Former unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin’s ring return is close to being finalized with the fight ticketed for June 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York, sources with knowledge of the plans told ESPN.
The opponent is not set yet but offers have been made to potential opponents — unbeaten Steve Rolls and former middleweight world titlist Hassan N’Dam, sources told ESPN. Golovkin plans to fight at approximately 164 pounds, four over the middleweight division limit for the nontitle bout, one of the sources said.
When Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), who turned 37 on Monday, signed a three-year, six-fight, nine-figure deal with streaming service DAZN on March 8, his return was contemplated for either June 8 or June 15. However, June 8 is now the likely date, in part so the fight will not compete with the already-announced return of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who will have the first fight of his Top Rank/ESPN deal against Tom Schwarz on June 15 in Las Vegas.
Golovkin’s fight would mark the first time in decades that the Madison Square Garden main arena would host boxing cards in back-to-back weeks. England’s Anthony Joshua is scheduled to make his United States debut in a defense of his unified heavyweight title against New Yorker Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller on June 1.
Golovkin, a Kazakhstan native living in Santa Monica, California, will be boxing for the first time since he lost a razor-close majority decision to Canelo Alvarez in September that cost Golovkin his 160-pound belts and prevented him a division record-breaking 21st consecutive title defense.
If Golovkin wins his June return and Alvarez, who also has a long-term deal with DAZN, defeats Daniel Jacobs in their world title unification bout on May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Alvarez-Golovkin III is likely to take place in September.
The most prominent name connected to Golovkin’s return bout initially was Brandon Adams (21-2, 13 KOs), 29, of Los Angeles, who won the Epix reboot of “The Contender” reality series in November with a 10-round rout of Shane Mosley Jr. in the final. However, Adams instead has accepted an offer to challenge interim middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo in a Premier Boxing Champions bout being planned for June or July.
With Adams off the market, Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs), 34, of Toronto, and Cameroon native N’Dam (37-3, 21 KOs), 35, who fights out of France, entered the picture. Rolls, who has fought at super middleweight, is unbeaten but has faced limited opposition. He is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision against journeyman KeAndrae Leatherwood in December in Toronto.
N’Dam split a pair of secondary middleweight world title fights with Japanese star Ryota Murata in 2017, winning a massively controversial decision in the first fight and then getting knocked out in the seventh round of the immediate rematch. But N’Dam is coming off a 12-round majority decision win against longtime contender and former world title challenger Martin Murray in December in Murray’s home country of England.