Gennady Golovkin is targeting a dream middleweight unification fight against Britain's Billy Joe Saunders before any high-profile clash with rival Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. The powerful Kazakh saw a formidable streak of knockouts come to an end on Saturday night (18 March) as he was taken the distance by American challenger Daniel "Miracle Man" Jacobs in the toughest test of his career to date.
Golovkin eventually prevailed via unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden to extend his run of consecutive professional victories to 37, although the slightly underwhelming nature of his performance – he had not previously boxed all 12 rounds since 2008 – made the undefeated 34-year-old appear far more mortal than previously thought.
Attentions immediately then turned to a prospective meeting with Canelo rather than any rematch with Jacobs, with a belief that a meeting between two of the world's most popular fighters can be agreed before the end of 2017.
And while Golovkin immediately reiterated his interest in making that happen, it appears that first the WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO champion is eager to try and complete his collection of middleweight titles by taking the WBO belt Saunders claimed from Andy Lee in 2015 and defended in unconvincing fashion against little-known Russian Artur Akavov in December.
"Saunders is my dream fight for unifying all the middleweight titles," Golovkin was quoted as saying by The Mail. "It is my ambition to take from him the only belt I am missing. So yes, I definitely want to fight him before the big drama against Canelo Alvarez."
Golovkin expressed a desire to stage the fight in his native Kazakhstan, although promoter Tom Loeffler, who is set to meet counterpart Frank Warren soon, confirmed that the UK is also a possibility after his star client beat Kell Brook at London's O2 Arena last September.
Speaking to The Sun after watching that battle with Jacobs, Saunders appeared extremely open to a meeting with "GGG" and claimed he would be willing to travel to Central Asia to make it happen.
"I'll travel anywhere," he said. "I'm not bothered about fighting him in Kazakhstan — I'll fight him in a field for all I care. He wants the WBO belt and I'm willing to put it on the line. Golovkin is strong but a boxer always beats a puncher and he's never faced anyone as tricky as me. Jacobs gave him a real fight on Saturday but he isn't in my class when I'm on form."