LOS ANGELES — Gennady Golovkin won't really get to see his son grow up this year. He's spending most of his life in a high-altitude gym in California, a continent away from 4-year-old Vadim in Stuttgart, Germany.
The WBA middleweight champion aims to fight five times in 2013, which turns his life into a cycle of monotonous training punctuated by electric ring performances. His slight breaks from the grind are measured in days, not months — and it's hardly enough time for a personal life, let alone parenthood.
"The only negative is he doesn't see his son as much as he would like," said Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez. "We're trying to work something out so he can see him more, but it's tough. He knows what he's trying to accomplish, and it takes sacrifice."
Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) thinks his heavy schedule will be worth all the work if he keeps moving forward in his quest to join the world's best pound-for-pound fighters — and at 31, he knows every passing month is precious to his goal.
"I want to fight the best, and I want to fight all the time," Golovkin said. "This is my dream, so I have to keep going."
Golovkin takes the biggest step yet in his march on Saturday when he faces Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs), a respected veteran middleweight, at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in eastern Connecticut. Although Golovkin has a title belt and the respect of most boxing insiders, he's still a nightmare matchup for the few fighters considered his peers from 154 to 168 pounds, due to his combination of formidable talent and little mainstream name recognition.
Although Golovkin can't get the world's best opponents yet, he insists he'll keep working until they can't ignore him.
"A lot of people who become successful lose the meaning of being a world champion," said Golovkin's promoter, Tom Loeffler. "He's willing to fight anybody, and we want to keep him busy, keep him in front of the fans. That's really the goal, is to create an aura around Gennady."
Most elite fighters don't step in the ring more than twice in a year, but Golovkin's team refuses to let him sit around, even when his potential opponents aren't world-beaters. Since Labor Day last year, Golovkin has stopped Grzegorz Proksa, Gabriel Rosado and Nobuhiro Ishida, adding three more knockouts to his streak of 13 straight stoppage victories.
He even took on Ishida in a small casino venue in Monte Carlo in March, savagely flattening his Japanese opponent while Monaco's Prince Albert watched at ringside and later took to the ring to congratulate him.
"Those fights in Europe create some exposure, but that moment, with Prince Albert, in that kind of setting, those are the moments we want to make in Gennady's career," Loeffler said. "The main thing is keeping him on TV and keeping his presence."
Indeed, Golovkin's skills are made for television, and he's grinding through this heavy schedule with support from HBO, which has grown intrigued by the hard-punching Kazakh ex-Olympian. American network support is among a boxer's biggest allies in getting top-level fights, and Golovkin hasn't let down his backers.
Almost nobody doubts the quality of his latest opponent, and Golovkin knows it might be his toughest fight to date.
"He has destroyed pretty much everyone, and as a consequence, he's probably the most hyped fighter in the sport right now," Macklin said of Golovkin.
Macklin, born in England to Irish parents, might have already been the WBA 160-pound champion if he hadn't taken on Felix Sturm in the champ's native Germany, where Sturm won a split decision two years ago despite Macklin's impressive performance.
Macklin then knocked down middleweight king Sergio Martinez in March 2012 before getting stopped in the 11th round of a thriller. He has fought just once since that defeat, stopping Joachim Alcine in the first round last September.
A persuasive victory over Macklin would answer the few criticisms still dogging Golovkin, whose imposing record and knockout streak have been compiled against a list of opponents that's not awe-inspiring.
"The most important thing is to silence some of the critics," Loeffler said. "This is the most important statement he can make. Other names were available, but Macklin was clearly the top name."
Golovkin spends most of his life at Sanchez's gym in Big Bear, Calif., but he's not always isolated from family: His fraternal twin brother, Max, joined Golovkin's camp in the weeks before his latest fight. Max also was a talented amateur boxer, but he said he stopped pursuing his career when he recognized Gennady's abilities.
If Golovkin comes out of his fight with Macklin victorious and uninjured, he hopes to fight two more times this year, which means even more time in Big Bear and less in Stuttgart.
But after spending much of his 20s languishing outside the world stage and battling to get free of his previous promoter, Golovkin accepts the challenge to create his dream career in fast-forward time.
"We knew what kind of an onslaught it was going to be, fighting like this," Sanchez said. "We knew the pressures and commitments that come with it. The window of opportunity is so small for these guys. Let's just take the two or three years that we have guaranteed and make the most of them."