Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin had big plans this summer. He hoped to face super middleweight star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in the main event of an HBO PPV card that was being put together for July 19 at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
It would have been Golovkin's first appearance on pay-per-view, would have meant a move up to 168 pounds, and it was a matchup that had fireworks written all over it.
It would have been a big deal for Golovkin, one of the fastest-rising attractions in boxing. His side was done, but Chavez, who doesn't seem to know whether he wants to fight anymore, could not come to terms with Top Rank, his promoter. The fight was never consummated, and now Chavez will sit for who knows how long.
But Golovkin was not about to miss out on a summer fight, especially after having to cancel an April 26 fight with Andy Lee following the untimely Feb. 18 death of his father, which left Golovkin deeply saddened during a 40-day ritual mourning period and with many family obligations to handle.
Once the Chavez fight fell apart, Golovkin and his promoter, K2 Promotions' Tom Loeffler, zeroed in on their next choice, and it was a pretty darn good one: former unified middleweight titleholder Daniel Geale, who many believe represents GGG's stiffest test.
We'll find out just how big a test when Golovkin makes his 11th title defense against Geale on Saturday night (HBO, 9:30 ET/PT) at Madison Square Garden in New York -- Golovkin's first fight in the main arena, scaled for about 9,000, after he twice drew raucous crowds to the 5,000-seat MSG Theater.
Golovkin -- whose 89.66 percent knockout ratio is the highest among boxing's active titleholders -- has wanted to fight top opponents, but few have been willing to face him. So four years and all these defenses into his title reign, Geale is clearly, on paper at least, his best opponent.
"Yes, absolutely, because he has a specific style," Golovkin said. "He has proved that in his fights and it will be difficult to solve. Daniel is a great fighter. I have watched his tapes, and the last fight in particular makes me realize this is not going to be an easy fight."
Said trainer Abel Sanchez: "He's the most accomplished guy we've faced so far. But the pressure and the power and the strength of Gennady, there's no one out there at 160 pounds who is going to stay 12 rounds with him."
In the significant co-feature, undefeated heavyweights Mike Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs), 28, a Cuban defector living in Ireland, meets Philadelphia's Bryant Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs), 29, in an elimination fight that will determine the mandatory challenger for the winner of the fall fight between world titleholder Bermane Stiverne and current mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder.
Golovkin, 32, of Kazakhstan, and Geale, 33, of Australia, have been on a collision course for a couple of years. At one point, after Geale outpointed Felix Sturm in Germany to unify titles in 2012, Golovkin was his mandatory challenger. Rather than facing him, Geale vacated one of his belts to take a big-money rematch with countryman Anthony Mundine, a fight Geale won easily to avenge his first career defeat.