This coming Saturday we'll see one of the biggest fights of 2018, as we get the long awaited rematch between Kazakh Middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 34) and Mexican boxing superstar Saul Alvarez (49-1-2, 34). The rematch comes a year after their highly controversial draw, which saw Golovkin retain the WBA “super”, WBC and IBF Middleweight titles whilst also continuing his unbeaten run. It also saw “Canelo” Alvarez face criticism for his style and for favourable judging, especially from Adalaide Byrd who had him winning 118-110.
This rematch was supposed to take place back in May, though was cancelled at short notice when Alvarez tested positive for Clenbuterol. Although the Mexican blamed food, specifically beef, for the positive test it does seem like he's not taken responsibility for his actions, something that has continued to anger the Golovkin team. On the flipside of that however is Golovkin's trainer Abel Sanchez making various accusations about Canelo, including mentioning a suspect wrapping technique.
Although the two men went into the first bout with a lot of respect for each other it does seem like this rematch will be fought will less respect and more emotion. Both men seem to have a genuine dislike of the other, their fan bases and their teams. There is still some mutual respect of the other's ability, but as people it's clear the two will be on each other's Christmas card list in December. Despite their animosity we're expecting to see both men put in a calculated performance as they look to improve on what they did last time out, and take home a victory here.
In their first bout the heavy handed Golovkin took centre ring, he backed up Canelo and seemed to be the clear aggressor. Not only that but he had the higher output, the better work rate and the more consistent offensive work. Sadly for Golovkin he failed to go to the body for the most part and looked to be on the end of the biggest single shots. By failing to go to the body he allowed thr younger, quicker, Canelo to get away, and perhaps if he had gone to the body he would have made the Mexican stay still a little more, and even opened him up for the heavier head shots that could have made the difference.
Those who have seen Golovkin over the last few years will know what to expect from him. He's a strong, powerful boxer-puncher. Technically he's solid with an impressive jab and under-rated footwork. Sadly he's now 36 and just losing that half a step he once had. His power is still impressive, as we saw in May against Vanes Martirosyan, but doesn't look as devastating as it once did and relative lack of speed is obvious in terms of both his footwork and his handspeed, as well as his defense.
Canelo, who was once a front foot fighter who applied pressure and used his physical traits in an imposing manner, has rounded out to be one of the sports better all-rounders. Again Golovkin he showed good movement, an ability to stick to a game plan and excellent counter punching. Sadly one of the issues that has always been a problem for Alvarez is his work rate. Whilst what he landed on Golovkin was quality his actual output was disappointing, and not for the first time it felt like he had ran out of steam to keep up any sort of sustained attack. He had moments but they were fleeting, short lived and tended to consist of a single shot or two.
With 52 bouts under his belt the 28 year old Mexican is a true veteran, with almost 13 years of professional experience behind him. There is a chance that he will age quickly, and he's been in tough bouts against the likes of Golovkin, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Floyd Mayweather, who all caught him clean. Saying that however he looked like their was still a lot of miles left on the clock last time out and a year out of the ring since then will certainly do him no harm, allowing him to rest and recover from any niggles he's had. If he's used the time since May wisely he may well be in the best shape of his career, for a bout he simply cannot afford to lose.
We're expecting this bout to be very similar to the first bout between these two. We think, again, that Golovkin will press forward, backing Canelo on the ropes. We also think Canelo will box well off the back foot. The key to winning however will be what changes the fighter makes. If Golovkin can go to the body he increases his chance, if Canelo can increase his output by 10% then he'll probably do enough to take the victory. It really is one where small changes will decide the outcome.
Of the two we think Golovkin will make the changes easier. He has a proven ability to go to the body, breaking down good fighters with body shots. We've never seen Canelo show a great work work rate, especially not against a fighter who can hit him back. We think Golovkin will make the alternation needed, and will do so in a way that the judges won't be able to deny him. We also think that there has been a general downward view on Canelo and where the judges may have favoured him based on fan reaction in the past, that won't be an issue, and the judges may well find themselves scoring the closer rounds to Golovkin, this time around.
