LOS ANGELES — Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin will fight Willie Monroe Jr. on May 16 at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Promoter Tom Loeffler announced Golovkin's next matchup Friday, putting the unbeaten Kazakh fighter back on HBO in another historic venue before his growing Southern California fan base.
"Gennady wants to stay active, and this fight will present a great challenge and a big contrast in styles for fans," Loeffler said.
Golovkin (32-0, 29 KOs) has stopped his last 19 opponents in a dynamic run to the top of his sport. He battered Britain's Martin Murray last month in Monaco before finishing him in the 11th round, the longest fight of his career.
Still unable to land a bout with WBC 160-pound champion Miguel Cotto or other big-name stars, Golovkin settled for Monroe (19-1, 6 KOs), a little-known fighter from upstate New York with nine consecutive victories. The left-hander won a middleweight tournament on ESPN last year and followed it up with a unanimous decision over veteran Bryan Vera in January.
Loeffler still betrays little frustration with the rest of the boxing elite's unwillingness to take on the power-punching Golovkin, who has become the sport's most consistent knockout artist.
"We haven't gotten that high-profile fight yet, just because you can't force someone to get in the ring," Loeffler said. "We weren't able to make the Cotto fight. Until someone actually agrees to that, Gennady is going to continue to do what he's been doing."
Golovkin holds the WBA and IBO 160-pound titles and the interim WBC belt. Cotto and his trainer, Freddie Roach, have shown no interest in giving a shot to Golovkin, his mandatory challenger for the 160-pound belt.
Cotto is smaller than Golovkin and not a full-sized middleweight, but other 160-pound stars are equally unwilling to risk their careers against Golovkin. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. backed away from a bout against Golovkin at the Forum last year.
Yet Golovkin's television ratings and fan attention are steadily rising, along with the financial commitment from HBO, which has made him a staple of their boxing coverage.
"The formula has worked," Loeffler said. "The last 2 1/2 years since his debut on HBO, Gennady has gone from relative obscurity to one of the most talked-about fighters in the world. Every step is a strategic step to building his global brand and proving that he is the best fighter in the world."
Golovkin sold out the StubHub Center in Carson last year for his 4 1/2-minute knockout of respected veteran Marco Antonio Rubio, forcing organizers to add 1,000 more seats to the outdoor venue.
His promoters have moved him to the larger Forum, an arena rich in boxing tradition after its decades under control of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who staged hundreds of fights south of downtown Los Angeles. Golovkin trains in Big Bear and is popular among Latino boxing fans in Southern California, where he moved last year from Germany.
"He sold the most tickets in the history of the StubHub Center, and that's a building that has had some great fighters and some great fights," Loeffler said. "When you put together that type of a reaction, it was only natural to go to a bigger venue."