Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin (38-1-1) returns to the ring on Saturday in a night of firsts; his first fight on DAZN, his first fight in 2019 and his first fight since his controversial majority decision loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The fight takes place at Madison Square Garden, a venue now synonymous with Andy Ruiz’s heavyweight heroics, and will see ‘GGG’ face the unbeaten, unknown and wisely unfavoured Canadian, Steve Rolls (19-0-0) in a 164-pound catch-weight contest.
‘This is a real fight,” GGG declared during Wednesday’s press conference, to a collection of journalists who surprisingly remained without titter or sideways glances as he said it. However, despite Rolls perfect record, he has never faced anyone remotely as decorated or vaunted as Gennady. Indeed, he has also never fought at a venue as lauded and prestigious as Madison Square Garden, where GGG holds a perfect 5-0 record.
There is an informal, tune-up/exhibition feel to this fight; with the intrigue obviously surrounding GGG, yet more in relation to possible future match-ups and how his developing relationship with new trainer Johnathon Banks compares to that under former long-term trainer Abel Sanchez, rather than on this fight itself.
Speculation persists that Golovkin will follow victory on Saturday with a September clash against P4P and PPV superstar, Saul Canelo Alvarez; completing a trilogy that history currently shows as comprising one draw and one Canelo victory, but which is widely considered in boxing circles to accurately consist of one GGG victory and a close return fight which could have gone either way. WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders also continues to reference Golovkin as an opponent, with the addition of Billy Joe’s world title perhaps being the prized factor which finally gets this fight made, following close, but ultimately-failed previous negotiations.
Yet whichever route we go from Saturday, one thing is likely, in the absence of another Herculean upset, we will no longer be talking about Steve Rolls.