Middleweight juggernaut Gennady Golovkin is fast running out of threatening opposition, but there’s still a handful of characters out there who shouldn’t be overlooked. Golovkin’s immediate ambition is to become the undisputed champ at 160 pounds, so there’s a great chance he’ll be meeting with at least two of the following fighters in the near future. ‘GGG’, who reigns as the IBF and WBA (Super) titlist, was last in action this past weekend where he claimed his 22nd consecutive knockout against Dominic Wade. Let’s get to it…
Gennady Golovkin Top 5 Opponents
1. Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KO), WBC Champion
Kind of obvious, right? When Golovkin vs Canelo comes to fruition, it will no doubt be the biggest event of the year, whether that’s in 2016 or 2017. Canelo, due to his size, strength and adept powerhouse counter-punching, is surely Golovkin’s biggest threat right now. In terms of career achievements, both men are thereabouts rubbing shoulders. Golovkin’s best wins include knockouts (what else?) of Curtis Stevens, Martin Murray and David Lemieux, and Canelo’s knockouts of James Kirkland, plus decisions over Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto. Provided Canelo beats Amir Khan – and looks good doing so – on May 7th, fight fans will be hoping to see a salivating Canelo showdown fairly soon.
When Will It Happen?: Maybe late 2016. It’s a high risk fight for both combatants, but there’s a ton of fruits to be enjoyed, win or lose. It’s unthinkable to consider the notion that Canelo’s handlers at Golden Boy Promotions could shelve this one for too long, especially as it’s got major Pay Per View numbers written all over it. If Golovkin is serious about unifying the division and becoming the undisputed top dog, obviously this fight has to happen.
2. Daniel Jacobs (31-1, 28 KO), WBA (Regular) Champion
No.2 and 3 on this list are perhaps interchangeable-ish, but given Jacobs’ superior power and recent 90-second demolition of Peter Quillin, ‘The Miracle Man’ seems more appropriate. Jacobs has received some criticism over his opposition level in recent years, but there’s no questioning his top-drawer boxing skills, TNT and steely determination. Jacobs has suffered just the one career defeat, that being a 5th round TKO against Dmitry Pirog in 2010, but has successfully rebuilt, conquering both cancer and the odds to pick up a piece of the Middleweight crown. And yeah, nobody saw December’s aforementioned 1st round thrashing of Peter Quillin coming.
When Will It Happen?: It’s rare to hear Jacobs utter the words ‘Gennady Golovkin’, but if the money and timing is right, there’s a good chance we’ll see this matchup. When is hard to predict. If the fight doesn’t happen, there won’t be any skin off Golovkin’s nose, however, as his WBA ‘Super’ title trumps Jacobs’ ‘Regular’ variety. In an ideal world, that flaky title hierarchy shouldn’t really matter as this is a great matchup most of us would love to see. It would certainly come as a solid gap-filler prior to Golovkin vs Canelo.
3. Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KO), WBO Champion
Before Billy Joe Saunders bettered WBO champion Andy Lee last December, he wasn’t really considered to be a serious threat to Golovkin. And, if we’re being honest, he isn’t regarded as a ‘danger guy’ right now. But you have to respect Saunders who surprised a lot of observers when he conquered Lee that night. Saunders, who was branded a good boxer with only moderate power, proved a lot of scribes – including this one – wrong. Lee, who was generally expected to break down Saunders due to his more potent dynamite, was the one who in fact found himself in deep waters early on, getting knocked down twice en route to losing via decision.
When Will It Happen?: There would be a great deal to lose for currently undefeated Billy Joe Saunders, but there’s a good chance we could see this one happening. Like a Daniel Jacobs fight (above), it’s hard to say. Personally, I’d rather see this meeting in 2017 as it would give Saunders more time to settle in by defending his title against some less devastating challengers. As for avoiding ‘GGG’, that shouldn’t be an issue given Saunders is a proud warrior who likes to upset the odds, and, to be fair, has done so a few times during his career.
4. Chris Eubank Jr (22-1, 17 KO)
This rising Middleweight has been making plenty of headlines on the UK scene, partly due to his family name, but more so due to the fact he’s tremendous fun to watch. Heavy-handed, awkward, and definitely unconventional, Eubank is a cocky crowd-pleaser who knows how to fight and entertain. Eubank was forced to swallow a bitter pill after being out-pointed by Billy Joe Saunders in 2014, but has now successfully rebuilt, most notably stopping Dmitry Chudinov and domestic rivals Spike O’Sullivan and Nick Blackwell.
When Will It Happen?: Short of a shock announcement, no one should be realistically expecting this fight to happen until at least mid 2017, probably even later. It would seem foolish for Eubank to rush in and face a destroyer like Gennady Golovkin given he’s still fighting mostly at domestic level right now. Eubank may be a much-hyped prospect with lofty expectations, but let’s remember the keyword here: prospect. Eubank, the son of popular British favorite, Eubank Sr, is a real firecracker when he performs, so a Golovkin encounter should be fun when it does eventually materialize.
5. Tureano Johnson (19-1, 13 KO)
Technically, Hassan N’Dam is more deserving of filling this spot given he’s currently ranked No.9 while Johnson is still knocking on the door of BB’s Middleweight Top 10. The thing is, while N’Dam has faced better opposition and bagged more achievements than Johnson (who is still an upcoming contender of sorts), it’s hard to label N’Dam a more serious threat. N’Dam’s mobility and sound fundamentals make him a good fighter, sure, but he’s known nowadays for coming up short – while being knocked down countless times – against most top-level opposition.
Anyway, so why Johnson? Because he’s slippery, slick and can bang a bit. Johnson had his way with Curtis Stevens – well, before being controversially stopped – and put on a very impressive show against highly-touted Eamonn O’Kane last October. Johnson was originally set to face Golovkin last weekend, in fact, but pulled out a few weeks before due to suffering an injury during training.
When Will It Happen?: This isn’t a bout fight fans are clamoring to see exactly, but if Golovkin fails to land a bigger name (No.1 to 4), Johnson could be a likely candidate. If anything, Johnson looks like he could ask a lot more questions of Golovkin than Dominic Wade was able to.
So there it is. How would you see the above Middleweights fairing against division destroyer Gennady Golovkin? Chime in with your thoughts and predictions below.