Next For Golovkin: Martinez? Ward? Quillin?
Gennady Golovkin's promoter Tom Leoffler of K2 has expended a good deal of energy the last couple years telling people that Golovkin is the real damn deal.
I asked him how he was doing on a phoner Monday afternoon, and he chuckled, and replied: "A lot better now that I don't have to convince people that he can really fight."
Yes, indeed, the buzz-meter ticked high on social media after Golovkin went liver hunting on Matthew Macklin, and stopped the Anglo-Irish challenger in round three, much earlier than Sergio Martinez did (round 11) when those men clashed last year.
But this is the age of opinion, where opinion can pass as facts if repeated hard enough and enough times. There will be holdouts, and maybe rightly so, that caution us not to anoint Golovkin as a future all-time great just yet. They will not be shy about labeling Golovkin a still-unproven product. I asked Loeffler (pictured, far left, with Golovkin and trainer Abel Sanchez) what Golovkin would need to do to convince holdouts that he's the realest of deals.
"How people react and what they believe, that's something I can't change," he told me. "Our plan continues to be the same. At some point everyone will be convinced he is the best middleweight in the world."
Loeffler understands that until he's beaten, Sergio Martinez deserves the respect of that title, so as of now, beating Martinez would be the best method to remove all doubters from the conversation. (Although, I can picture folks painting Martinez as too-far-past-his prime if and when Golovkin fights him, and beats him, so it's possible Golovkin woon't convince the world of his worth until he beats Andre Ward).
Loffler said he's first focused on more immediate future plans for his wrecking ball from Kazhkstan. Golovkin, who is signed exclusively to HBO, has an HBO date in November. He could fight in an international fight before then, Loeffler said, if the right opportunity is found. And a Martinez fight, that would depend on when Martinez gets back in the ring; he's rehabbing some injuries from his last fight, against Martin Murray on April 27, and likely won't be back until March. "Early summer or fall" of next year, is a possibility, Loeffler said.
I admit, I did let my mind wander Saturday, and ponder a Golovkin fight against Ward, at super middleweight. Loeffler brought me back to earth, and said Golovkin has much work yet to do at 160. It feels like to me the winner of the August 17 Daniel Geale-Darren Barker fight is in the lead to get a crack at Golovkin in that November slot. But looking further down speculation road, I asked Loeffler, do you think Ward blunts Golovkin's power, defuses him? "Absolutely, Gennady would carry his power to 168," Loeffler said. He said he thinks Ward, who Loeffler termed "a great fighter and great person outside the ring," would be receptive to a fight with Golovkin.
Another name that naturally pops up is charismatic power-puncher Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin; he holds the WBO middleweight belt. An impediment to a Golovkin-Quillin fight could be the divide between HBO and Golden Boy. Who would televise that fight, since Quillin, advised by Al Haymon and promoted by Golden Boy, isn't welcome on an HBO card? Loeffler, wisely, counsels that many things can change over time. "If both of them continue to win that creates a lot of interest, and issues can be fixed between the networks, if the fight is big enough," Loeffler said. "We have a good relationship with Golden Boy and Showtime." The dynamic which has people taking sides, he said, could shift, or the demand on the part of fans could force a truce, basically.