Golovkin: 'It's going to be a big fight'

— -- Based upon what he has been able to do inside the ring during his explosive invasion of America over the past 22 months, there hasn't been much of anything negative to say about unbeaten middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin as a fighter.

But the one prevailing criticism about the heavy-hitting native of Kazakhstan has been his inability to draw top middleweights into the ring against him in order to prove whether or not his meteoric rise as one of boxing's most exciting attractions is, in fact, all it has appeared.

Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs), 32, will get that chance Saturday when he defends his belt against former 160-pound titlist Daniel Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) of Australia at New York's Madison Square Garden (HBO, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT).

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist recently took time away from training camp to talk with ESPN.com about his preparations for Saturday's fight:

How does it feel to be focused on boxing once again after a long layoff following the death of your father?
I'm so happy to be back and I feel much, much better to get back to training and I'm so happy to get back into the ring [on Saturday] and I feel a lot better. And I feel like everything is going the way I want it to be in my training.

What is it specifically about your opponent Daniel Geale's skill set that makes him such a dangerous opponent?
I respect Daniel Geale a lot because he is an ex-champion. At this time and for this fight, he is very motivated. I expect him to be much more prepared for this fight than he was for his previous fight [against Darren Barker] because he has a big motivation. He knows his situation, and he knows me as a fighter. So his motivation is the main thing that he has right now.

So many are calling Geale the toughest fight of your career, but which opponent has been the most difficult so far in your career?
I can't tell you exactly which one was the hardest one, because all of the fighters were different. I hope that my hardest fight will happen in the future but at this time I can't tell you. All of them were good in difficult ways. I can't answer this question right now.

Why is fighting in the big arena at Madison Square Garden so important to you?
First of all, it's very important because it's such a historic place and is a big arena, so I am so happy about that. That's the main thing. And the second thing is that it's kind of a big test for me because my opponent is from Australia, and this fight will show how many people will be there. It's kind of a test for my rating. So we will see how it will be shown on the TV and how many people will come to the arena. So it's kind of like a test. It's going to be a very big fight.

You are always quick to give credit to your trainer, Abel Sanchez, for a great deal of your success. In what ways has his guidance helped you grow as a fighter in recent years?
I want to tell you only one thing: I respect him so much, not only as a trainer, but his personality. That's what I want to say.

Most people are focused on your power when talking about your strengths as a fighter. But how important has your footwork been to your success?
What I can say is that all my power -- in both my hands and in my footwork -- it's all the training. It's only there because of the hard training I put in during training camp.

Before you became a star in America, you got a chance to spar with names like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Canelo Alvarez and Peter Quillin. What did you learn from those experiences?

I had sparring with them, but at this point ... I was not excited about those sparring sessions. They were very light sparring, and I can't tell much about that. It was OK, but I'm not excited about that. It wasn't something I was impressed about.

What was your reaction to the way the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez fight played out?
That fight was very interesting, but I knew that Miguel Cotto was much stronger. I knew that he would win the fight, and that's what happened, much like I expected. But it was a very interesting fight, and Miguel Cotto was much stronger and better than Sergio Martinez.

You have been a middleweight titlist for almost four years, but how important is it for you to face the real middleweight champion before eventually moving up in weight?
My focus is on 160 pounds right now, and of course I would love to exchange the belts. Miguel Cotto would be a very interesting fight for me, and of course I would love to see who is the best right now in this category. It would be very interesting.

Do you think Cotto would accept a fight against you, considering his more lucrative options against smaller opponents?
I don't think about whether or not he will accept this fight, but I know we are in the same weight division, and of course I would love to have this fight in order to find out who is the best between the two of us. If he wants to accept it or not, I don't think about it.

You have routinely showed up at ringside as a spectator to so many big fights over the past year. Which current fighters are your favorite to watch perform?
Just one name: Manny Pacquiao.

What is the most important thing you need to focus on in Saturday's bout against Geale?
I have a goal in front of me, and in order to get to that goal I'm not thinking about one specific thing that I should concentrate on. I'm just doing my best and training a lot, and I want to be very prepared for the fight. That is the one thing.

You have become, in many ways, the darling of American fight fans over the past year or so. Why do you think you have been able to resonate so well?
I don't know why, but it's a feeling I get from my fans that I would like to thank them for. I am so happy to have them and am so happy that they support me. I would love to wish them a lot of health and to be happy. I am so glad to have them.