Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gennady Golovkin's Path Of Destruction Continues

Undefeated unified WBA/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin’s emergence on Boxing’s center stage could be described in several ways.  By now many fans know that Golovkin a native of Kazakhstan burst on the American scene nearly one year ago scoring brutal knockout wins in title defenses over contenders Grzegorz Proksa and Gabriel Rosado.

Due to both his exciting pressure style and the devastating fashion in which Golovkin won those fights an argument could be made that he became an instant star here in the United States.  It would indeed be hard to dispute such an opinion because after all, the one thing in the sport of Boxing that will always garner significant attention of fans and experts alike is the ability to score knockouts.

Golovkin continued to turn heads when he scored a brutal one punch third round knockout over Japanese contender Nobuhiro Ishida in March of this year in Monte Carlo, Monaco.  Ishida who is best known to American fans for his first round upset knockout victory over a then undefeated rising prospect James Kirkland. Ishida was considered by some to be a step up for Golovkin due to his “Game” performances in losses to former Welterweight world champion Paul Williams and former WBO Middleweight world champion Dmitry Pirog. 

Ishida had also never been stopped prior to getting in the ring with Golovkin. Questions arose as to whether or not Ishida could extend the fight into the middle or late rounds against Golovkin who has a near 90% career knockout percentage and who had been stretched as far as ten rounds only once in his career. 

It was clear however once the fight began that Ishida not only had no way to nullify Golovkin’s power as he came forward but also could not avoid Golovkin’s offense.  The fight was immediately stopped after a beautifully timed overhand right landed flush on Ishida’s jaw knocking him out cold in what this observer considers to be the leading candidate for 2013 Knockout of the Year honors.

Off of yet another devastating performance, Golovkin would now make the eighth defense of his Middleweight world title against top contender and former world title challenger Matthew Macklin on June 29th in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Much as the belief of many observers, this one included was before Golovkin’s fight with Nobuhiro Ishida in thinking that Ishida may have been capable of providing a significant test for Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin was viewed as a step up in class of opposition for the champion.  

Macklin entered this bout having lost two of his last three fights however Macklin had endeared himself to fans and experts alike as someone who is very “Game” and who like Golovkin has an exciting come forward style. Macklin’s style gave Sergio Martinez, the man considered to be the number one fighter in the Middleweight division all he could handle for eleven rounds in their fight in March of last year.

Macklin retained his position as a top contender by rebounding from his loss to Martinez in scoring a first round knockout over former WBA Jr. Middleweight world champion Joachim Alcine in September of last year. Prior to Golovkin’s fight with Nobuhiro Ishida, I wondered whether or not Macklin could take this fight into the middle or late rounds and whether he would be able to survive the storm that is Gennady Golovkin.  Although I had no doubt that Macklin would give it everything he had for how ever long the fight would last, questions of whether or not he could withstand Golovkin’s power were legitimate.

When the fight got underway Macklin was able to establish his jab from the outset but what was noticeable was how Gennady Golovkin’s pressure was disrupting Macklin from getting into a rhythm. Golovkin’s ability to systematically cut the ring off and to gradually let his hands go set the tempo for this fight.

The difference in power was apparent as Golovkin rocked Macklin back into the ropes in the final seconds of the first round with a left hook.  The champion continued to pressure Macklin who seemed to be in survival mode in the second round.  Although Macklin continued to throw punches he was not able to land anything to stop Golovkin as he continued to stalk forward.  Macklin however gamely tried to press the action early in the third round but was unable keep the champion off of him. 

Golovkin brought the fight to it’s conclusion landing a brutal left hook to Macklin’s body sending him down for the count at 1:22 of round three.  Golovkin’s domination of a legitimate top ten Middleweight contender in Matthew Macklin continues to indicate that we may be seeing the dawning of a new era in the Middleweight division. 

Off of this latest performance it is difficult to say what may next be in store for Gennady Golovkin.  The current landscape of the Middleweight division suggests that it may take some time for Golovkin to secure a potential big money bout which would hopefully bring further unification to the World Middleweight championship.

Current International Boxing Federation (IBF) Middleweight world champion Daniel Geale is scheduled to make the fifth defense of his title against top contender Darren Barker on August 17th. Depending on what happens in that fight and the possibility of the winner of that fight being mandated to fight another top contender, it seems that a potential unification would be out of the question at least in the near future. 

