Kazakhstan's destructive Gennady Golovkin (29-0, 26) successfully retained his WBA Middleweight world title again last weekend though left some fans, including myself, wondering what was next.
We all want Golovkin to fight a real rival, some one that could really allow us to gauge how good he is. Instead it seems the Middleweight division is full of fighters waiting for someone else to "expose" Golovkin before being willing to step in the ring with him. They'd rather wait for Golovkin to lose and pick up the title from whoever beats him rather than show the bravery of actually getting in their to beat him.
Sadly the lack of willing on part of the other Middleweights has left us in a bit of a frustrating situation.
Firstly the "de facto" Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez has shown no interest in fighting Golovkin. He'd rather look for big pay days and retire with a bank full of money. No problem there with him fighting Miguel Cotto next though lets not forget that Martinez himself was given his chance when Paul Williams agree to fight him in what turned out to be one of the best fights of 2009. If any fighter should know about being ignored it should be Martinez who, if he's not willing to fight Golovkin, should at least give him props.
Instead of giving Golovkin props for taking out a swathe of the Middleweight contenders Martinez has actually been very disrespectful to to Kazakh. Less than a year ago he was quoted, by his advisor, as saying "he would toy with him for 12 rounds". Now however their seems to be a clear unwillingness to actually back up those words. Strange what a difference a few months make.
If Martinez is the first choice then American Peter Quillin, the WBO champion, would clearly be the second choice. Unfortunately Quillin would be unavailable to fight Golovkin due to contractual obligations the fighters have to various television channels. Golovkin is a HBO fighter whilst Quillin is a Showtime fighter.
For Quillin though the TV deal is a wonderful get out clause of fighter a man he showed no intention of fighting anyway. He has talked the talk whilst hiding behind his advisor Al Haymon and the politics of the situation whilst fighting much lesser fighters than Golovkin, including Gabriel Rosado who Golovkin defeated before Quillin fought him. If Quillin was showing an intention of fighting other elite Middleweights then one may believe that the politics was the only wall in the way of the fight. Instead it's clear that he has little to no intention of fighting any other champion.
Whilst Martinez is chasing his big pay days and Quillin is hiding behind Al Haymon and Showtime it seems the only available champion would be IBF champion Felix Sturm. Sturm unfortunately showed his true colours when Golovkin was his mandatory and he did all he could to avoid the hard hitting Kazakh.
The German, who looked rejuvenated when he stopped Darren Barker last year, would clearly have apprehensions of traveling to the US for a Golovkin bout whilst Golovkin would be equally unlikely to travel to Germany for the bout. Unfortunately this is a bout that seems to have been more plausible when Golovkin was an unknown to the US market.
With none of the fellow champions willing to fight Golovkin we then need to look at the top selection of contenders.
Unfortunately WBA #1 ranked challenger Martin Murray has shown his true colours already. Offered the Monaco fight early in February Murray declined it. Sadly, due to Murray's criminal record, the British fighter won't be allowed to fight in the US and with the Monaco date passing him by it's obvious that he never fancied his chances.
Rather than try and draw Golovkin outside of the US Murray has instead agreed to fight Sturm in Germany for the IBF title. The money might be better than he'd have gotten on the Monaco show but he certainly wouldn't have been receiving peanuts either way.
Another top contender, and the man I wanted to see fight Golovkin, Daniel Geale has turned down the Golovkin fight stating that HBO were unwilling to change the date of the fight. Golovkin and his team had booked a specific venue for his return to the US in April. They booked it months in advance and Geale, who could have taken the fight, has instead complain about Australian audiences not being able to see it live because it clashes with UFC.
The fact Golovkin is willing to go head-to-head with UFC in America shows his confidence in drawing an audience. Unfortunately Geale, who apparently wants to let his Australian compatriots see him getting flattened, isn't confident enough in taking the fight and making the Australian TV companies feel ashamed of not supporting their man.
One possibility that could make sense would be Geale's compatriot Sam Soliman. Although he would be an unpopular choice with HBO and US fans he would be allowed by the WBA, who rank him at #15. To his credit Soliman is an old school fighter who will get in the ring for a fight with anyone. Aged 40 however he would likely be slated by Golovkin critics as little more than an old and second rate challenger.
Another man who is unavailable, and has actually turned Golovkin down in the past, is Marco Antonio Rubio who will be fighting for the WBC interim title in the coming months. On paper Rubio would have been a decent opponent but his unwillingness to meet Golovkin in the past, and his guaranteed WBC interim title fight rule him out as a possible foe.
If we go through the WBA rankings there is only really 3 plausible opponents left.
Jarrod Fletcher, Sergio Mora and Andy Lee, pictured. Unfortunately Fletcher would be destroyed and everyone knows it, Mora is about as TV friendly as a colonoscopy and this effectively leaves us with Andy Lee.
Lee, who has a sizable following from Irish-Americans, isn't very good. He's no better than Adama, who Golovkin just stopped, or Matthew Macklin, who Golovkin has also stopped. Thankfully he is known to the US audience, though he's probably best known for being stopped by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Brian Vera. Doesn't bode well for him if he gets in to the ring with Golovkin.
Gennady might be the most exciting Middleweight on the planet but it's obvious that he's a real nightmare to match. The only men who fans want to see him fight won't touch him and instead he's reserved to wiping out every B and C grade fighter in the division.
Unfortunately it can hurt to be as good as Golovkin is.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.