Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Is Gennady Golovkin on a collision course with Sergio Martinez?

Undefeated Unified WBA/IBO World Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has become one of the hottest fighters not just in the Middleweight division but of the entire sport of Boxing.  Golovkin a fighter with a near 90% career knockout ratio has the kind of crowd pleasing style and punching power that can turn heads. 

Golovkin first burst on the scene here in the United States by scoring a devastating knockout win over a game but overmatched Grzegorz Proksa  in a fight where Golovkin knocked Proksa down  in rounds one, four, and then knocking him down face first in round five forcing the bout to be stopped.  Golovkin clearly established in one fight that he was a fighter to watch. 

Golovkin followed that win by punishing Jr. Middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado who was moving up in weight to the Middleweight division.  Golovkin dominated from start to finish cutting Rosado in the second round and continuing to punish the game challenger before Rosado’s corner stopped the fight in the seventh round. 

Off of the strength of those two performances some began anointing Golovkin as the heir apparent to WBC World Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, the man widely considered as the top fighter in the Middleweight division.  Despite the intimidating statistics of a near 90% career knockout ratio and having stopped twelve consecutive opponents I wondered who might be able to provide a test for Golovkin before I began calling for a Martinez-Golovkin showdown. 

When it was announced that Golovkin would defend his title on March 30th against Nobuhiro Ishida my initial thought was that this could be a competitive fight.  Ishida was best known to American Boxing fans as the fighter who scored an unexpected upset of previously undefeated Jr. Middleweight contender James Kirkland, knocking him out in the first round. 

Ishida was coming into this fight having lost his last two bouts to former Welterweight world champion Paul Williams and losing to former WBO World Middleweight champion Dmitry Pirog in his last bout prior to taking on Golovkin.  Ishida however entered as a former world title challenger who had previously held interim status in the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) Jr. Middleweight ratings in his career.  Despite those losses, Ishida was competitive in both fights and had never been knocked out in his career.  Based on this it looked as though some questions regarding Golovkin could be answered because it appeared likely that Ishida would be able to extend Golovkin into the middle or even late rounds. 

In his previous twelve bouts leading up to this fight Golovkin had only been stretched as far as the tenth round once, in his fight against former Jr. Middleweight world champion Kassim Ouma in 2011.  It interested this observer to see whether or not Ishida could deal with Golovkin’s come forward, pressure style and find a way to nullify Golovkin’s power. 

One might argue that what worked against Ishida in his fights against Williams and Pirog was that he allowed both fighters to outwork him.  There were periods in both fights where Ishida would be on the defensive and elect to stand in front of his opponents and not let his hands go. This allowed both Williams and Pirog to win some close rounds by landing combinations.  I wondered going into this fight if Ishida would look to utilize his jab and box from the outside using lateral movement to avoid being a stationary target for Golovkin.  It was clear in my mind that Ishida could not stand in front of Golovkin and be successful. He had to be illusive in order to have a chance for success. 

When the fighters entered the ring at the Salle des etoiles in Monte Carlo, Monaco Ishida attempted to control distance behind his jab in the first round and had periodic success landing it.  It was Golovkin however who was able to slip the majority of Ishida’s offense with precision head movement while coming forward behind his own jab.  It was clear in the opening round that Golovkin’s jab had more power as it was able to snap the head of Ishida back whenever it landed. 

In the second round Golovkin began to open up more landing uppercuts, right hands, and left hooks.  Ishida did not have an answer for the power of Golovkin but most troublesome he had no answer to avoid Golovkin’s offense.  By this point in the fight Ishida was in a defensive mode it was clear that Ishida could not provide the test for the champion that many observers, this one included thought he might have been capable. 

Golovkin brought the fight to a sudden and dramatic conclusion in round three landing a perfectly timed overhand right flush on the jaw of a back peddling Ishida knocking the challenger out cold and halfway out of the ring. Referee Stanley Christodoulou immediately stopped the fight. 

There are likely to be some who will look at this latest knockout by Golovkin from a skeptical point of view by simply saying that he faced a fighter who really couldn’t offer much resistance and that Golovkin needs to face more serious opposition. Let’s examine things from a statistical perspective. 

Gennady Golovkin not only scored his thirteenth consecutive knockout by knocking out Nobuhiro Ishida but he had also knocked out a man who had never been stopped in thirty-four previous bouts. From an entertainment standpoint it is hard to argue that Golovkin’s knockout of Ishida is not a candidate for Knockout of the year.  Although skeptics may remain it is clear that Gennady Golovkin has proven that he belongs in the discussion of not only the top Middleweights but also Boxing’s mythic pound for pound debates. 

Is Golovkin on a collision course with Sergio Martinez?  There is no doubt that a potential fight between the two world champions is certainly mouth watering and likely to garner significant interest and would be a solid pay-per-view draw if and when the fight is made.  In the immediate future however it may be more likely to see Golovkin defend his title against top contenders like former two-time Middleweight world champion Felix Sturm, former champion Dmitry Pirog, Matthew Macklin, and even potential unification bouts against current IBF champion Daniel Geale and WBO champion Peter Quillin.

As for Sergio Martinez, he will next defend his title on April 27th in his native Argentina against top Middleweight contender Martin Murray.  Depending on the outcome of that fight one may be justified to assume that Martinez would likely look to face former WBC champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. the man  Martinez beat in September of last year to regain his world title.  If that is indeed the plan for Martinez should he successfully defend his title against Martin Murray, it would be hard to blame Martinez for seeking what is likely to be a very lucrative rematch. 

Although Sergio Martinez may not be in his immediate future, there are certainly plenty of options of the table for Gennady Golovkin.  If Golovkin continues to win or more specifically continues to win by destroying any and all challengers put before him; the demand for him to face Martinez assuming Martinez continues to win will only increase. 

Martinez is a boxer and a southpaw. In his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Martinez clearly out boxed Chavez and was able to evade Chavez’ pressure and power for the first ten rounds.  In rounds eleven and twelve Chavez was able to hurt Martinez and knocked him down in the final round. If the fight was scheduled for fifteen rounds, the outcome may have been different.

 Chavez is a fighter who moves forward with his head to get on the inside, Golovkin moves forward with a punch.  Martinez would be put in a position to defend against the punch of Golovkin rather than stick and move to evade as he was able to do against Chavez. As we all know, anything can happen in the sport of Boxing.  It remains to be seen if Martinez and Golovkin will meet. Who would win?  Anything is possible.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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