Former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin signed a massive three-year, six-fight deal with global sports streaming service DAZN in March in what most believe will lead to Golovkin getting a third fight against Canelo Alvarez in September followed by other high-profile, lucrative middleweight bouts.
But first, Golovkin is scheduled to face unknown Canadian middleweight Steve Rolls, 35, in what appears to be a massive mismatch intended only to showcase Golovkin, 37, to his new DAZN-subscribing fanbase.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Golovkin is a huge favorite on the early boxing betting market at -3500 (1/35) to hand Rolls, +1000 (10/1), the first loss of his professional career. The bout will take place June 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York at a catchweight of 164 pounds.
Golovkin Needs Win to Secure Bigger Fights
Golovkin was considered the best middleweight in the world until he was narrowly defeated by Alvarez in September 2018. It was the rematch of their epic draw that took place one year prior. Alvarez had long been fighting in the junior middleweight division (at least closer to it than middleweight as many of his fights were contested at 155-pound catchweights) while Golovkin had held some form of the middleweight championship for the majority of the decade.
While many thought Golovkin deserved to win a decision in the first fight, Alvarez improved greatly for the second and earned the win with harder, more precise power punches. Golovkin hasn’t been in the ring since, while Alvarez moved up to 168 pounds to stop secondary titleholder Rocky Fielding in three rounds just three months later.
Now, Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 knockouts) hopes to get back in the win column against Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) in a fight that early oddsmakers say Golvikin has an implied probability of over 97% to win.
Why Golovkin-Rolls Makes Sense
Golovkin-Rolls makes sense from a promotional standpoint because it gets Golovkin back in the ring against a live opponent while minimizing the risks inherent to all prizefighters. While unbeaten, Rolls has never competed at the world level and is probably not going to be all that competitive against Golovkin.
That’s important because DAZN has many top middleweight stars already on its roster and getting those fighters in the ring against each other will help bolster DAZN’s lineup of upcoming fights. Alvarez faces Daniel Jacobs on May 4 in a huge middleweight unification battle, and the winner of that fight would be the logical choice to face Golovkin later this year.
Another possible next opponent for Golovkin would be WBO titleholder Demetrius Andrade, an undefeated American who is clearly being groomed by promoter Eddie Hearn for big fights against the top middleweight stars. Andrade is a talented southpaw who hasn’t really faced any of the other top 160-pound fighters yet and probably won’t until he gets either Alvarez, Golovkin or Jacobs in the ring.
Who is Steve Rolls?
Rolls is a regional-level fighter who most people in boxing had never heard of before he was announced as an opponent for Golovkin. Boxing is full of these types. In fact, one could argue that the survival of boxing as a global sport depends on these types of professionals who ply their trade on the local scene in hopes of landing big fights against notable opponents.
According to The Star’s Morgan Campbell, Rolls is a former amateur national champion who has built his glossy professional record the hard way. Rolls is one of Toronto’s top local boxers who has spent his career fighting mainly in Quebec, Nova Scotia and the U.S. Moreover, Rolls has worked as a sparring partner with established middleweight stars such as former WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders.
Rolls is promoted by Lou DiBella, a New York-based promoter whose clout probably got his fighter in the running as Golovkin’s next opponent. Now that Rolls has his long-awaited chance at fame, it will be up to him to make good on the opportunity.