Middleweight Daniel Geale can turn belief into reality at MSG

A streak of 16 consecutive knockout victories -- several of which were featured on HBO -- has a lot of people taking for granted these days that Gennady Golovkin is the world’s best fighter at 160 pounds.

But Daniel Geale is not one of them.

In fact, the 33-year-old Australian with three championship belts on his own career resume is expecting to prove something quite the contrary when the men meet on July 26 in New York City.

“Yeah. I believe so,” he said during a Wednesday phone chat with CBSSports.com, when asked if he was the world’s top middleweight. “And 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.”

The match will headline a two-bout edition of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” series from Madison Square Garden. The broadcast will open at 9:30 p.m. with a 10-round heavyweight bout between unbeaten fringe contenders Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez.

In the main event, Golovkin holds both the International Boxing Organization (IBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) versions of the middleweight title and has become a favorite of fans and media thanks for an unbeaten record (29-0) and a daunting KO percentage in those wins (89.7).

He’s not gone the distance in a fight since June 2008, when he unanimously outpointed Algerian opponent Amar Amari over eight rounds in Brondby, Denmark. He won the IBO’s vacant title at 160 pounds with a one-round stoppage of Lajuan Simon in December 2011, then became the WBA’s full-fledged champion a year later when previous top-tier champion Felix Sturm lost his crown.

Ironically, Sturm’s loss was at the hands of Geale, who’d also held the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) championship heading into the fight and chose to keep that title while vacating the WBA’s. Geale had reigned as IBF champ for 16 months and defended twice before toppling Sturm.

He also held the IBO belt for 17 months from 2007 into 2009, successfully defending once.

Overall, in a 10-year pro career, Geale is 30-2 with 16 knockouts.

He ultimately lost his IBF belt by split decision to Darren Barker in August 2013 and has fought just once since, stopping countryman Garth Wood in six rounds on Feb. 19.

But coming off a 10-week training camp that piggy-backed preparation for a fight with Matthew Macklin that was ultimately scrapped, he feels in top form to create a middleweight ripple by being something other than the most decorated of Golovkin’s KO victims.

“For me, I like this position,” Geale 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.”

As mentioned, Geale had begun to get ready for a match with Macklin that was scheduled to go along with the Jennings-Perez fight on May 24. But Perez pulled out with a shoulder injury and Golovkin called on Geale after requesting an exception from the WBA to avoid fighting mandatory challenger Jarrod Fletcher -- another Australian -- because HBO wouldn’t agree to televise it.

Fletcher is the WBA’s No. 2 contender to Golovkin’s crown, while Geale is a slot down at No. 3. But the Independent World Boxing Rankings list -- which includes all active fighters in a division regardless of their standing with the various sanctioning bodies -- has Geale third, Golovkin fourth and Fletcher 14th.

Incidentally, World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez, whom Cotto defeated by 10th-round TKO, in New York last month, are ranked first and second, respectively.

Odds-makers don’t give Geale much of a chance, it seems, based on his standing as a 7½-1 shot at VegasInsider.com, which means a $100 outlay on the challenger would return $750. On the flip side, it would take a massive $1,400 wager on Golovkin to return $100, thanks to his 14-1 favorite status.

“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.”

Weekend Watch List

ESPN2 -- Friday, 8 p.m.

Karim Mayfield vs Emanuel Taylor -- 10 rounds, junior welterweights

Fox Sports 1 -- Friday, 10 p.m.

Mercito Gesta vs. Luis Arceo -- 10 rounds, lightweights

Telemundo -- Friday, 11:35 p.m.

Jonathan Vidal vs. Juan Kantun -- 10 rounds, junior bantamweights

HBO2 -- Saturday, 5 p.m.

Zou Shiming vs. Luis De la Rosa -- 10 rounds, flyweights

Gilberto Ramirez vs. Junior Talipeau -- 10 rounds, super middleweights

UniMas -- Saturday, 11 p.m.

Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Sod Kokietgym – WBA/WBO junior featherweight titles

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