Boxing
 
      === Fitz Hitz: Geale undeterred by role as middleweight underdog ===
 
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Boxing Editor
 
 Cape Coral, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - If you're waiting for Daniel Geale to
 join the masses genuflecting at the rampaging feet of IBO/WBA middleweight
 champion Gennady Golovkin these days, here's a time-saving tip.
 
 Don't hold your breath. It's just not happening.
 
 But not because the laid-back, soft-spoken Australian is disrespectful of the
 unbeaten, dual-belted opponent he'll encounter this Saturday night in the big
 room at Madison Square Garden.
 
 Instead, it's simply because he believes that much in his own abilities.
 
 "Yeah. I believe so," he told me during a recent phone chat, when I asked
 directly if he was the best 160-pounder in the world. But he wasn't content in
 simply saying it. In fact, he said, he's itching for the chance to get to New
 York to demonstrate it to the rest of a predominantly doubtful world.
 
 "I want to prove that as well. I've been saying back home in Australia that I
 want to fight the best fighters in the world, and at the moment Golovkin is
 regarded as the best middleweight in the world. That's the reason I'm fighting
 him."
 
 Indeed, praise for Golovkin is at a fever pitch these days thanks to a streak
 of 16 consecutive early victories in a streak that stretches more than six
 years. Several recent wins have been shown on HBO, which has boosted his
 profile into the mainstream and created room for sycophants who'd have been
 hard-pressed to pick him from a lineup in the earliest days of an IBO reign
 which began in late 2011.
 
 He was the WBA's bogus "regular" champion as far back as 2010, but didn't
 elevate to the organization's top spot until its previous No. 1 man, Felix
 Sturm, was dethroned in September 2012.
 
 Ironically, the man responsible for Sturm's toppling and Golovkin's
 ascension... Geale.
 
 Now 33 years old, Geale beat Sturm but subsequently chucked the WBA's belt in
 favor of the IBF hardware he'd already held for 16 months and defended twice.
 He successfully risked that one once more - defeating countryman Anthony
 Mundine in a high-profile rematch - before losing it via tight split decision
 to Darren Barker in his in-ring debut in the United States.
 
 Geale has fought just once since, stopping Garth Wood in six rounds in
 February, but he's feeling fit, ready and anxious after a prolonged training
 camp that began with a focus on Matthew Macklin before plans were changed to
 make way for Golovkin.
 
 "I like this position," he said. "I've been in this position a lot of times
 before, where people write me off. I guess they don't see what I am. But
 that's a good thing. I like being the underdog and looked past and looked
 over. It doesn't really get me angry. If anything it gets me a little bit
 excited because I'm jumping out of my skin to come out there and prove people
 wrong."
 
 It's actually the 10th championship fight for Geale, who also pre-dated
 Golovkin when it comes the IBO title, which he won in 2007 and defended once
 before dropping it to Mundine via split decision in 2009. He went on to win
 eight fights in a row before losing to Barker, including title-level victories
 over Sebastian Sylvester, Eromosele Albert and Osumanu Adama - whom Golovkin
 beat in February.
 
 Geale is the IBO's No. 1 contender and he's rated No. 3 by the WBA, behind
 Jarrod Fletcher.
 
 Fletcher was the WBA's mandatory challenger and in line to meet Golovkin, but
 Golovkin appealed for an exception to fight Geale when HBO balked at the idea
 of broadcasting Golovkin-Fletcher. Geale was initially set to fight Macklin on
 a late May show that included heavyweights Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings, but
 that card was scrapped when Perez pulled out due to a shoulder injury.
 
 Perez and Jennings will meet in the final preliminary bout before Golovkin-
 Geale on Saturday.
 
 The Independent World Boxing Rankings, which position all fighters regardless
 of their standing with the various sanctioning bodies, have Geale slotted
 third, Golovkin at fourth and Fletcher at 14th.
 
 Nos. 1 and 2 are occupied by Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez.
 
 Geale is a 7 1/2-1 underdog according to VegasInsider.com, which lists
 Golovkin as a 14-1 favorite. A $100 wager on Geale would return $750 in the
 event of an upset, while a $1,400 outlay on Golovkin would bring back $100 if
 the favorite follows through with a win.
 
 "Everybody knows (Golovkin has) got power, but they probably overlook his
 footwork a little," Geale said. "The guy's always in a really good place to
 throw powerful shots. I know most of his strengths and a few of his weaknesses
 as well, but I'm more focused on myself and making sure I fight the best fight
 I can. Because if I do, I know I'm going to be successful in this one."
 
 THIS WEEK'S TITLE-FIGHT SCHEDULE:
 
 SATURDAY
 
 IBO/WBA middleweight titles - New York, N.Y.
 
 Gennady Golovkin (champion/No. 4 IWBR) vs. Daniel Geale (No. 1 IBO
 contender/No. 3 IWBR)
 
 Golovkin (29-0, 26 KO): Eighth IBO title defense (sixth WBA), 16 straight wins
 by stoppage
 
 Geale (30-2, 16 KO): Tenth title fight (7-2), second fight in United States
 (0-1)
 
 Fitzbitz says: I can't quite pull the trigger on the upset, but I do expect
 Geale to give Triple-G as much as he's been given at any time during his
 IBO/WBA reigns. No blowout here. Golovkin by decision
 
 Last week's picks: 2-2 (WIN: Tete, Rigondeaux; LOSE: Sinyabi, Dapudong);
 2014 picks record: 51-14 (78.4 percent); Overall picks record: 598-208 (74.1
 percent)
 
 NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-
 fledged title-holder - no interim, diamond, silver or other titles. Fights for
 WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in
 the weight class,
 
 Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who has written professionally
 since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
 posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
 fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 07/21 15:06:53 ET

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