Golovkin only thinking of Rolls in comeback fight

New York (AFP) –


Former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin insists he will only be thinking about opponent Steve Rolls on Saturday as he marks his return to the ring with a possible third fight against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez looming on the horizon.

A week after Andy Ruiz Jr. produced a sensational knockout victory over heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, the eyes of the boxing world will once again turn to Madison Square Garden for Golovkin's comeback.

The 37-year-old Kazakh (38-1-1) has not fought since suffering the first defeat of his career, a majority decision loss to Alvarez in their second bout in Las Vegas last September.

Since then, Golovkin has split with long-time trainer Abel Sanchez and signed a lucrative six-fight deal with US streaming company DAZN which may well smooth the way to a third bout with Alvarez, another DAZN fighter.

Golovkin, however, is adamant that he is looking no further than the 35-year-old Rolls, who is unbeaten in 18 fights since starting his career relatively late in 2011.

"I respect Steve because he's a professional athlete and a professional boxer," Golovkin said when asked about Rolls' underdog status.

"This is not a game for me and for him. And I believe this is biggest chance for him. This is boxing. Anything is possible."

Rolls though has taken encouragement from Ruiz's stunner against Joshua.

"I was already looking to shock the world and do what Ruiz did before the Ruiz situation actually happened," he said.

"But you know what? It made me understand and not just me, everybody I feel, that when you got two guys in the ring, anything can happen."

Golovkin's new trainer, Johnathon Banks, said Joshua's defeat to Ruiz should serve as a cautionary tale.

"For me, preparing for Steve Rolls is we're preparing for a world title fight, because we expect him to bring his best, because this is his life chance," Banks said.

"So with this big stage, Rolls is right now the most dangerous guy in New York City. He has everything to gain and nothing to lose."

Banks, a protege of famed trainer Emmanuel Steward, who died in 2012, meanwhile said he had been impressed by Golovkin's attitude since taking over as trainer.

"My perception of GGG was still very athletic, very hungry, very -- he just have like a young spirit about him," Banks said.

"He loves being in the gym, happy about being in the gym, happy about working out, which, for me, to look at him at this level and still have that hunger, is awesome."

Rolls meanwhile has rejected suggestions that a lack of experience and relatively late start to his professional career may leave him out of his depth against an accomplished ring general like Golovkin.

"It's like having a classic car, but it has low mileage," he said. "You can have a new car and drive the crap out of it, and it's done.

"I haven't taken any punishment. I'm actually in my prime now."