There are also other elements which may prevent Golovkin from securing big money fights with the other world champions of the division.  Current WBC champion Sergio Martinez is sidelined with a hand injury.  The World Boxing Council (WBC) announced last week that they will stage a four boxer elimination tournament to determine interim status in it’s Middleweight ratings. 

Obviously once Martinez is medically cleared to compete one would assume that he would be mandated by the WBC to defend his title against whomever emerges from this would be elimination tournament as the mandatory challenger.  This could pose a roadblock for a potential clash between the two world champions. 

There is a possibility that Golovkin could potentially secure a fight with undefeated WBO Middleweight world champion Peter Quillin, if a fight between the winner of Daniel Geale and Darren Barker is not made.  What may be an obstacle in that fight being made however are elements of the “Business” of Boxing with respected promoters having agreements with rival television networks.

  It would however benefit both world champions if circumstances allow a fight to be made. Not only would potential further unification of the Middleweight championship be at stake but a fight between two undefeated world champions, both in their primes, both with exciting styles, would likely present significant financial incentives for both fighters if a fight between the two could be made.

With the Middleweight championship picture pretty much set at least in the near future what about the respected top contenders of the division who would likely welcome the opportunity to fight Golovkin for his unified world title?  As of this writing the WBC has not formally announced which four top contenders will take part in their elimination tournament to determine a mandatory challenger for Sergio Martinez. 

From a speculation standpoint one could assume that a fighter such as former WBC world champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. would be likely to take part in such a tournament concept. Chavez not only is a former WBC champion in the Middleweight division but if he were to emerge with interim status out of an elimination tournament it would almost guarantee a rematch with Martinez, the man who beat Chavez for the WBC title in September of last year.

Although Chavez does not currently hold a world title there is no disputing Chavez’ economic value to potential opponents in or around the Middleweight division.  If Chavez were not involved in the WBC box off, it would present a potential big money opportunity for Golovkin to seek a fight with Chavez which would likely be a solid pay-per-view draw.

In the eyes of this observer however it would benefit Golovkin in the long term to continue to defend his title against all comers. Fighters such as Martin Murray, former longtime champion Felix Sturm, and Andy Lee are all potential options for Golovkin. 

All three are still very much in the mix and would each pose an interesting challenge for Golovkin. One would assume however that we will get a clearer picture as to what Gennady Golovkin’s potential options are once the Daniel Geale-Darren Barker fight takes place and furthermore once the WBC announces just who will participate in their box off.

The situation that Gennady Golovkin finds himself in sort of reminds the observer of the position the legendary former Middleweight champion of the world Marvelous Marvin Hagler once found himself in. An obvious similarity between the two champions is they both started their respected reigns at the top of the Middleweight division with devastating knockout streaks. 

After winning the Middleweight championship by knocking out Alan Minter in 1980, Hagler went on a tear through the Middleweight division scoring seven consecutive knockouts between 1981 and 1983. Only Roberto Duran was able to go the distance with Hagler in November 1983.  Hagler’s reign as Middleweight champion of the world became one of the more significant title reigns in the history of the Middleweight division compiling twelve successful title defenses  over the course of seven years between 1980-1987.

Currently Gennedy Golovkin has scored knockouts in his last fourteen fights with eight successful title defenses since beginning his reign in 2010. Perhaps one other similarity may exist between Hagler and Golovkin.  One could make a valid argument that Hagler literally had to destroy all comers in the Middleweight division before he was able to secure super fights with fellow superstars of his era, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard.

With the other champions of the current Middleweight division seemingly with other options one could say that Gennady Golovkin may be in the process of doing what Hagler was able to accomplish over three decades ago.  Will Gennady Golovkin’s reign atop the Middleweight division one day be compared to the reigns of Hagler, Carlos Monzon, and Bernard Hopkins?

Only time will tell but if Golovkin continues to run through the Middleweight division like a title wave it will become increasingly harder for fans and experts alike to not anoint Golovkin as the kingpin of the Middleweight division.  With the Middleweight division clearly heading toward a transitional period with Sergio Martinez possibly nearing the end of his career this observer believes that “The Gennady Golovkin Era” may indeed be quite near.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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