Rugged Rubio eager to mix with middleweight pariah

Marco Antonio Rubio is thrilled with company few others want to keep.

The 34-year-old Mexican has been granted an Oct. 18 middleweight championship date with International Boxing Organization (IBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) title-holder Gennady Golovkin -- a fighter almost no one else has leapt at a chance to spend an evening with.

It’s the third chance at a full-fledged belt for the 14-year veteran, who was stopped in nine rounds by Kelly Pavlik -- then the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion at 160 pounds -- five years ago in Youngstown, Ohio.

Three years and 10 wins later, Rubio went the distance with subsequent WBC claimant Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., but lost a wide decision in San Antonio.

The October fight will be at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. and will be broadcast by HBO.

“I'm excited to fight another world champion,” Rubio said. “I always accept the biggest challenges, and without a doubt this will be the greatest of my career. I will show Golovkin a real Mexican style fight.”

Rubio holds the WBC’s meaningless “interim” title belt, which is a glorified way of saying he’s the No. 1 contender to that sanctioning body’s champion, Miguel Cotto. He was not among the top 15 contenders in the WBA’s July 30 rankings and is considered the No. 8 contender to Golovkin’s title by the IBO.

The Independent World Boxing Rankings, which position all fighters in a weight class regardless of their sanctioning body status, have Golovkin third at middleweight behind only Cotto and the man he defeated for the WBC belt in June, Sergio Martinez.

Rubio is at No. 8 on that list, with Daniel Geale, Sam Soliman, Felix Sturm and Peter Quillin -- all of whom hold or have held title belts -- between them.

“It will be a tremendous fight,” said Oswaldo Kuchle of Mexico’s Promociones Del Pueblo, which works with Rubio. “I can assure you that Rubio will make this a war.”

Rubio has won six straight since the Chavez loss to boost his career mark to 59-6-1, but the recent streak pales when laid alongside Golovkin, who’s won all 30 fights as a pro since 2006 and hasn’t gone the distance since 2008 -- a stretch of 17 consecutive stoppages that have lasted an average of 3.88 rounds.

The KO run has made the 32-year-old Kazakh a particularly unpopular commodity among other high-profile fighters, whom he claims have rebuked his repeated requests to get together.

“I'm always open for any fighter,” Golovkin said. “It's not my fault and it's not my problem that many of them don't want to fight me.”

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist has maintained a willingness to move to 154 or 168 pounds to secure a big fight, and he appeared near a match with Chavez at 168 earlier this year before it fell through.

He specifically called Cotto’s name on an HBO broadcast after a third-round TKO of Geale at Madison Square Garden last month, and some have suggested dream matches at 154 against established pay-per-view stars Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“My focus and my goals are at 160, but I will take the fight if it's a pay-per-view fight at the weight above or below,” Golovkin said. “There are a lot of talks about those fights, and I think they're kind of seeking advertising off of my name sometimes.

"I'm open to all of them and I don't want to name anyone, but I'm ready to have fights with all of those fighters. I don't know why some of them just don't want to have a fight with me.”

Weekend Watch List
ESPN2 -- Friday, 9 p.m.
Austin Trout vs. Daniel Dawson -- 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Mahonri Montes vs. Erick Bone -- 10 rounds, junior welterweights

Fox Sports 1 -- Friday, 10 p.m.
Manuel Avila vs. Sergio Frias -- 10 rounds, junior featherweights
Gerald Washington vs. Nagy Aguilera -- eight rounds, heavyweights
Guy Robb vs. Ronell Green -- eight rounds, featherweights

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