Rick Reeno reports at BoxingScene.com that Gabriel Rosado and Fernando Guerrero have emerged as the leading candidates to face Gennady Golovkin on January 19 on HBO, with Rosado having the inside track at the moment.
Golovkin (24-0, 21 KO) will be in an undercard bout on the show, with Orlando Salido headlining against Mikey Garcia. The 30-year-old Kazakh fighter impressed those who tuned in to see him on September 1, when he demolished Grzegorz Proksa on HBO, but it was a very low TV rating, as the show wasn't promoted much and was headlined by a pair of good, exciting fighters, who were also unknown to U.S. viewers.
Golovkin's profile did get a boost from that show, but there's still a lot of work to be done as far as making him an actual star or attraction. The good news for him is that fighters who aren't well-known get shots all the time in the middleweight division. Sergio Martinez has recently faced the likes of Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker, and Matthew Macklin, while Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has been given HBO dates with Sebastian Zbik, Peter Manfredo Jr, Marco Antonio Rubio, and Andy Lee. The actual biggest star of all those fighters (not counting Martinez and Chavez Jr, obviously) is probably Manfredo, who has a loyal following in the northeast.
But the trouble for Golovkin is that he's also really good, and presents a serious challenge for anyone at 160. So in the real world, where "earned" is a case-by-case thing in boxing, Golovkin is going to have to earn it more than those guys did, because he's a scarier proposition. The same can be said for Martin Murray, who is being targeted by Martinez for April. He's unknown in the States, but he's not as tough a matchup as Golovkin would be, or at least that's the perception, and perception is a big deal.
Let me put it this way: A shutdown cornerback doesn't have to really be as great as his hype, but if opposing quarterbacks think he is, then they're not going to throw his way much. If other fighters or other promoters view Golovkin as a huge threat, they're going to be reluctant to fight him if he doesn't bring much more than his credibility to the table.
But anyway, before I venture too far off-topic here, Golovkin is looking at these two guys. Rosado (21-5, 13 KO) is a good fighter, but he's also a junior middleweight by trade, and also has a spot as the IBF's No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger for Cornelius Bundrage's title belt in that division. Bundrage recently signed with Golden Boy, so if they're looking to keep K9 away from Rosado, maybe Gabe is best off fighting Golovkin instead. It's about as big a money fight as he's going to get, and as big an opportunity. He's a guy without a shiny record, but he's gotten quite good by improving in the ring via tough fights along the way.
Guerrero (25-1, 19 KO) actually beat Rosado back in 2009 (it was a tougher challenge than most expected at the time, which was a sign of things to come for Gabe). He's with Al Haymon and is being rebuilt under the guidance of trainer Virgil Hunter, so it seems pretty sudden to throw him to the wolves against Golovkin. I'm not saying Guerrero doesn't have talent, but he was sparked out badly last year by Grady Brewer, and though you might chalk that up to an ill-advised attempt to move down to 154, Golovkin seems all wrong for Guerrero, at least to me, especially right now. If they send Guerrero in against Golovkin, I don't want to say someone would be giving up and sending him into a sink-or-swim fight, but it would come off that way at least a little bit, I think.
Either fight would guarantee action, but I suspect few would pick Rosado or Guerrero to actually pull the upset. It would be designed to build Golovkin's name a little more. But if it's Rosado, I can say I would expect a true balls-out effort from a very determined fighter who would come to win. Guerrero I'm a bit less sure about, if I'm being honest. That idea just seems a bit sudden to me.