By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Gennady Golovkin admitted Monday that he didn’t know anything about Steve Rolls when his team began searching for his next opponent.
Brandon Adams, Hassan N’Dam, Maciej Sulecki and Kamil Szermeta all were considered before Golovkin eventually decided to fight Rolls on June 8 at Madison Square Garden. Golovkin will fight for the first time June 8 since suffering the first defeat of his career – a debatable majority decision to rival Canelo Alvarez in their middleweight championship rematch September 15 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Golovkin and Tom Loeffler, his promotional representative, explained Monday before a press conference at Madison Square Garden how they arrived at choosing Toronto’s Rolls, an unbeaten but unknown opponent.
“I’ll tell you, honestly, I didn’t know a lot about him,” Golovkin said through a translator. “But because DAZN is trying to establish themselves in Canada and Steve’s from Canada, I figured that this would be a good starting point for us.”
The 37-year-old Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) was expected to fight a safe opponent once he signed a six-fight contract with DAZN because a lucrative third bout against Alvarez hangs in the balance. If Golovkin beats Rolls and Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs) gets past Daniel Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) on May 4 in Las Vegas, Golovkin and Alvarez are expected to fight again later this year.
This Golovkin fight was offered to Los Angeles’ Adams (21-2, 13 KOs), who won the fifth season of “The Contender” late last year. Adams instead accepted a more profitable fight against WBC interim middleweight champ Jermall Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs), which will take place later in June in Charlo’s hometown of Houston.
Golovkin passed on France’s N’Dam (37-3, 21 KOs) in favor of the 35-year-old Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs). Poland’s Szermeta (19-0, 4 KOs) didn’t reciprocate interest, according to Loeffler.
“I can shed some more light on the opponent process,” Loeffler said. “There were a lot of other names that were being considered. N’Dam was one of them. Sulecki we heard was available. But then, when I contacted his promoter directly, he wasn’t available for June 8th, only the end of June. The undefeated Polish guy, Szermeta, we offered him the fight last May. Then we offered [it to] him this time and he wasn’t interested. [Demetrius] Andrade has his mandatory obligation. So, for this fight here, for this homecoming to New York and to The Garden – and like Gennady said, out of the opponents being considered, DAZN liked that Rolls is from Canada and they can publicize that to their subscribers up there in Canada.”
Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs), the WBO middleweight champion, might fight Poland’s Sulecki (28-1, 11 KOs) on June 22 or June 29 in Providence, Rhode Island, Andrade’s hometown. Sulecki is not the mandatory challenger for Andrade’s title, a championship he won six months ago.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.