It's no secret that the fight former unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin wants most is a third crack at bitter rival Canelo Alvarez, who took his belts by disputed majority decision in their rematch last September, which came a year after an even more controversial draw that most thought GGG won.
While Alvarez has also shown interest in a third fight, he has said he would want it only if GGG had another belt to bring to the table because he is more interested in unifying the division. Golovkin took exception to that while speaking at the kickoff news conference on Monday to promote his fight with Steve Rolls on June 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"I think Canelo is not correct to say that," Golovkin said. "We have to see what's going to happen. I'm hoping to fight him, title or not."
Tom Loeffler, the managing director of GGG Promotions, agreed.
"I don't think the titles are going to make a difference," he said. "Both GGG and Canelo are above needing a title at this point in their career. I think the third fight will come down to economics."
But before there can be a third chapter of the series, Alvarez first has to succeed against Daniel Jacobs in their highly anticipated 160-pound title unification fight on May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and Golovkin has to take care of Rolls.
On Monday, Golovkin and Rolls met face-to-face to promote their 12-round fight, which will be contested at 164 pounds, before heading to Los Angeles for another news conference on Tuesday. The fight with Rolls will be the first of Golovkin's three-year, six-fight, nine-figure deal with sports streaming service DAZN, which last fall signed Alvarez to a then-record athlete contract worth at least $365 million over five years and 11 fights.
Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), 37, a Kazakhstan native living in Santa Monica, California, who has taken the reins of the business side of his career, took his time to weigh offers from various broadcasters before signing with DAZN. With that decision out of the way, he said he was happy to finally turn his attention to boxing again and do so at the Garden, where he has fought five times (three times in the main arena and twice in the Hulu Theater) and drawn big crowds.
"I'm happy go back to the sport. I'm happy to be back at Madison Square Garden," Golovkin said. "It's a very interesting time for me. It's an amazing time for the sport and an amazing time for boxing. Madison Square Garden, I feel like it's my second home."
Rolls is undefeated but a virtually unknown opponent with a thin résumé. But Golovkin showed him ample respect.
"It doesn't matter who says what, it's going to be me and you in the ring and may the strongest man win," Golovkin said to Rolls. "I would like to wish him luck, and we'll see what happens. I don't have a lot of time left in my career. This is the time when we'll be able to give our audience a good, big show."
When Alvarez defeated Golovkin last year, it ended GGG's historic middleweight title reign at a division-record-tying 20 defenses. So with no title to defend and the prospect of an eventual move to the 168-pound super middleweight division to look for another title possibility down the road, GGG said he figured he would fight a few pounds over the middleweight limit.
"I wanted to try it out, try this weight, but it wasn't that big of a deal for me to do this weight," he said. "And for my opponent, this would be a little more comfortable since he usually fights at 168. I wouldn't want him to be uncomfortable."
Still, Golovkin expects to return to 160 pounds for a possible third fight with Alvarez in September if they both win their upcoming bouts.
"It's why Gennady signed with DAZN. It's the clearest path to that [fight]," Loeffler said.
However, first comes Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs), 35, of Toronto, who is a massive underdog.
"If [Golovkin] thinks this is going to be a walkover, then this is going to be a long f------ night," Rolls promoter Lou DiBella said. "I don't think it's going to be an easy night for GGG. Rolls has been doing this a long time. I'm not bringing a victim to MSG. I'm not. I don't believe he's a stepping-stone for anybody.
"The future of his family changes in one night with a good night. I'm not talking win, loss or draw, but a good night from Steve Rolls changes his life. It justifies the half of his life that he's spent doing this. So I'm happy he got here. I think he deserves to be here. I hope that GGG is the best GGG because Steve Rolls is a professional fighter, a good fighter who can knock him off his course. This is for him the lottery here. He's wanted a big fight, and he's got the biggest. It's his Super Bowl. He's not going to roll over for anyone -- excuse the bad pun -- and he's not going to roll over for Gennady Golovkin. He's been waiting a long time for a chance, his moment, his shot."
Rolls said he's fully embraced his underdog status.
"I've been doing a lot of reading lately, and there are a couple things I keep coming across -- 'Who is this guy?' and 'This is going to be a tune-up fight,'" Rolls said. "I'm the underdog that's been hungry for this position. Make no mistake, this isn't a tune-up. I'm coming to fight. And with everybody who doesn't know me now, after June 8, you won't forget me. I've got much respect for Gennady Golovkin, but I'm coming to shock the world.
"He has been a dominant middleweight, probably the best for the last few decades. I'm not overlooking anything and I'm going in there preparing for the best Golovkin. It's going to be hell. It's going to be a grueling fight."