Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin, the undefeated Kazakhstan-born boxer known to most simply as GGG, has proven himself to be one of the sport’s breakout stars over the last 18 months. He might not be a mainstream name like Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao yet, but he’s got the time and the ability to change that. At 33-0 with 30 knockouts (a record-breaking percentage in the super middleweight division), he has come to prominence following some big victories that have continued to showcase what he is about.
‘Triple G’ moves forward with aggressive combinations and has the power to make them count. Decisively, though, he also has the chin to carry it with confidence. Where many fighters tread carefully, you’ll rarely see Golovkin moving backwards and he had a defensive prowess that is underrated because of his penchant for decimating chins. He is already the favourite fighter for the purists and has been for years. The wider audience are now paying more attention than ever, particularly when marketable and exciting champions in other divisions seem to be wearing thin.
He doesn’t command hundreds of millions to effectively block, weave and counter his way to decision victories. Although he’ll no longer be fighting for peanuts, he still fights like it’s for that last scrap of food to feed his family. It is with conviction and ferocity, although his demeanour outside the ring is very different. When he laces up the gloves he becomes a nightmare for almost any man on the planet and there’s a reason why nobody has managed to see the final bell in his presence since 2008.
One of the bravest stints came from the UK’s Martin Murray who was eventually broken down in the 11th round of their Monte Carlo clash in February. Those 11 rounds were the furthest anybody had taken the Kazakhstan pugilist, with his previous decision victories (seven and eight years ago, respectively) fought over eight rounds in the earlier portion of his career. It’s telling how highly regarded GGG is when somebody seeing the penultimate round was applauded so highly.
The fight itself was more telling than the stats, however. Murray’s courageous efforts earned him respect but it was never anything other than a controlling performance for his opponent. Surprising people with your durability doesn’t mean at any point you were winning a fight, and Murray had to get through some tough spots to reach as far as he did. He was sent to the canvas twice in round four and again in round ten, with the referee finally calling a halt to the action when a standing Murray was deemed to have taken too many unanswered shots. The rugged Englishman would have carried on but the empathy came at the right time as the accumulation of damage was getting too much.
Golovkin was able to showcase some more of his attributes thanks to the sturdy chin of his adversary. He showed great composure, a full gas tank and the ability to carry his power through into the later rounds where we had not had the chance to see him operate. Even more impressive was the continued work rate. He didn’t slow or falter. He stuck to the task diligently and worked just as hard for the finish in the 11th as he did in the first. That in itself is a scary prospect for any prospective opponent and that is one of the reasons why the queue of people signing up to fight him isn’t very long.
Willie Monroe was one of a brave few to step up to the plate but he was ultimately overmatched when the pair met recently. After being dropped to the canvas twice in round two there seemed to be no hope at all for the American. His spirit came to bear after that, though. When many had sternly ruled him out already, he managed to land some good hooks that got the champion’s attention. Again, it showed just how granite-jawed he is as he took the punishment and looked totally unfazed.
Despite some glimpses of return fire from Monroe, it was another fairly straightforward performance for Golovkin, making a decent opponent look very average. Monroe’s best success came when Golovkin appeared to be goading him on, just asking for him to give him his best shot. Post-fight, he admitted that it was because he wanted a ‘dramatic show’. Given that he’s not known for boasting or arrogance, you can’t pass it off as an excuse like you would with many others. For any prospective opponent it is a scary thought as it shows how much he could toy with a fighter of Monroe’s level, and therefore the chasm between them. It has left people asking questions about the type of fighter he should be facing.
With that victory, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin retains his WBA Super World middleweight title against Willie Monroe Jr. pic.twitter.com/BlYh8DnMpk
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 17, 2015
One name that has been continually brought into that mix was Carl Froch, and recently that’s looked like more of a reality. Froch is on the hunt for a huge final fight to wave goodbye to a great career in the ring. He was toying with the idea of retiring without that final bout but it looks increasingly likely that he might be convinced for such a huge spectacle. It wouldn’t be an easy way to go out so you have to admire the fact that the Nottingham man might be willing to take it on when he could just as easily ride off into the sunset with an easy win. That’s not his style, though, and that’s why the fans have always had admiration for him.
Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, admitted that it wasn’t a ‘sensible’ fight by any means, but it had piqued his interest.
