Thursday, November 7, 2013

What's Next For Gennady Golovkin?

When a fighter comes along and emerges on the Boxing scene with an exciting and aggressive style which produces several knockouts in a devastating manner, questions tend to be asked about their stamina as a fight progresses and more specifically who may be able to stand up to their power. Those questions were asked by some leading up to undefeated unified WBA/IBO Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s title defense against top contender Curtis Stevens on November 2nd at Madison Square Garden.

Although Stevens in his own right had scored knockouts in three of his last four fights heading into his fight with Golovkin, there were some who did not believe Stevens had much of a chance of derailing the champion. This belief was of course influenced by Golovkin’s knockout streak of fourteen consecutive knockouts and a 100% knockout ratio in Middleweight championship fights and a nearly 90% career knockout ratio overall. Statistics that are hard to ignore and are likely to be viewed as intimidating for any would be opponents in the eyes of most observers.

Stevens however, was not intimidated by those statistics or Golovkin’s recent knockouts. It was clear that the challenger had come to fight when the contest got underway. Stevens was able to establish head movement and was able to land punches using his speed. Stevens’ speed did seem to cause the champion problems periodically. Some of the other questions that are often asked of knockout punchers in addition to how their stamina will be affected as a fight progresses are how will they deal with fighters who are quick handed and what psychological effect if any will they go through if they are able to land their best punches yet the opponents continue to come forward.

To a certain extent in this fight those questions were asked of Golovkin. Not only did the challenger display hand speed in this fight, but also showed his mettle as well. Golovkin was able to drop Stevens to the canvas in the second round by landing two left hooks that appeared to shock the challenger. In circumstances where fighters can crumble after feeling the power of a devastating puncher, Stevens continued to attempt to bring the fight to the champion. The most memorable moment in this fight for the challenger came in the final minute of round four when he was able to fight off the ropes and back the champion up landing punches with both hands.

The consistent pressure and attack of the champion however, began to take a toll on Stevens. The effects of the punishment dished out by Golovkin gradually broke Stevens down. It was not only Golovkin’s ability to get off first consistently, but mainly the difference in punching power that was the difference in this fight. The bout was stopped at the end of the eighth round by Stevens’ uncle and trainer Andre Rozier. Gennady Golovkin had scored his fifteenth consecutive knockout and successfully defended his Middleweight championship for the ninth time.

In the opinion of this observer the stoppage of this fight by Andre Rozier was the appropriate decision. It is important to remember that the safety of a fighter should always come first and foremost. On the undercard of Golovkin-Stevens an exciting Heavyweight bout took place between undefeated contenders Mike Perez and Magomed Abdusalamov. In a grueling back and forth battle, Perez was able to earn a ten round unanimous decision in what could be considered one of the better Heavyweight fights in recent memory in the eyes of many observers. 

As exciting as that fight was however, it is important for all observers to remember the physical toll that fighters can suffer. During that fight Abdusalamov sustained several injuries including sustaining an injury to his brain which required surgery to remove a blood clot and also the removal of part of his skull to reduce swelling. Abdusalamov also suffered a stroke while being in a medically induced coma in the days following the fight.  The “Game” Heavyweight contender Abdusalamov remains in a medically induced coma as of this writing.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Abdusalamov and his family.

Although part of the appeal of the sport of Boxing is the anticipation of seeing an action packed fight between two warriors, the fighters’ safety should always be the main priority above all. Curtis Stevens gave everything he had against Gennady Golovkin and deserves all the credit for the valiant effort he put forth. Stevens however, did take a lot of punishment throughout this fight and his uncle Andre Rozier should be applauded for making the appropriate call in stopping the fight when he did. You never want to see a fighter take one punch too many. Stevens has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of coming out of this fight and could very well remain in the Middleweight championship picture off of this performance.

As for Gennady Golovkin, it is likely to assume that many would want to see him in a unification bout with current WBC champion Sergio Martinez sometime in 2014. There are however, other options on the table for Golovkin if a fight with Martinez does not come to fruition. The obvious two options are either a unification fight with WBO champion Peter Quillin, or the winner of the upcoming IBF championship fight between champion Darren Barker and former longtime Middleweight champion Felix Sturm. Fights however, with top contenders Martin Murray, who lost a close decision to Sergio Martinez earlier this year and former IBF Middleweight champion Daniel Geale could also be considered. Both Murray and Geale are currently ranked number one and two respectively in the WBA’s Middleweight ratings. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the WBA might mandate Golovkin to face either Murray or Geale down the line.

No matter what route Gennady Golovkin chooses to take next, one thing is clear. With fifteen consecutive knockouts, nine successful title defenses, and four victories in 2013, Gennady Golovkin has emerged as a legitimate star of the sport of Boxing. As his star continues to rise Golovkin will continue to garner attention. No matter who he fights next the Boxing world will surely be watching.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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