It's fair to say the last few weeks have been both interesting and frustrating for those involved in the career of Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33). The Kazakh great saw a rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez being cancelled after Alvarez pulled out, following a failed drugs test, and left Tom Loeffler scrambling around for a replacement, with only a few weeks to go. After several opponents were looked into the one who ended up taking the fight was Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21), who had been out of the ring for almost 2 years and had lost 2 of his previous 3. It was a less than great decision, but meant that Golovkin would stay active, having been out of the ring since last September.
At his best Golovkin was a Middleweight wrecking ball, combining skills, power and toughness. He was an aggressive but calculated pressure fighter who had a desire to prove he was the best and to unify the Middleweight division. In recent bouts however the Kazakh has began to look his age, and whilst still a top fighter he's not looked as much of a destructive force as he once was. Part of that is to do with his competition, which has picked up in quality, but part of it is also to do with his age which is starting to catch up with him.
Golovkin was a former amateur star before turning professional in 2006. He would claim the WBA “interim” title in 2010 and has grown from there, becoming a staple of the US boxing scene since beating Grzegorz Proksa in 2012. Although he does lack in terms of career defining wins he has pretty much cleaned out the division of contenders ever since, beating the likes of Gabriel Rosado, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray, David Lemieux and Daniel Jacobs. The one blotch on his record was a very controversial draw that lead many to question what Adalaide Byrd had been watching during the fight. Sadly the draw cost Golovkin a career defining win, and lead to the mess of the rematch, the rematch that would be cancelled due to Canelo's positive drug test.
Again at his very best Golovkin has everything but speed, though used good IQ, timing and footwork to hide that flaw. He would bring the pressure, and break people down. In his last 2 bouts he has been taken the distance, and in his bout before that, against Kell Brook, he looked slow and a little bit clumsy. We need to go back over 2 years for the last really impressive performance from Golovkin, his win over Lemieux, and it's worth questioning what he really has left at the top level. He's still a good fighter, but the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo, Ryota Murata and Sergiy Derevyanchenko all seem to be eyeing up the Kazakh, something that wasn't happening a couple of years ago.
Martirosyan was a solid amateur himself, representing the US at the 2004 Olympics before making his professional debut the following year. Despite his amateur pedigree he was matched softly, and moved very slowly through the professional ranks, despite looking like someone who would have loved to have been tested early on. The kid gloves in terms of his development was because of his age, he was only 18 when he turned professional, but the progress of his career really was frustratingly slow. His first real tests coming in 2008, when he was matched with the likes of Michi Munoz, Angel Hernandez and Michael Medina. Sadly rather than move onwards and upwards from those wins he was kept at that sort of level until 2010, when he took on former world champion Kassim Ouma. Ouma, who would also give Golovkin fits, was very unlucky not to defeat Martirosyan in a bout that could easily have gone his way.
In many ways Martirosyan's struggle with Ouma showed a lot, and perhaps explained why his team had been so protective of him. Despite the struggle he did continue on with his career, winning a WBC eliminator in 2011 before fighting to a technical draw in a final eliminator in 2012. By then Martirosyan had been a professional for 7 years and his career, which had promised a lot, had really failed to deliver. He would finally get a world title fight a year later, losing a split decision to Demetrius Andrade. Losses in 2 of his subsequent 5 fights, to Jermell Charlo and a rematch to Lara really act as set backs to Martirosyan's dreams and he's not fought since the loss to Lara in May 2016.
Although a solid boxer, with decent power, decent movement and decent skills Martirosyan hasn't proven those traits at Middleweight, having fought much of his career at Light Middleweight, he has been inactive, as mentioned, and has been down a number of times during his career. Going up against a strong, powerful Middleweight like Golovkin won't bode well for the challenger. Martirosyan might have the speed to be competitive early on, but we can't help but think that Golovkin's power will be too much, and he'll stop the challenger in the middle rounds to retain the WBA “super”, WBO and IBO Middleweight titles.
