Gennady Golovkin will meet Matthew Macklin in the June 29 HBO main event from Foxwoods in Connecticut, and top prospects Thomas Oosthuizen and Willie Nelson have finalized undercard bouts, which will air on the network in a triple-header.
Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KO) will face fellow unbeaten super middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzales (17-0, 10 KO) in a 12-round bout. The 6'4" southpaw South African is hoping to make a strong move in the division this year, and Gonzales would be, in theory, the first step toward a potential world title shot by the end of 2013.
"Tommy is not only one of the best 168-pound fighters in the division, but, in my eyes, one of the top prospects pound-for-pound in the entire world," said co-promoter Lou DiBella. "He is taking on another undefeated, highly regarded fighter in Gonzales, and the winner of the bout truly emerges as not only a force in the 168-pound division, but as a potential star."
Oosthuizen is delighted to be making his HBO debut. "I am extremely excited about this opportunity. There is no bigger stage than fighting on HBO. This is what I have dreamt about since I was a young child. I respect Gonzales as a fighter. He had a great amateur pedigree and he has yet to lose as a professional, but he never faced a fighter like me, and come June 29th, he is going to find that out very quickly."
Gonzales, 28, is a Virgil Hunter-trained prospect who has been less than stellar in TV wins over Ossie Duran and most recently Don Mouton. Gonzales barely won either fight, and frankly, hasn't appeared to be a true top prospect so much as a guy who was once thought to be on that level. There's been a sort of plateauing of his ability, it appears, at the 8-round mark of his career. He's never gone beyond that, and will be the clear underdog here. Oosthuizen is considered by many a back-end top 10 guy at super middle already.
"I want to thank my team and HBO for this great opportunity," said Gonzales. "Fighting on HBO has always been one of my dreams. Winning this fight will put me in a great position for a world championship and I look forward to putting on a great performance on June 29th."
Nelson, another abnormally tall guy for his weight class, standing 6'3" in the 154-pound ranks, will take on Luciano Cuello. Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KO) once looked like a prospect whose bubble had been burst, when he lost a ShoBox bout to Vincent Arroyo in April 2011, but the 26-year-old Clevelander has made great strides since moving up to junior middleweight, beating Yudel Jhonson and John Jackson, and most recently clobbering Michael Medina in one round.
Trained by Jack Loew, Nelson's 81-inch reach is even bigger than that of Oosthuizen, who comes in at 78 inches. He's been turning a few heads, and he and his team have been talking big fight. For now, this will do.
"Fighting a guy like Cuello on HBO will give me a chance to make a big splash in the junior middleweight division," Nelson said. "He's a high quality fighter whose only two losses have been to world champions. I want to beat him in a better fashion than they did to prove that I belong at the top of the 154-pound division. I need to win and win impressively. My ultimate goal is to become world champion and this fight puts me in line for that."
The world champions Nelson is speaking of are none other than Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Canelo Alvarez. Chavez struggled past Cuello back in 2009, but young Alvarez demolished the Argentinean a year later. Cuello (32-2, 16 KO) has no real quality wins, but a lot of the word out there is that Nelson isn't exactly high on anyone's wish list right now, which makes plenty of sense given his size and development. Wins in fights like this in front of an HBO audience will make him a more attractive option, one would figure.
Cuello, 29, is as appreciative of the opportunity as anyone. "I am very excited about this opportunity to fight Willie Nelson on HBO and to have the chance to showcase my skills in the USA," said Cuello. "I am confident that we will achieve a major victory on June 29th. I would like to thank my manager Pedro Garcia and my advisor Elvis Grant Phillips for putting this fight together and of course my new promoter Lou DiBella and HBO."