Gennadiy Golovkin begins new chapter of boxing career at Madison Square Garden

Gennadiy Golovkin participates in an open workout outside Madison Square Garden on Monday.
Gennadiy Golovkin participates in an open workout outside Madison Square Garden on Monday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Much has changed since the man they call "GGG" left the ring at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2017. His record is no longer unblemished. He’s got a new trainer. His fights now are exclusively streamed on DAZN.

And the world finally can start spelling Gennadiy Golovkin correctly. For years as one of the most prominent names in boxing, everyone had been neglecting the "I" near the end of his first name.

"I just learned about this recently," Golovkin told amNewYork through a Russian translator on Monday. "I never [paid attention] to how people spell my name, how people pronounce my name."

Proper spelling in the English alphabet — not his first language — took a backseat to perfecting his craft in the ring. Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), who will headline the main stage at the Garden for the fourth time since 2014 when he faces unbeaten Steve Rolls on Saturday, has been too busy trying to stake his claim as the top middleweight in the sport. 

Since his last bout in Manhattan, Golovkin finally got the chance to stand toe to toe with Canelo Alvarez and vie for the middleweight crown. Their September 2017 clash ended in a highly controversial draw when the majority of fans and media members believed the native of Kazakhstan had done enough to edge his Mexican counterpart on the score cards. A rematch was put together one year later, this time with Alvarez winning a close decision. For his part, GGG believes he won both contests.

In the wake of his first career defeat, GGG still negotiated a three-year, six-fight deal with DAZN — also the new home of rival Alvarez — that is worth about $100 million. He also parted ways with longtime trainer Abel Sanchez (who has cited through media reports a dispute over money) six weeks ago.

The 37-year-old quickly tabbed Johnathon Banks, the former trainer of retired heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, to take over as his lead trainer. He’s not sweating the move despite the brief window to train together.

"It’s two different schools, two different generations, but the objective is the same," Golovkin said of the switch.

Saturday’s opponent Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) is far from a household name, but Golovkin made it clear he is not looking past this weekend to a potential trilogy fight with Alvarez later this year. He’s wary of the "hungry’ Canadian, who has fought predominantly in his home country to this point.

Entering his 2017 unanimous decision victory in New York City over Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs, Golovkin scored KOs in his previous 22 fights. But even with only one knockout in his last four bouts — over unheralded Vanes Martirosyan sandwiched between the Alvarez fights — he promises he won’t be headhunting against Rolls. Still, GGG wouldn’t mind capitalizing on an opening.

"If he gives me this opportunity, I’d be happy to knock him out," Golovkin said.