The Middleweight division has always been one of the most significant in the sport, and historically has one been perhaps the second or third most important weight class in boxing, with only the Heavyweight clearly defining it's self as more significant. Over time we have seen icons make their name at the weight, such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon, Harry Greb, Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins. This weekend we get the chance to see the division again come to the fore as we get the division's biggest fight in years.
The bout in question will see WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33) take on linear champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 24). The bout is essentially to crown a single king at 160lbs, it's also to decide who is the better man, and which of the two really is a pound-for-pound top fighter. It pits the biggest name in Mexican boxing against the biggest in Kazakhstan, and in fact it pits two of the sport's genuine global stars against each other, in a bout that has split fans around the world.
The bigger name going in to the bout is Canelo. The 27 year old Mexican was long ear marked as a potential star and made his debut at the prodigious age of 15 years old. His early career was a bit slow burner but in 2010 he made his US debut, and since then he has become a focal point of boxing not only in Mexico but also in the US.
Out of the ring Canelo is a big deal, a huge one in Mexico, and in the ring he has the ability to back it up. He's a compact boxer-puncher who has heavy hands, nice combinations and has been in with a real who's who of the sport. He holds wins over the likes of Miguel Vazquez, Carlos Manuel Baldomir, Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, James Kirkland, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and his only loss is to Floyd Mayweather Jr, no shame there.
Although Canelo is one of the best boxer-punchers in the sport he is a flawed fighter, and one open to a lot of criticism. On paper his record looks amazing, but the reality is that he actually lacks many quality wins over prime opponents, with his stand win being a controversial one over Lara. Most of his wins, such as ones over Baldomir, Mosley, Kirkland and Cotto coming against men who were beyond their best. He can be made to look slow, his work rate isn't that high and although he has a reputation as being heavy handed, he's not a monstrous puncher, more a thudding one with every shot hurting. At 5'9” and with a 70.5” reach he is also a rather small Middleweight and although he's a thick fighter he's someone who will regularly be giving away size at Middleweight.
When it comes to Golovkin we have a fighter who splits a number of fans. His supporting will tell you about his long pursuit to get a big fight, and his inability to lure other top fighters in the ring during his pomp. At 35 years old he is probably past his best, hence why some feel Canelo took the fight, but he is coming in to this on the back of a huge win over Danny Jacobs. Having mentioned Jacobs it's worth noting the American was the latest in a long line of notable wins for Golovkin, who has beaten championship level fighters like Kassim Ouma, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Matthew Macklin, Kell Brook, David Lemiuex, and the aforementioned Jacobs.
Blessed with naturally frightening power Golovkin has had a long amateur background, he uses those skills to control the ring really well, he measures distance and angles brilliantly and although he's an aggressive fighter he's one who uses a lot of intelligent pressure. He backs that pressure up with a really solid chin, that helps make up for some of his defensive flaws. For all his talent he does have chinks in his armour, notably his leaky defense, a lack of head movement, and given his age there may well be some natural slow down, along with wear and tear. Offensively he is brilliant but he can be reckless, and he often shows little respect to opponents.
In the ring it will be Golovkin's pressure against against the counter punching skills of Canelo. Canelo will look to use Golovkin's pressure against him, and make him pay for his defenses lapses. As for Golovkin he'll be looking to be more intelligent than usual, use his reach and not sit in the pocket too long. He'll be looking to use his jab and his foot work, like we saw against David Lemieux, and limit the openings for the Mexican.
We suspect that a close bout will go to Canelo, we think everyone would agree with that, so we can't imagine Golovkin sitting back with his jab too much. But we think that will be his key early on, using the jab to try and pick holes in Alvarez, probably to the body. If he can do that, and bring the hands down he will get the chances late on to take it out of the judges hands. If Canelo can hold his own early on, and not take too much punishment early on, there's a fantastic chance he'll go on to hear the final bell and take the decision. With Canelo's combinations he will impress the judges, his eye catching shots are always a joy to watch, but he'll understandably look to limit them, for fear of being forced to eat too many shots from Golovkin. We think Golovkin will chip apart at Canelo and force a late stoppage, but we wouldn't be massively surprised at a win for the Mexican.
