Timing is everything.
A month after Manny Pacquiao smacked his face on the MGM Grand boxing ring canvas, the sport’s next big thing is preparing for his breakthrough performance.
Unbeaten Gennady Golovkin, 30, of Kazakhstan is a polite assassin, a heavy-handed world middleweight champion who is seeking his 22nd knockout in his 25th pro fight Jan. 19, when he defends his World Boxing Assn. belt against Gabriel Rosado (21-5, 13 KOs) at New York’s Madison Square Garden Theatre.
The night's main event is world featherweight champion Orlando Salido's World Boxing Organization defense versus top-ranked, unbeaten challenger Mikey Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs) of Oxnard.
Golovkin is training for his HBO-televised bout in Big Bear under veteran Southland cornerman Abel Sanchez.
“I’ve been in this game a long time, and I’ve never had anyone hurt me like this guy with his punches to the ribs,” Sanchez said.
“If a guy wants to stand in front of him and fight … no one hits like that. It’ll be a short fight, and it’ll be entertaining.”
Rosado, moving up from super-welterweight, is expected to give that kind of show. He’s a willing brawler who has such a stubborn streak, he told Golovkin’s representatives not to worry about a catchweight limit of 158 pounds for the bout – that 160 will be fine.
Golovkin appeared at a Los Angeles restaurant Tuesday to discuss his potential, among other things.
When asked about his opportunity to give fight fans another dynamic puncher to follow so soon after Pacquiao’s fall from grace in his sixth-round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8, Golovkin said, “Yes, I feel great, why not?”
Sanchez was more effusive.
“I’ve been saying for awhile boxing is missing the next big fighter,” Sanchez said. “People go to the races to watch a crash. They want the bull to get the fighter in a bullfight. And they go to the fights looking for a knockout.
“I’ve always trained my guy to hurt somebody, to be faster, stronger.”
Golovkin’s team plans to have him fight five times this year, including a late March date in Europe and the biggest fight possible in June.
Golovkin said he is willing to fight anyone weighing from 154 to 168 pounds, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Sergio Martinez and Andre Ward.
The problem is, he’s flying below the publicity radar, and those more high-profile opponents will play that fact up in declining to fight him.
“If he doesn’t look good in this Rosado fight, maybe they’ll be interested in him, but when he blows him out, I think it’ll be more of the same,” Sanchez said. “Still, being dramatic, getting that big knockout, is what’s important to him. The fight fans will see how good he is and beg for these bigger fights to happen.”