<
>

Golovkin wants the best; Froch next?

There might be nothing more avoided in boxing than the acquisition of the title "boxing's most avoided fighter."

It might not be rain on your wedding day, but it's still plenty ironic. Don't you think?

Unbeaten middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin has been wrestling with this very dilemma ever since exploding onto the radars of American boxing fans barely more than a year ago.

Although fans have clearly taken to his "Jekyll and Hyde" persona -- grinning choir boy struggling endearingly to command a new language outside the ring, void-of-emotion assassin inside of it -- that additional bit of irony hasn't turned Golovkin into a desired opponent.

He is simply too dangerous for his own good, a Kazakh crusher who lacks the built-in fan base to help create enough dollars to make it worth it for a big-name fighter to test himself against Golovkin's ferocious union of talents.

But Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs), for his part, continues in his dogged effort to extinguish the "most avoided" label, attacking it with the same cold-blooded intensity that resulted in knockout victories in each his past 14 bouts.

If the best thing an avoided fighter can do is to stay busy while looking spectacular in doing it, Golovkin has overwhelmingly succeeded. His title defense against Curtis Stevens on Saturday (HBO, 10 p.m. ET) will be his fourth fight of 2013 and his fifth since making his American debut 14 months ago.

Saturday's bout is essentially a stay-busy fight wrapped in a flashy package, thanks to the backdrop of New York's Madison Square Garden Theater -- although there is the outside threat of Stevens' top-end power. Golovkin respects the challenge, calling it "a dangerous fight for us -- for him and for me."

But he and his team are also keenly aware of just how sublimely talented he is. Golovkin knows the importance of getting through this test unscathed, yet before and since the fight with Stevens was made, he has routinely spoken of his willingness to fight anyone, at any time, with a flexibility regarding weight that's just about unprecedented at the highest levels.

What that had meant, previously, was a three-division window between 154 and 168 pounds that was open to willing opponents. But in recent months, Team Golovkin has boldly opened that window wider, now inviting 175-pounders to take their best shot.

Golovkin's confidence and commitment toward capitalizing on the relatively small remainder of his absolute prime -- he's already 31 -- is admirable. But you also have to wonder if the offer to potentially move up two weight classes to contend with a bevy of heavy hitters at light heavyweight is a bit too ambitious, if not excessive.

On the one hand, Golovkin has yet to be knocked down -- or even hurt -- in nearly 400 amateur and professional fights and he just might possess the kind of transcendent power that knows no divisional boundaries. Still, it's important to remember that he's not exactly a big middleweight to begin with.

And although politics and intelligent matchmaking probably will prevent him from luring cash cows Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez and even Miguel Cotto into marquee fights at 154 pounds, Golovkin might not be in that bad of a spot, all things considered, if he focuses on what's available to him between 160 and 168 pounds.

Golovkin is on the right side of the firing line in terms of promotional politics, with the majority of big names in and around his division being HBO-friendly. In fact, the two most realistic options for him who could offer either pay-per-view buys (Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.) or critical respect on a pound-for-pound level (Andre Ward) have both expressed at least some level of interest in fighting him.

But one opponent could not only provide a gateway fight to launch Golovkin's brand skyward while offering him the kind of test to quiet his small legion of doubters, a foe who makes more sense than all the others: super middleweight titlist Carl Froch of England.

Froch, a mainstay on most P4P lists, is a marketable opponent with an exciting style that would nicely complement Golovkin's in a potential high-level slugfest. He also appears interested in the idea, provided he is unable to land a fight with Chavez.

"[Froch] is a big guy, a strong guy and a good fighter with good offense," Golovkin said. "That fight is important and is a great fight for everybody -- fans, fighters, HBO; a good deal for everybody. I want the big fight."

But none of those fights Golovkin seeks, including a potential showdown with injured middleweight king Sergio Martinez, will be possible unless GGG takes care of business against Stevens first. If he does what's expected of him, Golovkin says, he'll return as quickly as January to continue doing what he does best: staying busy, looking spectacular and trying like heck to lure the biggest and most dangerous names to face him.

"Right now is my time," Golovkin said. "I want next year to fight the same schedule of four to five fights. I feel great. I am here. I am ready. This [schedule] is very easy for me."