Gennady Golovkin: The Once & Future Middleweight King
Lou Eisen / February 27, 2013 - 2:23pm
Born on April 8, 1982 in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, which was part of Russia back then, current WBA/IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (W25, KO22) may very well be at this point in his career, the only credible fighter with a genuine chance of defeating Sergio Martinez, considered to be the ONLY middleweight champion of the world.
Even though Golovkin holds the WBA/IBO world middleweight titles, Martinez is the current Lineal, Ring magazine and WBC middleweight champion of the world. In reality, with so many alpha bet belts poisoning boxing these days, the only title with any real gravitas in the eyes of the fans and the experts is the lineal title. In the eyes of most boxing historians, Martinez is the true middleweight world champion because of his lineal claim to the title. The lineal champion in every weight division always has more credibility to his title claim because holding the lineal title means you can trace the championship back to the very first champion ever in that particular weight division.
Golovkin is beginning to build a huge fan base in North America in an effort to bolster his claim to being the true middleweight world champion. With each fight and impressive victory, Golovkin is selling out arenas all over the United States with his exciting, power punching, take-no-prisoners style of boxing. Styles make fights and a unification bout between Martinez and Golovkin would be a crowd pleaser for all concerned.
Martinez is listed as a boxer/puncher. In essence, he is a pure counter puncher with crushing power in his left hand. Martinez is a gifted fighter. He works hard in the gym. He sticks to his game plan in the ring. Martinez is able to create angles in such subtle fashion during his fights that his opponent isn't even aware he is being set-up for a knockout blow until he hits the canvas with a loud thud.
Golovkin and Martinez are a study in contrasts in terms of the boxing styles they employ in the ring. Whereas Martinez will circle and counter his opponent, hoping to wear him down over the distance of the fight, Golovkin is a stalker, looking to take out his prey much like a lion stalks a young or wounded zebra. Golovkin has very quick hands and is an excellent counter puncher in his own right when the situation calls for it. Where he differs greatly from Martinez is that he likes to always be the first to get off with his punches. He is never afraid to let his hands go and he will take whatever his opponent will give him in the way of a target. Golovkin will whack his foes in the body mercilessly while banging away at their arms and hips as well.
Golovkin is willing to take a few shots as well in order to land his own heavy artillery. It is a losing trade for his opponents. When his foes can no longer withstand the pain that Golovkin is relentlessly inflicting on their bodies, he then brings his shots upstairs in quick, short combinations, punctuating his flurries with a short, left hook which he turns over on contact, usually leaving his exhausted and beaten ring foes on the canvas in a bloody, painful heap. Golovkin has no mercy for any opponent to whom he is administering a bad beating. He keeps punching until the referee stops the slaughter or his opponent slumps to the canvas, out for the night.
To put it bluntly, Martinez is a craftsman and Golovkin is as pure a puncher as the middleweight division has ever seen. He carries extreme malevolence in both hands. They are without any trace of doubt, the two beat middleweight fighters in the world today.
Golovkin is extraordinarily gifted in all facets of boxing. He gives the fans what they come to see, punishment and pain. He has great reflexes and is very poised and precise in the ring, like a veteran sniper calmly looking into the scope of his gun before he gently squeezes the trigger to bring his prey to the ground. Golovkin is never ruffled inside the ropes.
Once that opening bell rings to start the fight, the only thing uppermost on Golovkin's mind is to score a knockout and the more brutal the better. One reason why Golovkin has managed to score so many knockouts at the pro level is chiefly because of his extraordinary ability to cut off the ring on his hapless opponents. Sooner or later, regardless of your style, whether you're a dancer, or a stick and move type fighter, Golovkin will inevitably force you to trade power punches with him at some point during the match, which is a proposition that always ends up in the Kazakh's favor.
Golovkin may be the very best fighter in the sport when it comes to trapping then destroying an opponent. Golovkin's mindset is that it is only a matter of time before he wins by knockout and that all resistance is futile. His ability to cut off the ring must be truly terrifying to many of his wounded foes. He is a very smart fighter in the ring and never walks to an opponent in a straight line. He always slides to his foe on an angle. This forces his opponents to eventually stand there and engage him, which is the last thing they want to do, especially when they are dazed, hurt and bleeding. At that point they are usually looking for a soft spot to lie down and call it a night.
Golovkin has over 350 amateur fights to his credit. He is an experienced fighter with much international success on his boxing ledger. He makes everything look easy in the ring. He is always ready with a kind smile for his foes both before and after each fight. Don't let that smile fool you. Once the fight is underway, his blue eyes become windows to his soul's true intent, which is the utter and absolute destruction of his unfortunate opponent.
Technically, Golovkin mixes his punches up well and carries jaw-busting power for a guy who does not look too physically intimidating. He has a quick, punishing left jab, a wicked right cross and a debilitating short, left hook to the liver. He expertly puts his punches together in combinations. He has become something of a specialist on how to approach fighters that hold their hands high and tight to protect their heads. Golovkin throws his shots around their guards. This shortens up his shots, which allows him to put his whole body weight behind each hook.
