By: Sean Crose
Gennady Golovkin will be returning to the ring this Saturday night after a nine month hiatus. It is supposed to be the beginning of a new era for the Kazakh warrior, who was last seen losing a controversial decision to Canelo Alvarez last September. For starters, the former middleweight titlist will be making his debut on the DAZN streaming service. He will also be fighting for the first time under the tutelage of trainer Jonathan Banks, after having broken with long time corner man Able Sanchez. In the leadup to GGGs return, however, one piece of the puzzle has been largely overlooked – Golovkin’s opponent, Steve Rolls.
“You can look at me as an underdog,” says the undefeated 19-0 fighter “but in my mind, I’m the best investment this side of Wall Street…GGG is going to face boxing’s version of Kawhi Leonard on June 8.” Undoubtedly most fans and analysts haven’t given the Toronto native much of a chance. Golovkin is seen as merely taking a tuneup this Saturday on his way to a potential third match with Canelo. Since last weekend’s stunning heavyweight title bout between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz, however, the boxing world has been reminded that anything can happen in the ring.
Should Rolls upset Golovkin as Ruiz upset Joshua, the future will be blindingly bright for the virtually unknown Rolls. Although he has yet to defeat anyone truly of note, the fighter can put punches together fluidly, and knows how to work the body well. His low hanging left hand may prove problematic against someone who hits with the power Golovkin does, but if Rolls shoulder roll defense is up to par, it might not be an issue. Rolls also has an ability to work on the inside well, something which may prove to be beneficial come this weekend.
The hurdle Rolls most overcome however, is not only Golovkin’s power, but the fighter’s skill. Far more than just a puncher, Golovkin has masterful balance and footwork. He’s also hard to frustrate (something which couldn’t be said for Joshua last weekend), and has a dedication to the craft which is almost frightening. “Boxing is no game,” he says. “I want a war. I have trained for a war. That’s why boxing fans enjoy the Big Drama Show. I come to fight.” Golovkin will probably be entering the ring looking to make a statement on Saturday. As Ruiz proved against Joshua, however, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the statement is made by the fighter everyone has already written off.