SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin's bout against Willie Monroe Jr. on Saturday has nearly sold out the Forum.
Tom Loeffler, Golovkin's promoter, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the historic Inglewood arena's 12,600-seat configuration for boxing is approaching full capacity.
A sellout would be another remarkable achievement for the unbeaten Golovkin, a former Kazakh Olympian who was unknown in North America less than three years ago. He will go for his 20th consecutive stoppage victory when he meets Monroe, who has won nine straight fights.
"It just shows that people are excited about seeing a great fighter who puts on entertaining fights," Loeffler said. "It's clear to us that Gennady has built a real fan base now, whether it's in New York or Europe or here in Los Angeles, which is his second home."
Golovkin (32-0, 29 KOs) is the world's most dominant 160-pound fighter, and he has risen up many pound-for-pound lists while winning the WBA title and the interim WBC belt. He already has built an enthusiastic following among hard-core boxing fans, but his mainstream popularity is growing exponentially with his prominent spots on HBO's boxing lineup in recent years.
Golovkin has trained in Big Bear for the past four years, and he made his Southern California debut at the StubHub Center in Carson last October. His second-round stoppage of Marco Antonio Rubio drew 9,353 fans to the famed outdoor venue south of downtown Los Angeles, allowing the promoters to put in several hundred temporary seats to hold the overflow.
Golovkin moved from Stuttgart, Germany, to the Los Angeles area last year with his wife and 5-year-old son, Vadim, who is attending kindergarten.
"I want to learn English more, so maybe I'll go to school, too," Golovkin said with a grin. "After my German career, I wanted to go to the U.S., because it's all first-class. I had a dream for the future, and I love California. I love Los Angeles. I have many friends here now."
He also plans to honor one of his adopted hometown's most beloved sporting institutions during his fight at the famed Forum, the refurbished former home of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Golovkin will wear Lakers colors, sporting white trunks with purple lettering and gold outlines. Magic Johnson also is expected to attend the bout, making his first trip to the Forum since the Madison Square Garden Company purchased it in 2012 and revamped the dilapidated venue into a home for concerts and boxing.
Saturday's show also received a box-office boost with the inclusion of Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, the WBC flyweight champion fighting Edgar Sosa on the undercard. Gonzalez has a passionate following in Los Angeles' expatriate Nicaraguan community.