You can cross former middleweight titlist Daniel Geale off the list of potential opponents for Gennady Golovkin’s April 26 HBO fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
You can also cross off James Kirkland, another of the three leading candidates.
You know what that means? That means GGG likely will face former title challenger Andy Lee.
“We're close. We’re talking, and Andy wants the fight,” Lou DiBella, Lee’s promoter, told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “Andy believes he can win, and this is a fight that he wants.”
Geale (29-2, 15 KOs) is scheduled to face Australian countryman Garth Wood on Feb. 19 in Geale’s first bout since losing his belt to Darren Barker in a great fight in August in Atlantic City, N.J., but he was viewed as the leading candidate to try to slow down the Golovkin train.
But he’s now out of the picture. Geale and promoter Gary Shaw both said that the reason is because if he fights Golovkin on April 26 -- the firm date for Golovkin’s next fight, mainly because that is when the MSG Theater is available -- the bout would not be televised in Australia, where most fights of consequence are on Main Event PPV. On April 26, Main Event PPV is already slated to air a UFC pay-per-view.
With no Australian television revenue, that would leave Geale without an important piece of his overall revenue for a fight with Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs), who is coming off last week’s bruising seventh-round knockout of Osumanu Adama in Monte Carlo.
“We weren't ducking him," Geale told Fox Sports Australia. “If they had given us a week later or a week before, it would have been perfect. But they wouldn't budge on the date and I want the people of Australia to be able to see a fight like that. Golovkin has built his name up so well; he's stopped pretty much everybody he's been in there with. I don't want to go over there [to the U.S.] and do something great and nobody see it."
Shaw told ESPN.com, “I agree with Geale. He wants his fights to be shown in Australia. Hope he gets the next fight with enough time to secure a TV network. Geale has never been afraid to fight GGG and continues to believe that he has a chance.”
Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), the vicious junior middleweight puncher who would have to move up in weight for the fight, was also in the running. In fact, some at HBO preferred him over Geale as GGG’s opponent.
But according to sources involved in the talks, Kirkland’s camp has rejected the fight. Instead, there’s a good chance that Kirkland, of Austin, Texas, will wind up on the April 26 HBO undercard with the understanding that if Kirkland and Golovkin both win they would meet in the summer.
That left Ireland’s Lee (31-2, 22 KOs), HBO’s third choice but the one guy willing to take the fight and the guy who probably can significantly boost ticket sales. New York’s Irish fight fans are very loyal to their fighters.
Lee has won three low-level fights in a row since being destroyed in a seventh-round knockout loss to then-middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2012.
I don’t think Lee stands much of a chance against Golovkin, but I didn’t think Geale or Kirkland did either.