Unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin admitted that he had never heard of Dominic Wade until a few weeks ago, when his name came up as his probable challenger. Golovkin should be forgiven because he is not the only one.
Wade, although a standout amateur and undefeated as a professional, is largely unknown except to the most ardent boxing junkies, who may have caught one of his few relatively low-profile televised fights.
It's safe to say, however, that, win or lose, a lot more people will soon know about Wade. The mandatory challenger will face GGG for his cadre of 160-pound title belts on April 23 (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
In the strong co-feature, pound-for-pound king Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez (44-0, 38 KOs), 28, of Nicaragua, will defend the flyweight world title for the fourth time when he meets 30-year-old Puerto Rican contender and 2008 Olympian McWilliams Arroyo (16-2, 14 KOs).
"No nerves. I'm cool. I'm ready. I think (Golovkin) can fight. He's a good fighter, but I think he's basic as well. (His style is) straight up and down. It's not a style I haven't seen before." Dominic Wade
A two-city media tour to promote the card kicked off in Los Angeles on Tuesday with Wade, who is from Washington, D.C., missing the news conference because an ice storm in the region fouled up flight schedules. But Wade was on hand for Thursday's promotional stop at Madison Square Garden in New York, where he drew compliments for being the rare fighter to embrace fighting Golovkin, one of boxing's best fighters and most feared punchers.
"A lot of fighters when they're asked if they want to fight Gennady Golovkin (say), 'We'll fight him anytime, no problem -- except it can't be Saturdays and it can't be on HBO,'" HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson said. "So, I really want to commend Team Wade for stepping up [to] the challenge for fighting a fight so many have turned down over the years.
"When I first met Dominic Wade, way back when, in Washington, D.C., he had his arm in a sling and he was recovering from something and his trainer at the time said to me, 'One day he'll be fighting on HBO' and here we are. He's an undefeated challenger fighting for a world title on HBO."
The chance to challenge GGG came unexpectedly. Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs), 33, who is from Kazakhstan and lives in Los Angeles, was going to either fight mandatory challenger Tureano Johnson or unify belts with England's Billy Joe Saunders. K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler was working on both fights. Then Johnson had to drop out of the talks because of a shoulder injury. Around the same time, Saunders, who had been offered a seven-figure payday -- by far the largest of his career -- turned down the fight and then made himself look silly by calling out Golovkin only after the fight with Wade was finalized.
Saunders may have avoided the fight, but Wade really wanted it, which impressed Golovkin, who could be headed to a September mega fight with middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) with a win and an Alvarez victory against Amir Khan on May 7.
"I respect Dominic Wade," Golovkin said. "He's undefeated mandatory challenger. It's very serious. I don't know who will win. I'm not God. This is boxing."
Wade may not be a big talker, but he comes off as highly confident.
"There was no hesitation at all from the Wade side. I have to give the Wade side a lot of credit," Loeffler said. "It's hard to put fights together but there was no hesitation at all."
Wade said the notion of passing up the chance to fight Golovkin never crossed his mind.
"April 23 is going to be a big day for me, a life changing event," Wade said. "I'm prepared. I'm ready. I'm just coming there to do what I have to do. I'm definitely hungry. I definitely want the titles. When my manager called me and told me about the fight I was excited. I could have run 30 miles right there. It's gonna be a show. I ain't scared."
Jerry Vines, Wade's manager, said when he called Wade to tell him about the fight he immediately said that he wanted it and had only one question -- and it wasn't about how much money he would make.
"I called him up and asked him if he wanted the fight and he said, 'Hell, yeah! Is it for his titles?'" Vine said. "We made this fight in a week, which means everyone was committed."
Wade (18-0, 12 KOs), 25, who has never faced a top contender, nonetheless sounded unfazed by Golovkin's huge reputation and his gaudy statistics that include a streak of 21 consecutive knockouts and 15 consecutive title defenses, second-most in middleweight history.
"No nerves. I'm cool. I'm ready," Wade said. "I think (Golovkin) can fight. He's a good fighter, but I think he's basic as well. (His style is) straight up and down. It's not a style I haven't seen before. He puts his shoes on the same way I do. He's just a person like I am."
OK, but what about his vaunted two-handed punching power?
"He has a little power," Wade said. "I don't think it's unbelievable or he's untouchable. Most of the people he's fighting are probably scared of him and went with the whole, 'He hits so hard type thing.' But I was excited (to get the fight). I took it and I ran with it.
"A lot of guys don't really have that heart (to fight him) and question themselves. (Saunders) didn't accept the fight. I can't believe it. I've got the best of both worlds -- I box, I can bang. I got power and speed with my power. Every one of my fights has prepared me for this. (Winning) would mean the world to me. I'm really excited."
Jay Stancil, Wade's trainer, said this is what Wade has worked his entire career for and won't let the intense spotlight overpower him.
"Dominic is working very hard. Mentally, he is very prepared. He is very hungry," Stancil said. "We'll be prepared for the moment. I think we'll pull the upset and he'll shock the world."