Gennady Golovkin to return on July 26 at Madison Square Garden


LOS ANGELES — Gennady Golovkin will return to the ring on July 26 at Madison Sqaure Garden in New York City against an opponent to be named, the fighter and his management announced on Saturday. Former WBA/IBF middleweight beltholder Daniel Geale is the front-runner to face the undefeated middleweight titleholder in the HBO-televised fight.

Golovkin (29-0, 26 knockouts), who will be making the 10th defense of his WBA middleweight title, sat down with a small group of boxing writers at the LAX Marriott a few hours before the start of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado card at the nearby Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

The 32-year-old Kazakhstan native, who last fought on Feb. 1 when he stopped Osumanu Adama in seven rounds, thought he had a July 19 date set with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. but the Mexican star opted to go another direction.

"We agreed to all the terms and made a lot of consessions, financially and otherwise, such as coming up to super middleweight, to make the Chavez fight happen," said Tom Loeffler, managing director for K2 Promotions, which represents Golovkin. "We thought we had a deal and Bob Arum (Chavez's promoter) was confident that he could deliver the fight but it just didn't work out for whatever reason."

"I'm disappointed that it didn't happen," Golovkin said through an interpreter. "I feel I have a lot to prove in boxing and I was confident that I would have proved it with that fight. I hope it can happen later this year."

That remains to be seen but Golovkin and his management don't want to wait around.

The Chavez fight would have been an HBO Pay Per View event at The Forum. Golovkin's July 26 date will be a regular HBO broadcast. The Mike Perez-Bryant Jennings heavyweight bout that was recently postponed because Perez suffered a training injury will be the likely co-featured bout to the main event, which Loeffler says will be held in Madison Sqaure Garden's big arena, not the 5,000-seat Theater where Golovkin fought Gabriel Rosado and Curtis Stevens last year.

Loeffler thinks the July 26 show could be the best doubleheader on an HBO Championship Boxing telecast this year if Geale agrees to partake in the main event. Golovkin was once Geale's mandatory challenger but the tough and talented Australian lobbied the WBA to allow him to fight Anthony Mundine instead. Now, Team Golovkin is lobbying the WBA to allow their fighter to face No. 3-rated Geale instaed of the sanctioning body's mandatory challenger Jarrod Fletcher, who is viewed as an inferior opponent by most fans and media.

Golovkin says he'll honor whatever decision the WBA makes but he views Geale as worthy challenger.

"He had two world title belts at one time," Golovkin said. "I know he's good, so why not fight? I respect everyone. That's my job as a fighter."

Loeffler thinks Geale is a marketable opponent for the HBO broadcast.

"Geale has fought on HBO before (a close decision loss to Darren Barker last year) and there's history with him and Gennady, who was his mandatory challenger more than once. We made an offer to him to fight in April and it didn't work out with Australian pay per view dates, but now everything should work out. I'm in talks with his promoter (Gary Shaw) and it's going well."

Golvokin, who fought four times last year, emerging as one of the sport's — and HBO's — most popular fighters, says he won't be able to be as active in 2014. The sudden death of his father in March took him out of his constant training schedule for more than a month while he observed his culture's traditional bereavement rituals.

"This year I will probably only fight two more times, but I hope to fight four times next year," said Golovkin, who wants his third fight of 2014 to be a pay-per-view caliber event.

"I'm open to fight anyone. I want to see who is ready and willing to fight me. If Chavez does not want to fight me, I hope to fight the other champions in my division, such as 'Kid Chocolate' [WBO titleholder Peter Quillin]."

Quillin's current promotional/network allegiance is a roadblock to that particular unification bout, but the winner of the June 7 Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto showdown for THE RING/WBC middleweight championship is available, if he's interested in facing Golovkin, who plans to break camp to be ringside for that HBO Pay Per View fight that takes place at Madison Square Garden.

"It's a very interesting fight," Golovkin said of Martinez-Cotto. "Cotto has very good technique and a very strong left hand, but Sergio is bigger an stronger. I think Miguel is too small for Sergio, but we'll see. Of course, I want to figh thte winner."

Beyond the Martinez-Cotto winner, Loeffler says the winner of the May 31 Carl Froch-George Groves rematch, which is expected to draw 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London, and former five-time super middleweight titelhodler Mikkel Kessler, who recently announced that he plans to continue his career, are targets for Team Golovkin.

Loeffler says Golovkin, who lives in Germany, is willing to travel to Europe to make those fights — which would likely take place at super middleweight — with the popular British fighters or the Danish star.

Loeffler said his third fight of this year would take place in October or November, depending on the result of his July 26 bout.