LOS ANGELES-Gennady “GGG” Golovkin finally returned to his adopted home Los Angeles to a hero’s welcome with a weary smile but a look of relief on Thursday.
“I feel good, I’m excited,” he said.
Golovkin was no more excited than IBF middleweight titlist David Lemieux, who appeared looking like he stepped off a GQ Magazine photo shoot. Both middleweight champions walked into the Conga Room at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. More than 200 reporters anxiously awaited their arrivals.
Lemieux (34-2, 31 KOs) and Golovkin (33-0, 30 Kos) will meet in a middleweight unification bout on Oct. 17, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Expect plenty of Canadians and plenty of fight fans period to be flocking to the almost biblical fight arena. It will also be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
“Gennady has fans everywhere. Not just L.A. and New York, but anywhere,” said Tom Loeffler of K-2 Promotions.
It was a who’s who of boxing press conferences as television, radio, print and website reporters crowded the popular music venue across the sidewalk from ESPN’s headquarters. Who could have imagined Golovkin would be this popular three years ago?
Times have changed dramatically for the puncher from Kazakhstan. Finally, since teaming up with trainer Abel Sanchez, the Triple G team has deserved adulation and universal recognition. Most of the boxing world perceives Golovkin as the kingpin of the middleweight division. Lemieux wants to topple the king.
“It’s the first time ever someone with a world title is willing to step in the ring with Gennady,” said Loeffler, adding that 15,000 tickets have already been sold at the Garden.
Montreal’s Lemieux could have opted for an easier opponent, but instead, he’s heading for the mouth of the big lion.
“I like Triple G, but in the ring nobody likes nobody,” Lemieux said. “We’re two pitbulls.”
Golden Boy’s Eric Gomez likens the match to David and Goliath. And, he says that Lemieux chose to fight Golovkin. Not vice versa.
“He wants to be great,” said Gomez of Lemieux. “He doesn’t want to be a puppet who has to be told who to fight.”
Other middleweight titlists such as Andy Lee, Peter Quillin, and now Daniel Jacobs have ignored challenges from Golovkin. Though Lemieux just recently won the title and could have opted for a much easier fight, he chose the monster of the middleweight division.
“Yes I do feel I can win,” he said. “I’m not a dreamer, I’m a realist.”
You have to admire a fighter who believes in his own power. This fight will pit power versus power.
Golovkin, as usual, was diplomatic.
“I don’t know who’s going to win. I’m not God,” Golovkin told the crowd. “It’s a great day for sports.”
It truly is a great day for prizefighting.