Late last week Dan Rafael of ESPN dropped a bomb of a statement on me when I asked him in his weekly chat if Triple G (36-0 33 KOs) would be fighting in Kazakhstan this summer as had been rumored. Not only did Rafael confirm as much, but he went a step further and said it would be against the WBO champion of England, Billy Joe Saunders.
Saunders (24-0 12 KOs) has the lone belt that eludes Golovkin’s collection which now stands at 3 (WBA, WBC, IBF). Since winning the title in 2015 against Andy Lee, Saunders has only defended it one time. He turned down an offer last Spring to face Triple G but it seems his number has finally been met.
Saunders had been ordered by the WBO to face number one rated Avtandil Khurtsidze but Khurtsidze agreed recently to accept step-aside money and let Saunders defend against somone else. Ryota Murata who is co-promoter by Teiken and Top Rank is the number 2 contender rated by the WBO and was widely rumored to be angling for a championship fight himself. The money needed to both appease Khurtsidze and Saunders though seems more likely to be coming from the GGG camp as his country’s government has a vested interest in securing the rights to such a deal.
Astana, Kazakhstan will be hosting the 2017 world expo with over 100 counties being represented to discuss the “future of energy.” I think we can all agree that a Triple G fight stokes a bit of energy in itself. With a futuristic city being built with solar panels, solar windows, wind turbines, and a smart grid, to support hotels, office buildings and auditoriums, Kazakhstan is showing off its best side to the world and their prized son, the boogeyman of the middleweight division, Gennady Golovkin, would only punctuate their showcase.
Astana sits only 3hrs drive away from Golovkin’s hometown of Karaganda and boasts a newer arena with a capacity of over 30,000 (even more if you were to add seats on the ground level, say around a boxing ring) which houses the Kazakh national soccer team. Astana only recently became the capital of the country in 1997 and has since become a bit of a futuristic wonder with its unique architectural styles with signature designs from some of the world’s finest architects. With winter temps hitting below -40 and the summer boasting comfortable 80 degree days, the capitol really is a wonder in its own right and yet remains a secret to much of the world.
Hosting a world expo and one of the pound for pound best boxer’s can help change that. Here’s hoping the rumors are true. I just may take the three flights necessary to bare witness to such an event.