This Sunday on Main Event one of the most exciting boxers in the world, WBA and IBO Middleweight World Champion Gennady Golovkin, faces his biggest test yet against respected British brawler Matthew Macklin.
Main Event boxing host BEN DAMON caught up with Australia's IBF Middleweight World Champion DANIEL GEALE for an expert preview of the fight, and to look ahead to Geale’s own upcoming title defence.
BEN DAMON - Daniel Geale, let’s get your thoughts on the big middleweight bout this Sunday between rising star Gennady Golovkin and tough Brit Matthew Macklin. They're both world class boxers, and your perspective is of particular significance because these are two men who you have been linked to opposing at various times recently.
DANIEL GEALE - I've been very close to fighting both of them at different times, particularly Macklin very recently. These are two guys at the very top level and it makes for a very interesting fight. They have very different styles to each other and pose threats in very different ways. I'll be watching the fight closely because obviously I'm keen to keep track of both of them and I think a lot will be learned, especially about Golovkin, on Sunday.
BD - How close did you come to signing to fight Macklin earlier this year?
DG - I was ready to sign. To be honest I thought it was a done deal but then he took this fight and I ended up with my next fight so it wasn't to be.
BD - What do you make of Macklin as a boxer?
DG - He's a strong puncher, first of all. He probably doesn't have the most amazing technical boxing skills but he is tough and he is a real 'in your face' brawler. You have to be careful with guys like that. When I was preparing in my mind to fight him I was thinking of facing a real tough, willing guy.
BD - Matthew Macklin is one of the big three British middleweights along with Martin Murray and, the man you will fight in Atlantic City in August, Darren Barker. How do you rank the three of them?
DG - They're all very different styles and all good talents. From a 'boxing brain' point of view though I think Darren Barker is on top of the three. He is a real thinker. He is a smart fighter who adapts and uses his skills. That makes him a difficult opponent for anyone. I'd put him on top of the three, then you've got Murray and Macklin who are both tough fighters who keep coming at you. Murray has more skill than Macklin though so I'd have him ahead. So I've got them ranked Barker first, Murray second and Macklin third, at the moment.
BD - There's been plenty of talk about you perhaps fighting Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight unification bout. Some of the American media have painted him as a man that everyone in the division, including you, wants to avoid - will you dodge him?
DG - Not at all! Especially at this stage. He hasn't really been tested yet. He's never been pushed. That's what makes this fight with Macklin so interesting because Macklin should be able to withstand the early bombs from Golovkin and then we'll see what happens. Golovkin's never been twelve rounds. I've been there plenty of times. I know what it's like in round 10, round 11 and round 12, when you're digging deep to work hard. I'm right at home late in fights, but we don't know how Golovkin handles that yet. I'm not dodging him, or anyone, and if the deal is right we'll fight.
BD - A lot of people would not realise that you have actually fought Golovkin before, as an amateur. Tell me about that fight.
DG - It was at the East Asian Games in Japan and he beat me on points. To be honest I fought like crap. I think he got me by 9 points or so, so it was just a fight to forget for me. That fight wouldn't carry any weight at all if we fought as professionals - I can hardly even remember it. At that tournament the Kazakhstan fighters all had good footwork, and good power and the thing I really noticed at the time was that they really used the distance well in their fights. That's something that I've learnt over the years. A hell of a lot has changed since we met as amateurs.
BD - How do you think Golovkin has improved since then? He's certainly created a massive buzz in the States without really beating any big 'names'. In your opinion, is he the real deal?
DG - He definitely has potential but he has to do a lot more. The thing is how he handles someone with good defence who can take big shots and keep giving them back. It makes this fight with Macklin really interesting. We know he can KO lesser boxers early, but how does he go late in a fight?
BD - Ok, so how do you see it going on Sunday? Golovkin v Macklin - who wins and how?
DG - I think Golovkin probably wins the fight but there is a big chance for an upset in this one. Macklin does have the ability to withstand shots and if he can handle Golovkin early then we'll see what happens. In saying that, he might lack the footwork and speed to win the fight. So, Macklin has a fighter's chance but I reckon Golovkin, probably on points.
BD - Your next fight is against Darren Barker on August 18th (AEST) on Main Event, live from the USA. It's been an extended preparation for this one with your last fight way back on January 30. Has that been a help or a hindrance?
DG - The time hasn't been that frustrating to me. Obviously things have been slowed down with all the stuff with Sam Soliman in Germany but that hasn't got to me. I've had time to work on some stuff in the gym, and improve my skills and certainly my strength. I thought I was strong in my last fight but I really am getting stronger all the time. For boxing fans I think my fight will be a good one to watch for that reason – it’s going to be exciting.
BD - What's your schedule between now and the fight?
DG - Training's going to be very tough right up until when we leave for the US ,about ten days out from the fight. I'll be sparring up until then pretty much. At the moment I'm sparring with Ben McCullough - he's good because he is naturally pretty similar to Barker. We'll spar with Trent Broadhurst as well and Rob Medley, and they can both do a good job of working like Barker against me. Then we'll head over to the US and do a bit of publicity in New York City, then head to Atlantic City for the fight.
BD - What do you make of Darren Barker, and what is your plan to beat him?
DG - I believe it is a matter of keeping doing what I have been, but continuing to do it better. Barker is tricky and skillful, but I don't think he has my skills. I am getting physically and mentally stronger in my boxing all the time and I think people will see that on Main Event in August. Barker won a Gold Medal at the same Commonwealth Games that I did (Manchester, 2002) but I don't remember meeting him. I’m looking forward to meeting him, and beating him, in the US. I can't wait to get over and impress the Americans and do Australia proud.
BD – Good luck Daniel, and thanks for your time.
DG – Thanks Ben, a pleasure as always.