Golovkin leaves for father's funeral

The finishing touches are being put on a deal for middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin to defend his belt against former title challenger Andy Lee on April 26 in an HBO main event at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

However, finalizing the deal and announcing it this week took a backseat to some sad news. Golovkin learned that his father, Gennady Ivanovich Golovkin, died at age 68 on Tuesday in their native Kazakhstan after having a heart attack.

Golovkin immediately headed home for the funeral, which is Friday. K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler said he and Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, are leaving Wednesday and will also attend.

The deal is expected to get done and the fight will go on, but the delay is understandable.

Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs), who crushed Osumanu Adama in a seventh-round knockout victory on Feb. 1 in Monte Carlo, will be making his 11th title defense when he faces Ireland’s Lee (31-2, 22 KOs). Golovkin is riding a streak of 16 consecutive knockouts.

James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), the vicious junior middleweight puncher, is expected to open the telecast against an opponent to be determined. Victories by Golovkin and Kirkland could pave the way for them to face each other this summer.