvarez has a May 9 bout scheduled against James Kirkland on HBO.

Monroe won last year's Boxcino tournament on ESPN, then defeated hard-hitting Bryan Vera on Jan. 16. Monroe is ranked the No. 2 middleweight contender by the World Boxing Assn. Golovkin is the WBA champion.

"We weren't getting a response from Miguel Cotto's side, so we had to move forward and take the best available opponent, who is Willie Monroe," Loeffler said. "Slick, southpaw boxer … the most challenging opponent right now.

"The style is going to make an interesting fight. Gennady is an aggressive fighter who comes forward and Monroe has never been stopped before."

Golovkin also has the opportunity to fight in a larger Southland venue after knocking out Mexico's Marco Antonio Rubio in the second round at Carson's StubHub Center in October. That bout drew a standing-room-only crowd.

"Based on the reaction we got there, we said let's keep the momentum going in L.A. after the Murray victory," Loeffler said.

Golovkin recently moved his family to Los Angeles and he trains under Abel Sanchez in Big Bear.

Although a greater opponent and purse is sought for Golovkin, Loeffler said, "We can't force people to get in the ring. Not Chavez, not Miguel Cotto, even though it's his obligation [through the WBC]."

Having HBO's financial backing can help, but there still needs to be a willingness from a standout opponent.

"Our philosophy to keep Gennady fighting has made him one of the most formidable boxers in the sport," Loeffler said. "That's what we'll continue to do: force fighters to either give up their titles or get in the ring with Gennady."