On the flip side, another fighter edging closer and closer to (a very comfortable) retirement is Floyd Mayweather Jr. The best boxer on the planet and undefeated at 48-0, he just smashed all records with a huge PPV bout with Manny Pacquiao. It was not a classic but Mayweather proved his ability. He has said he has one more fight left before he hangs up his gloves and nobody knows who that is just yet, although odds makers such as betfair will be weighing up odds for a potential showdown with Amir Khan. With nothing signed and sealed on that front, it could feasibly leave the door open to a bout with Golovkin and that would market itself.
Two undefeated fighters who have been dominant against every opponent they’ve faced, but with vastly different styles and methods of victory. GGG has put it on record that it is the fight he wants and he would drop down to 154lbs to make it happen. “It is my dream fight,” he confessed, but the likelihood of it happening is extremely slim.
Over the course of his career, Mayweather has had a reputation for picking the right fights at the right time. This is a business after all, and the business pays better when you still have a zero on your record. Mayweather has made his name off it. It hasn’t really endeared him to the fans in the way some of the greats of old did, though. They see him fighting smaller opponents or waiting around for their primes to pass them by. He does have a stellar list of opponents on his C.V. but you could look at each one and pick several reasons why the proceedings were manipulated in his favour.
Mayweather holds the key to the enormous sums of money so he gets to pull the strings. When he is so precious about his undefeated record and leaving the glittering career as ‘the best’, it’s hard to imagine he would change the habit of a lifetime by facing a fighter such as Golovkin. A bigger man who hits hard and has momentum, whilst bringing excellent technical abilities to the table to go with his insane power. Khan would be a much safer option whilst still holding some credibility, albeit not the same amount.
Former Golovkin opponent Martin Murray was confident in saying that Mayweather would never take that fight, citing “too much of a risk” for Pretty Boy Floyd’s retirement bout. Everybody seems to agree, although they still live in hope. Would it not be the mark of a true all-time great if Floyd did bite the bullet and really move on up the weight classes to take on the toughest test available? He is quick to deride people who cite the likes of Sugar Ray, Ali and Duran ahead of him. ‘But they’ve lost’ he says, which shows just how much he clings on to that statistic, despite a deeper look revealing much more.
While we’d all love to see Mayweather meet Golovkin at 154lbs, we can reasonably assume that it won’t happen, so again one of the best bouts we can hope for would be with Froch. As a come-forward kind of fighter with power and the ability to take a dig, stylistically it would be an excellent matchup while it lasted. Froch gets hit a lot which doesn’t bode well when you’re facing a true puncher, although he’d be keen to tell you of the times he’s turned it on in big fight situations. Knocking George Groves out in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley, anyone?
Golovkin’s own promoter said that contact has been made and things are being discussed on both sides, priming a 168lbs bout with “The Cobra”. As it stands, it is the only real viable option on the table that we can see. The number of people who currently seem willing to throw down with Golovkin appears to be one. He is on the cusp of breaking through the barrier in popular consciousness and he needs big fights to do that, something he is struggling to find elsewhere.
Miguel Cotto is very quiet on that front, Saul Alvarez needs time. Peter Quillin and Andy Lee are well ranked opponents but without any real drawing power, thus not bringing what is needed to the table (if they’d agree to it anyway). We’re not seeing any of the other super middleweights stepping forward either. He might still look fresh and feel new to the boxing audience, but approaching his mid-30s Gennady Golovkin needs to start thinking about his legacy and finding the fights with the right profile to lift him up. It’s no longer good enough to be knocking out relative unknowns when you are trying to make your impact on a wider scale.
At the same time, it’s easy to imagine how frustrating it must be in his camp. It is hard to believe that he would turn down anyone. He is one of the remaining remnants of true fighters who epitomise the noble aspect of a very demanding sport. For the same reason more people like Manny Pacquiao than Floyd Mayweather, being willing to put it on the line in bouts that are stacked against you does win over the fans. GGG just can’t seem to find them, or find willing opponents at least.
He is right there. Greatness is on the horizon. A greatness that can cross over to the mainstream. When you’re vicious in the ring but humble outside of it, people like that. We’ve got enough outsized personalities and arrogance. It would be refreshing for a down-to-earth man like Golovkin to be the one people are tuning in to watch in their millions. He is good for boxing in style and substance. It might come down to Carl Froch to serve as a springboard but it would be criminal if politics and fear keep Triple G out of the fights he wants and deserves. It might be today’s boxing game, but it’s not how we want it. It’s not how Gennady wants it.