On October 17th the spotlight of the sport of Boxing centered on a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY to see the highly anticipated World Middleweight championship unification clash between undefeated WBA/IBO world champion Gennady Golovkin and IBF world champion David Lemieux. Beyond the fight serving a purpose in further unifying the Middleweight division, what made this encounter so interesting was the fact that it was a battle between two knockout artists.
Prior to this fight, this observer stated that it would not surprise me to see a tactical battle initially. Both fighters do indeed have one punch knockout power in either hand and it is certainly understandable given each fighter’s extremely high career knockout percentages of 91% and 86% respectively that either may have been wary of the other.
Although many anticipated a “Shootout” between the two, what happened instead was a demonstration of one fighter’s overall skill and superiority over his opposition. Despite entering the fight with a career knockout percentage of 91% and having knocked out his previous twenty opponents, Gennady Golovkin showed in this fight that he is much more than a mere power puncher.
The story of this fight was Golovkin’s ability to dictate and dominate the combat with a consistent jab, lateral movement and ability to mix in combinations with both hands. Golovkin was able to keep Lemieux at distance and frequently make him miss. Although Lemieux did have some success landing solid punches periodically throughout this fight, anything he did land Golovkin immediately had an answer for, while Lemieux could not find a way to avoid Golovkin’s jab.
Even though it was clear that Golovkin was dominating the fight as it progressed, an element of controversy would emerge in the closing seconds of round five. Golovkin was able to knock Lemieux down with a flush left hook to the body. As Lemieux absorbed the punch and seemed to have a delayed reaction before going down, Golovkin would land a right hand to Lemieux’s head after he had taken a knee.
Although there have been times throughout the history of the sport where fighters have been disqualified for hitting a downed opponent regardless of whether it was intentional or not, there would be no penalty against Golovkin. Despite the fact that some fighters have been disqualified under similar circumstances, this observer believes that it was an unintentional foul and the decision to not at minimum deduct a point from Golovkin or to enforce a more severe ruling simply comes down to a referee’s discretion.
The mild controversy notwithstanding, what should be applauded is the heart that David Lemieux showed by not only getting up from a body shot that would have ended the night for most fighters, but continuing to fight on. Although Lemieux, who was making the first defense of his IBF world championship, was very “Game” as some previous Golovkin opponents have been in their respective challenges of his unified world championship, he simply could not find a way to turn the fight in his favor.
After Lemieux sustained significant punishment at the hands of Golovkin throughout the entire bout, the fight was stopped in the eighth round. For Gennady Golovkin, it was a near perfect performance against a very dangerous opponent in David Lemieux. Along with unifying his WBA/IBO world championship with Lemieux’s IBF world championship, the victory extended Golovkin’s knockout streak to twenty-one in what was his fifteenth successful title defense.
Golovkin is now five successful defenses away from tying the all-time record for successful World Middleweight championship defenses of twenty, which was set by Bernard Hopkins from 1995-2005. Coming out of this fight an interesting question that some Boxing fans and experts alike might be asking is did the victory over Lemieux clearly establish Golovkin as the number one fighter in the Middleweight division? Although Miguel Cotto, the current WBC world champion is considered to be the number one fighter in the division due to his dominating championship victory over former world champion Sergio Martinez, the man previously considered to be the top fighter in the division last year, it is hard to argue against Golovkin’s statistics.
Golovkin is clearly the most active of the three world champions currently in the division over Cotto and WBO world champion Andy Lee. After fifteen successful title defenses and twenty-one consecutive knockouts, this observer believes Golovkin is the top fighter in the division and it will be up to Cotto, Lee, or a top contender to dethrone Golovkin’s position atop the division.
As has been the case after virtually every Gennady Golovkin championship defense, the question remains. Who can provide the unified world champion with a significant test? Although some believed that David Lemieux was arguably the biggest threat to Golovkin in terms of his ability to end a fight with one punch, he was unable to provide Golovkin with a test and that can be attributed to the systematic fight plan that Golovkin implemented.
In terms of what is next for Gennady Golovkin, this observer believes the most logical option would be for him to face the winner of the upcoming WBC Middleweight world championship fight between Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez. Although Golovkin will likely have to fulfill obligations with regard to meeting mandatory challengers as determined by the WBA, IBO, and IBF in the near future, he has earned the opportunity to show what he can do against a fighter who is considered a superstar in the sport. No matter who wins between Cotto and Alvarez in November, both fighters are superstars and certainly fit the criteria of a fighter who can theoretically test Golovkin.
After fifteen successful title defenses, twenty-one consecutive knockouts, and as he continues to systematically clean out the Middleweight division much in the same way as Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins did before him as dominant world champions, it is time for this dominant world champion Gennady Golovkin to face a marquee star of the sport. Whether or not Golovkin will get the opportunity he has earned remains to be seen.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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