One of the very few who does combine world class class skills with frightening power is Kazakhstan's Gennady Golovkin (29-0, 26), AKA "GGG". Golvokin has been the long reining WBA Middleweight champion and although he has looked sensational in wiping out swatches of the Middleweight division many do question how he copes when he fights a championship level fighter. In fact many deride his competition as not just second rate but third rate, a harsh criticism when the opposition has included European champions, former title contenders and even a former world champion, albeit at a lower weight.
This weekend's fight however sees Golvokin facing a genuine world class fighter in the former of former unified IBF and WBA Middleweight champion Daniel Geale (30-2, 16).
Geale is a fighter who has proven his value with notable wins over the likes of Roman Karmazin, Sebastian Sylvester, Felix Sturm and Anthony Mundine, all of whom were world champions. He may not possess thundering power but he's skilled, very hard working and refuses to just lose, in fact both of his losses have been controversial with many feeling he got the bad end of split decisions. When you consider his career so far he's unfortunate not to be 32-0 and still a double world champion.
For Golovkin this is a clear step up in opposition. For the first time in his career he's facing an indisputable world class opponent at the weight that suits them. Despite this "step up" from the likes of Osamu Adama, Gabriel Rosada and Curtis Stevens we still don't see Golovkin really being tested, and it's a view shared by many, including the bookies who have "GGG" as a clear favourite.
For Geale to win he will have to out work Golovkin and to do that he will need to get inside the Kazakh. There are three problems there for Geale. The first is getting inside of Golovkin, a feat that often looks nigh on impossible despite the fact that Golovkin is often happy to apply constant calculated pressure. The second problem is working on the inside with out being tagged whilst he's there, sadly for the challenger he will need to avoid the power of the champion on the inside just as much as he will coming in. And thirdly Geale will need to get back out of range with out being tagged, a feat that is difficult even with footwork as good Geale's.
From Golovkin we're expecting the usual tactics that he uses to great effect. The first part of that is his constant pressure, whether he throws a lot or not his pressure can take an effect, this was shown in his fight with Makoto Fuchigami. In that fight Golovkin threw next to nothing in the opening round but applied so much pressure that Fuchigami was already crumbling at the end of the round and through the following rounds Golovkin slowly amped up the output. What allows Golvokin to apply so much pressure is his exceptional footwork and understanding of distance both of which are under-rated skills that he has down to a tee. As well as the pressure Golovkin will also be looking to utilise his excellent shot selection and heavy hands. Every shot of Golovkin's hurts. His jab is like a ram rod, his straight is concussive, and his shots on the inside are utterly destructive.
Whilst we would like to pretend that we will see Golovkin actually tested here we really don't see anything but a stoppage victory for the champion who is hunting his 17th successive stoppage, a truly remarkable number!
Hopefully a win here will be followed by Golovkin fighting against another top Middleweight. A bout with Miguel Cotto would be top of the list though bouts with Sam Soliman or Martin Murray would certainly be acceptable fights given their standing in the division. It seems however that Golovkin himself wants either Cotto or Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and we wouldn't complain if it did end up being Canelo next time out.
(Image courtesy of thegarden.com)