MANHATTAN BEACH, California (AP) -WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has no interest in sitting around and waiting for the rest of the world's best 160-pounders to accept his challenges.
That's why the Kazakh-born resident of Germany who trains in California, is in Monte Carlo this week to take on Japan's Nobuhiro Ishida on Saturday in his seventh title defense in less than 2 1/2 years.
After building his career gradually through the amateur ranks and in Europe, Golovkin (25-0, 22 KOs) is in a hurry - and he's willing to go around the world to become a pound-for-pound star.
With his reputation growing with every knockout, he's confident he'll soon land bigger opponents than Ishida (24-8-2, 9 KOs), a dangerous journeyman who's unlikely to slow down the rising star.
"I respect him," Golovkin said last week while walking around Southern California in a Mike Tyson sweatshirt. "This fight is a good idea for us. It's a beautiful city, and it's not an easy fight. But I want a big show. I want drama."
Golovkin wants to fight five times this year, and he already stopped Gabriel Rosado in the seventh round of a bloody Madison Square Garden debut in January. HBO is enchanted with Golovkin's potential and electrifying style, but couldn't guarantee a televised date for him until June - and that's why Golovkin accepted this fight with Ishida in the glittering Casino de Monte Carlo.
"We're not underestimating him, but Gennady knows the situation he's in," said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin's trainer. "If we go out there and do it the right way, hopefully nobody gets hurt and we move on to the next fight. ... He just keeps getting better. It's good because we're here at this stage in his career as a champion. It's bad because I can't get anybody in the ring with him."
With his skills at their peak, Golovkin realizes the biggest challenge at this point in his career is getting big-name opponents. Golovkin and his camp insist they would take on anybody from 154 to 168 pounds - Sergio Martinez, Canelo Alvarez, Austin Trout, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Andre Ward, or anybody else with a belt.
"When there's a big date, all the big names suddenly become unavailable," promoter Tom Loeffler said. "Even (Daniel) Geale, (Matt) Macklin, (Peter) Quillin, they were all unavailable."
Loeffler is hopeful he can entice Macklin or Germany's Felix Sturm into a bout this summer, two fights that would be significant steps up. Although Golovkin is a nightmare matchup, his growing fame outside hard-core boxing circles and his American television appeal might finally get him in the discussion among the world's best this year.
"His star has been rising, but he knows he has to put on exciting fights," Loeffler said. "The last fight was his chance to fulfill a dream to fight in Madison Square Garden, and this is a chance to reconnect with his fans in Europe. His focus is on becoming a household name in the U.S., but he doesn't mind fighting in any country against any champion."
Ishida has never been stopped, and he stunned James Kirkland with a first-round upset knockout in 2011. He has collected good paydays for one-sided losses to Paul Williams and Dmitry Pirog since then, and he's considering retirement if he loses to Golovkin.
"It will be a good fight," Golovkin said. "I'll make sure it's a good fight."