Gennady Golovkin, one of the most dominant middleweight champions of all time, could be forgiven for becoming disillusioned with the boxing business.
After all, his two most high-profile fights, following a successful defence against current IBF World champion Daniel Jacobs, ended in contentious and unfavourable fashion. Many commentators feel he deserved to win both. The first fight with Canelo was inexplicably ruled a split draw, with a ludicrous scorecard of 118-110 in favour of the consensus loser no doubt adding insult to injury.
The rematch, on the other hand, was a compelling affair which constantly alternated between a high-level battle and toe-to-toe exchanges, but was ultimately ruled in favour of his cash cow opponent: someone who, according to critics, is invariably the subject of questionable scorecards. Now, taking into consideration the various factors including the dissolution of HBO boxing and belts changing hands in neighbouring divisions, we weigh up his five most likely opponents for the near future.
Billy Joe-Saunders: 27-0, 13 KO’s
The Hatfield fighter wowed audiences in December 2017, effortlessly shutting out the dangerous David Lemieux with twelve rounds of slick southpaw wizardry. His sensational performance, considered one of the best ever from a British fighter overseas, in turn prompted widespread suggestions that he would present a significant stylistic challenge to the division’s elite and would even be capable of dethroning them, albeit not in the same manner as the Lemieux performance.
After a turbulent 2018 laden with controversies and scandals outside of the ring, Saunders wants to be back doing what he does best and who better to do it against than Golovkin? The ageing Kazakh puncher is someone who is already familiar with these shores and an opponent who would attract a significant audience in Britain, especially after negotiations for a much-anticipated undisputed title unification between the pair fell through eighteen months ago.
Rob Brant: 24-1, 16 KO’s
After an unsuccessful venture at super-middleweight against Juergen Braehmer in the World Boxing Super Series, Brant bounced back in spectacular fashion by upsetting Ryota Murata in Las Vegas to capture the WBA secondary middleweight title. From the outset, Brant demonstrated the levels of skill and will associated with the great American fighters he seeks to replicate, as he out-threw and consistently out-landed his Japanese counterpart over twelve rounds in a historic unanimous decision win.
Golovkin, who was purportedly targeting a fight with Murata in Japan, may now turn his attention to Brant as the perfect name to propel himself back into middleweight relevance. The American, meanwhile, buoyed by his triumph over Murata who was similarly favoured by commentators, will naturally have other ideas.
Jermall Charlo: 28-0, 21 KO’s
The former IBF World light-middleweight champion – an athletic and explosive fighter from Texas with a charismatic personality – is the WBC interim middleweight titleholder and reportedly lined up to face Golovkin in the near future, who is ranked number one with the organisation despite his setback against Canelo.
Charlo, who headlined recently on Fox with an unconvincing points win over Matt Korobov, is a burgeoning fan attraction stateside, and a clinical victory over the self-styled ‘Iron Man’ in his return to action would send out a significant statement to the rest of the division, in addition to putting himself in prime position for a lucrative Canelo trilogy.
Demetrius Andrade: 27-0, 17 KO’s
Andrade no doubt rues a lost opportunity in November to showcase his skills against then-reigning champion Billy-Joe-Saunders, following the latter’s drug controversy. Instead, he comfortably outpointed obscure Namibian Walter Kautondokwa in Boston’s TD garden to obtain the vacant title, before dispatching of Artur Akakov with a controversial stoppage in the final round last Saturday night. Now looking to legitimise his championship tenure with a victory over an established name, Golovkin could be the perfect candidate in order to assert himself as the world’s premier fighter at 160lbs.
Callum Smith: 25-0, 18 KO’s
Liverpudlian Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith sprung a surprise in September and realised his potential on the same night, ruthlessly pummelling favourite George Groves into submission in the seventh round to claim the WBA World super-middleweight title and the Muhammad Ali trophy. After seemingly failing to tempt erstwhile pound-for-pound king Andre Ward out of retirement for a rumoured Anfield showdown, Smith – with his substantial size advantage, momentum, and skills – may fancy his chances at inflicting the fearsome Kazakhstani with his second career defeat.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________