Killian Down predicts Gennady Golovkin to be the prophet of a new era of boxing
It is not often that professional boxing breaches the back page of the newspaper, nor indeed graces the leaves of Motley. As a sport firmly in the ‘minority sport’ category, it takes a fight or fighter of momentous importance to break into the mainstream media consciousness; at least in any meaningful way. Cue Mayweather v Pacquiao.
Dubbed by the fight-spinners on high as the “Fight of the Century”, rumours of a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao teased and toyed with sports fans for five years before the scrap finally came to fruition on May 2nd of this year. The foreplay had us panting, the act left us underwhelmed. Following a trademark Mayweather shut-out, the casual fan returned to their normal sporting interests while the ‘hardcore’ boxing fans bemoaned a wasted opportunity to reel in potential boxing pledges. Normality had resumed.
In the aftermath of the “Shite of the Century”, the boxing community couldn’t help but collectively chuckle at ourselves. Like a divorcé revisiting his wedding vows, we laughed a deep, resounding laugh as if to say, “how could we have been so naïve?” We knew Santa Claus didn’t exist but we still wrote the letter, just hoping that somehow Manny Pacquiao really did have the secret formula to penetrate Floyd’s defence and that he really could win, that we weren’t just buying into the hype like schmucks.
Of course, schmucks we were and Mr. Mayweather has since gone on to seal his 49th win as a professional, retire, and now spends his time cleaning oil from baby seals and reading poetry to the elderly. Thus boxing has begun its search for the heir to the Mayweather throne, and with it a fighter explosive and exciting enough to command the attention of the casual fan.
Enter stage right, Gennady Golovkin. By the time this edition of Motley goes to press, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin will have knocked out the Canadian powerhouse David Lemieux in front of a crammed Madison Square Garden on Saturday, October 18th. It will have been his 31st knockout in 34 fights, giving him an unprecedented 91.18% knockout ratio as a prizefighter. And with that scalp, he will confirm his candidacy as the new global face of the sport. Alternatively, he will have embarrassed me in front of our entire readership and I will be demoted to deputy pencil sharpener.
GGG is primarily known for his devilish power, an attribute that lies in hiding beneath a frame often noticeably less intimidating than that of his counterparts, as will be the case with David Lemieux. This devastating power inevitably spawns thrilling knockouts and stoppages, precisely what boxing fans, and crucially casual fans, want to see. Indeed this was the case in Golovkin’s last outing back in May against Willie Monroe Jr., who got an up-close inspection of the fight sponsors’ canvas advertisements twice in the second round, before bowing out in the sixth having faced overwhelming pressure and a consistent flow of power punches from GGG.
Golovkin is more than just your run-of the-mill power-puncher, however. We need only look to his display against Monroe once more for confirmation of his class. Despite facing a resurgence and increased punch output from the southpaw in the third and fourth round, it remained obvious that the serene Golovkin would eventually stalk his opponent down and, with his superb selection, finish the bout whether it be through suffocatingly powerful body shots as witnessed in his February clash with Britain’s Martin Murray, or shots to the head which led to Monroe’s eventual downfall.
It is not just the air of inevitability that informs the Kazakh fighter’s performances that makes watching him so exciting though, it’s the fact that there appears to be (admittedly small) chinks in his armour. If a fighter seems to be invincible, like Floyd Mayweather, their fights naturally develop a tediousness. While no fighter has come anywhere near defeating Golovkin in his current 20 knockout run, he did take a lot of punches from Monroe at times. Despite the result of the fight, one could not help but wonder would a more powerful counterpart such as junior-middleweight “Canelo” Alvarez or fellow middleweight Lemieux be able to punish Golovkin for his tendency to take more shots than he perhaps should.
This is precisely why I predict the Lemieux bout will have made for top matchmaking: either, as I suggest, Golovkin will have shored up his defences and obliterated Lemieux, or GGG’s blithe attitude to incoming bombs will have proved to be his fatal flaw. (I have neglected to underline just how powerful Lemieux is, he himself having won 31 of his 36 bouts by way of knockout.)
It is this potential for disaster, in part, which makes GGG such a draw and the ideal candidate for the vacant mantle of boxing’s biggest draw. You see, the hard-hitting Kazakh appears keen to buck the worrying trend in modern boxing of hand-picking opponents and the tactical avoidances of threats. This is a habit which Mayweather himself has been accused of on many occasions, his final outing against the relatively unknown Andre Berto being the perfect example. In contrast, Golovkin seems to have a voracious appetite at the prospect of fighting the sport’s best. Should he have emerged victorious against Lemieux, we are told he will lie in wait for the winner of the gargantuan November contest between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and the lineal middleweight champion Miguel Cotto.
This is a potentiality that will please Golovkin no end, who called out both fighters with a perturbingly enthusiastic smile in his post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman back in May. If GGG-Lemieux has failed to grab the sporting media by the collar and demand attention, then a winner-takes-all world championship bout against either the fiery Canelo Alvarez or Puerto Rican folk hero Miguel Cotto would surely command the world’s gaze. Whatever his audience, one thing is clear: there will be no ducking of fights by Gennady Golovkin, for it seems the only movement he knows is bulldozing. Whether his movements will extend to transcending the sport remains to be seen.