NEW YORK (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. is retired, or so he says, and boxing is in search of a new star.
Gennady Golovkin wants that role, making his coming-out party Saturday night against David Lemieux at Madison Square Garden even more important for both him and the sport.
"This is a new story for boxing, very good for boxing," Golovkin said. "I remember a long time ago when boxing was very famous. Now there's not as much interest, but there could be."
Golovkin could bring some of that interest back the old fashioned way — with his fists. The big puncher from Kazakhstan, who has stopped his last 20 opponents within the distance, hopes to do it against another big puncher in Lemieux when the two meet with middleweight titles at stake.
But while Mayweather made his millions despite a somewhat boring defensive style, Golovkin plans to do it by knocking people out.
"It's about style," the fighter known more popularly as Triple G said. "Everybody understands Mayweather's style, he's like a computer game. My style is more like a street fight, more of a real fight. It's like Mike Tyson's style."
Golovkin was, as usual, all smiles Friday when he and Lemieux stepped on the scales before several hundred cheering fans, both weighing in at just under the 160-pound limit. His grins came with good reason, because the 33-year-old has a lot to be happy about.
When they handed out the Emmy Awards last month he was on the red carpet hobnobbing with the Hollywood elite. He has looks and an endearing personality that is in sharp contrast to his devastating punching skills.
Now he headlines a sold-out show at the Garden and is making his pay-per-view debut in a fight that potentially could put him in the mix among fighters trying to follow in Mayweather's footsteps.
The price is cheap enough ($49.95) for those watching at home, though Golovkin is expected to sell only a few hundred thousand pay-per-views at best despite a card that features unbeaten flyweight sensation Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua against former champion Brian Viloria in a co-main event.
That could change in the near future if the fight matches the explosive expectations of two huge punchers who don't like to take a step back.
"The fans want to go back to those yesterdays of great fights," Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, said. "Guys with intelligence and great defensive skills to fight great fights and go after each other in the middle of the ring."
Lemieux, who brings a piece of the middleweight title into the ring himself, believes he is up to the challenge. The Canadian (34-2) has power of his own, stopping 31 opponents and believes he can stop Golovkin if the fight turns into the brawl it is expected to become.
"I do have power, but I'm not going into this fight only with power," Lemieux said. "I'm going to need all the tools in order to be sharp in a fight of this degree. He's a very good fighter, very smart, but I think I've got a lot of surprises to show the world."
Whoever wins should have a promising future in a middleweight division that is suddenly resurgent. While things don't always happen as planned in boxing, the current plan is to match the winner of Saturday's fight with the winner of the Nov. 21 title bout between Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto in a blockbuster fight next spring.
"The best fighting the best," said Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes Lemieux. "We're going back to the way boxing used to be."