When Golovkin lands flush with either hand, guys go down for good. Does he have any flaws? Yes, his main flaw is that he is so good that he is unable to get any big name middleweights to fight him. Just about every big name middleweight has turned him down for various reasons such as, he is not well known enough or he can't draw enough fans to a fight to make it worthwhile fighting him. Thanks to HBO the excuse that he is not well known enough will no longer hold any water. As far as Team Golovkin is concerned, there are three specific fights that he is currently very interested in securing.
Of course, he would most love to fight Sergio Martinez (W50, KO28, L2, D2) because Martinez has the most name recognition in the entire middleweight division and he is viewed by many to be the main man at 160 lbs. However, that fight is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Martinez is 38 while Golovkin is 31. Martinez is gunning for a super big payday with Floyd Mayweather Jr., which means he is very unlikely to risk a possible loss against a vicious young, motivated slugger like Golovkin. Such a loss would lower the money he would make against Mayweather Jr. Martinez only has several fights left in him and will be looking to maximize his earning potential in each of those fights.
Failing to make a fight against Martinez come to fruition, Golovkin would love to add another title belt to his growing collection by taking on fellow Russian slugger Dmitry Pirog (W20 KO15) for his WBO middleweight title. As appealing as such a fight would be to real boxing purists and hardcore fans, it would still draw very little if any attention in North America.
This is a fight that would almost certainly have to be staged in Russia to draw a huge fan following. Golovkin has more experience than Pirog but Pirog has one-punch knockout power. This fight would be a war for as long as it lasts. Also, ever since his dramatic and almost career ending knockout of Daniel Jacobs, Pirog has had a lot of trouble as well getting decent fights. He is one of the most avoided pugilists in pro boxing today.
Pirog's people probably want to let their guy get a some more experience under his belt before they let him face as complete a fighter as Golovkin. The smart move here would be to let both guys add some more significant names to their win columns before fighting each other for a lot of money. Then where does that leave Golovkin in terms of viable opponents to face? Well, a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (after his suspension is over), would bring in big numbers all over the world. That is a fight fans would love to see.
Given what almost happened in round 12 of his fight with Martinez, Chavez Jr. is a worthy opponent that might give him some cause for concern over the 12 round championship distance. Chavez Jr. has a granite chin and can take a shot and he has superior technical boxing skills than Golovkin. Chavez Jr. proved that he could fight full out for 12 rounds and, (even more importantly against Golovkin), that carries his power into the later rounds. This would make Golovkin give him some respect at least in the very early going of the bout.
Why would Chavez Jr. risk a very possible brutal knockout loss by agreeing to take on a murderous puncher like Golovkin? The answer to that is Golovkin does indeed have a flaw in his armor that Chavez Jr. can well exploit in his favor on his way to a points win. Golovkin rarely if ever moves his head during a fight. Golovkin, who likes to be called Triple G or GGG, does get tagged in the head more often than a fighter of his stature should.
For Chavez Jr. such an inviting target as a stationary head is an opportunity that is just too good to pass up. Chavez's reach and hand speed can help him exploit such a flaw in Golovkin's game. Chavez Jr. would attempt to win on points while Golovkin would look for an early knockout. This would be a classic boxer-slugger match-up, the kind of fight that leaves fans drooling. In his haste to accept such a fight, Chavez Jr. would do well to remind himself that even though Golovkin can be tagged in the head, he is capable of punching back with fight-ending power. Although Martinez painted a steady tattoo on Chavez's face and body, preferring to punish his younger opponent for the full 12 hard fought and punishing rounds, Chavez the Younger was still in there pitching right up until the final bell, and almost pulled out a dramatic victory win in the very last round.
Golovkin will be a completely different look and style for Chavez Jr. to deal with. For starters, Golovkin will be applying constant fistic pressure and cutting off the ring from the opening bell. Golovkin will have no interest in boxing Chavez Jr. from a distance or getting into a battle of jabs with him. Golovkin will attempt to make this a phone booth war of attrition, playing to his own strengths rather than to those of Chavez Jr. If Golovkin can get a dramatic and emphatic KO win over Chavez Jr. or even Pirog, then Martinez will have no choice but to fight him or retire.
Chavez Jr. is much like his legendary father in that he does love to stand there in ring center sometimes and slug it out on occasion. This plays exactly into Golovkin's devastating hands. Chavez Jr. would be well advised to resist temptation and stick to boxing if and when he fights Golovkin. Even if Chavez Jr. does get a rematch with Martinez, the man to bet on long term in the middleweight division is Golovkin. He is just entering his prime while Martinez has maybe one or two more fights left in him at the most. It's time fight fans start remembering Golovkin's name. They are going to be hearing it for a very long time to come.