As Gennady Golovkin prepared to leave his Santa Monica home for New York on Saturday ahead of his fight against Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden on June 8, he admitted it was simply a steppingstone toward the fight he believes everyone wants to see.
“I want Canelo, I want that fight, probably in September,” Golovkin said of Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez. “Everybody always asks me about that fight. I think DAZN will make it happen.”
Alvarez signed a five-year, 11-fight deal with the sports streaming service last year. Golovkin signed a three-year, six-fight deal with DAZN in March. Golovkin’s interest in the deal was clear after he absorbed the first loss of his career to Alvarez last September in a controversial majority decision that cost him the WBA (Super), WBC and IBO middleweight titles.
“One of the biggest reasons Gennady signed with DAZN is that was the clearest path to a third fight with Canelo,” said Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler. “DAZN made it clear that they would do everything in their power to make that third fight happen.”
The third fight would likely take place Sept. 14, during Mexican Independence Day weekend, which along with Cinco de Mayo weekend have become the two biggest dates on the boxing calendar. The bigger question is where the fight would take place. The previous two fights between Alvarez and Golovkin took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but Golovkin failed to win either bout, losing a controversial split draw in the first fight and a contentious majority decision in the second. His camp would prefer the fight be held somewhere outside Nevada.
“This is a business,” Golovkin said. “If it’s better for the fight to be in New York, let’s go to New York. If it’s better for it to be in Dallas, let’s go to Dallas. Why not? I think AT&T Stadium would be great.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has hosted both Golovkin and Alvarez at games at AT&T Stadium over the last couple of years and has publicly coveted that mega-fight. The Cowboys are on the road that weekend and there are no other events scheduled at the venue then.
“We have nothing against Vegas,” Loeffer said. “MGM treated us great and T-Mobile is a great arena, but when he arguably won both fights and out of six judges, he only got one to score the fight for him, there’s something wrong there. If there’s a situation where we could have the fight at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, the Alamodome in San Antonio or Madison Square Garden in New York, that would be great. They have all shown an interest is hosting that fight. They all want this super fight.”
While Golovkin wants a third fight with Alvarez in September, he insists he’s not looking past his fight with Rolls, a 35-year-old Canadian who despite a 19-0 record is a relative unknown in the United States. Golovkin admits he didn’t know much about Rolls before the fight was made but, given his record and DAZN’s interest in growing the company in Canada, the match made sense.
“I know he’s undefeated and it’s very important for me to understand he’s a professional athlete too,” Golovkin said. “This is boxing. This isn’t a game. This is a fight. It’s not going to be easy. One punch can change the fight. I know he’s hungry and this is the biggest chance of his career, so I’m ready.”
The fight will be Golovkin’s fourth at Madison Square Garden, his sixth including The Theater at Madison Square Garden. While New York has been his home away from home as a boxer, Los Angeles has been his actual home since he moved to the United States five years ago, with Big Bear serving as the site of his training camp. Golovkin lives in Santa Monica with his wife, Alina, and their two children, who were both born in L.A. Golovkin’s son, Vadim, is in grade school and loves playing hockey for the Junior Kings. Golovkin admits he's just a regular "hockey dad" when he’s not training for a fight, often showing up to games and practices with doughnuts for the kids.
“I love L.A. and I wanted to come here for my wife and my kids and my whole family,” Golovkin said. “I want to be here for my future and my kids’ future. It’s an amazing place. My son loves all the sports in L.A. All the kids want to talk about the Lakers and LeBron James, not so much boxing.”
The fight against Rolls will be Golovkin’s first with new trainer Johnathan Banks after splitting with longtime trainer Abel Sanchez. A smile comes over Golovkin’s face as he describes his relationship with Banks, who fought under legendary trainer Emanuel Steward and trained heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
“I’m feeling different and younger now because of Johnathan,” Golovkin said. “I feel like a teenager now. He’s bringing so many new and different ideas. I feel like a student again. I needed him. I needed his experience. He has opened my eyes. I just feel different and I needed that in my career right now. You’re going to see a better fighter.”
Golovkin turned 37 in April and the DAZN deal will take him through his 40th birthday and likely the end of his career. He isn’t looking to slow down, however, and has his sights set on being the lineal middleweight champion by the end of the year.