Golovkin, Lemieux to meet in 160-lb title unification bout
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gennady Golovkin will meet David Lemieux in a three-belt middleweight title unification bout Oct. 17 in New York.
Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, announced the matchup Saturday after lengthy negotiations. The 160-pound champions will headline an HBO pay-per-view telecast at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) holds the WBA belt and the WBC interim belt, while Lemieux (34-2, 31 KOs) is the IBF middleweight champion.
The fight is the next summit in a remarkable rise for Golovkin, who has become one of the world’s most dominant boxers with 20 straight stoppage victories and 14 title defenses over the past seven years. The Kazakh fighter who lives in Los Angeles has struggled to tempt big-name boxers into the ring with him while he attempts to unify the four major middleweight titles.
With Lemieux, Golovkin has landed a date with one of the world’s top 160-pounders and a fellow champion.
“Finally we were able to get somebody to agree to fight Gennady, somebody that had something to risk,” Loeffler told The Associated Press. “Whenever there was a champion or somebody that had something to risk to fight Gennady, they would never get in the ring with him. … The fans appreciate when a fighter has a lot of risk but steps up to the plate. That’s what makes a compelling fight.”
Golovkin also will make his pay-per-view headlining debut against Lemieux, a Montreal native. The IBF champion also is on a roll with nine straight victories.
Lemieux won his title in June, knocking down Hassan N’Dam four times on the way to a comfortable decision victory. Lemieux has stopped seven of his last nine opponents with his big-punching style, but he also was stopped by Marco Antonio Rubio in 2011.
“It’s a true middleweight championship, and that’s what Gennady has always wanted,” Loeffler said. “He has always wanted to show he’s the best fighter in the world at 160 pounds. And then once he unifies the division, he can go somewhere else. But all this talk about moving up or down, it’s always been his priority to unify the middleweight division.”
Golovkin stopped Rubio in the second round last fall to earn the WBC interim belt and a shot at regular WBC champion Miguel Cotto, who instead plans to fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in November. The winner of the Cotto-Alvarez fight is obligated to fight Golovkin or Lemieux next, or forfeit the WBC belt.
While Alvarez has said he is willing to fight Golovkin next year, Cotto’s camp has publicly acknowledged little interest in risking his career against the bigger, hard-punching Golovkin.
HBO has enthusiastically backed Golovkin’s stateside rise over the past three years, and his move onto pay-per-view puts him in the top tier of fighters. The undercard is likely to include another appearance by dynamic Nicaraguan flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who knocked out Edgar Sosa in the second round on the undercard of Golovkin’s win over Willie Monroe in May.
After fighting twice in Southern California and once in Monaco over the past year, Golovkin will make his fourth appearance at Madison Square Garden. He fought twice in the theater before making his big-arena debut last July with a spectacular knockout of Daniel Geale.
“(Pay-per-view) is a big step,” Loeffler said. “It opens up a whole different door for us to make these types of offers to get fighters in the ring with him. HBO is very confident in the success of this event, and the Garden made it clear with the deal they put together, they wanted this fight. This is really where Gennady launched his career, in New York, in the world’s most famous arena. And for him to come back now after being more than a year away, it’s very exciting for everyone involved.”
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