Gennady Golovkin has built up a lot of buzz among boxing's diehard audience, and with good reason. The 30-year-old Kazakh is a surgeon in the ring, powerful and accurate, makes for action -- even if it's all going one way -- and generally delivers beatings.
He ticks almost all the boxes that can make a star fighter in the sport. But his level of opposition has become even more highly questionable, as he'll likely defend the WBA middleweight title against Nobuhiro Ishida on March 30 in Monte Carlo.
Golovkin (25-0, 22 KO) is hungry for a challenge, he says, but those challenges just haven't come yet. Dmitry Pirog was a good opponent, but that fell through last year, and Golovkin instead faced Grzegorz Proksa, dominating in his HBO debut. Golovkin returned to HBO a couple of weeks ago, wiping out a brave but overmatched Gabriel Rosado.
Ishida (24-8-2, 9 KO) frankly has no business in this fight. He's a decent fighter, but he's convincingly lost his last two to Paul Williams and Pirog, and is still living off of his one-round shocker win over James Kirkland from 2011. He's lost three of five, and the other win was against some dude making his pro debut.
Ishida's team are talking up their fighter, but everyone knows what to expect, and it's incredibly unlikely we see anything stunning this time. Golovkin isn't Kirkland.
One way or another, someone's got to get this guy into a serious fight. No offense to Rosado, Proksa, or Ishida, but Golovkin is beyond this level, and we all know it. If that means Tom Loeffler and K2 have to work extremely hard to force something, if that means Golovkin has to take a short money risk, if that means HBO has to do whatever they can to make something happen, there's just no more great point to Golovkin beating up guys on this level.
It might be unfair to blame Golovkin at all -- it's understandable that no one is dying to fight this guy. But it would be a shame to see Golovkin not get a chance to make some real waves. Even considering he's no mainstream name by any stretch of the imagination, it's not often that fighters capture the imaginations of the audience the way Golovkin recently has. People are dreaming on this guy's ability; he needs the chance to prove what we didn't already know three years ago.