It's been a good year for boxing fans so far, with a lot of excitement, a host of upsets, some great match ups still being announced and fight fans generally seeming a lot more up beat about the sport than they were this time last year. That's not to say the sport's perfect but it's just that things seem much better than they have been in recent times, with the focus of numerous fighters being unification and legacy, rather than bank balance and avoidance.
This coming Saturday we get a bout that is essentially all about legacy and proving who the best fighter in the Middleweight division really is. In one corner we have the WBC, IBF, IBO and WBA “Super” champion Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33) whilst in the other corner we have once beaten WBA “regular” champion Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29). Essentially we have the two best Middleweights facing off, two of the biggest punchers in the sport and two men who each have the belief of being the best.
Of the two men it's fair to say that the unbeaten Golovkin is the more proven fighter. He was a stand out amateur before turning professional in 2006 and has held a WBA “world” title, of some status, since 2010. In fact since first winning the WBA “interim” title Golovkin has ripped through many of the top fighters in the division whilst going 17-0 (17) in title defenses. Whilst some of those defences were of the interim title, and some were against limited foes, he has take out the likes of Kassim Ouma, the then touted Grzegorz Proksa, the highly regarded Matthew Macklin, former champion Daniel Geale, top contenders like Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray, the then IBF champion David Lemieux and the then unbeaten Welterweight champion Kell Brook.
Blessed with naturally heavy hands and impressively solid chin Golovkin has added boxing skills and a high ring IQ to his natural gifts. Unlike many punchers he doesn't usually come out of the blocks looking for the KO but knows it will come with his boxing,and the fact that every shot he throws seems to be a damaging one. It's his learned traits, including his amazing balance and control of distance, which has made him one of the sports top fighters, and there is little a fighter can do to avoid the extreme pressure that the Kazakh brings to the ring.
Although a brilliantly talented fighter, who can box or bang, Golovkin does have a few flaws. He's not the quickest fighter on the planet, with either his hands or feet, he can be made to look a bit stationary at times and his defense is certainly not the tightest. Whilst he has the chin to hold up to shots, and the timing to neutralise quicker man, there are flaws that are being shown for fighters to look into exploiting in the future. Exploiting them may not be the most difficult thing in the world to do, but doing so for 12 rounds looks to be one of the toughest tasks in the sport today.
Although less proven than the Kazakh it's hard to not respect Jacobs, who has over-come cancer and scored notable wins against the likes of Ishe Smith, Sergio Mora and Peter Quillin. Like Golovkin it's fair to say that Jacob's is a powerful puncher, though it a much more “explosive puncher” than the heavy handed Kazakh. With Jacobs the punches are fast, the combinations are throw with intent and the American is certainly an impressive offensive fighter. Like Golovkin however his defensive issues are the major problem, and unlike Golovkin the American doesn't have a granite chin. He has been hurt a number of times during his career, suffering a 5th round TKO loss to Dmitry Pirog in 2010 and being dropped by Sergio Mora in 2015.
The 30 year old American has been around the pro scene for close to a decade, and was a decorated amateur himself before turning professional. Once tipped as one of the brightest young talents in the sport Jacobs has failed to live up to the expectations many had of him in the ring, though he has also proven doctors wrong by having such a great career after beating cancer.
Whilst Jacobs does have a chance, anyone with the power and speed he has has a chance, that chance is a slim one. His questionable punch resistance, his lack of defensive skills and the fact he leaves himself open is a curse here against a more rounded fighter than Golovkin. We think Jacobs will have his moments, every fighter seems to have some moments against Golovkin, but with the Kazakh taking this bout seriously those moments will be limited and Golovkin's jab will be the early controlling shot. As the bout wears on, and as Jacobs slows himself he'll begin to taste the meatier shots of Golovkin's before being stopped in the middle to late rounds.
It's fair to say that this coming Saturday is a huge day for boxing fans, with so many massive fights. For many the most exciting fights are in the US, with Carlos Cuadras Vs Roman Gonzalez and the Yoshihiro Kamegai Vs Jesus Soto Karass bouts both expected to be brilliant fights. For others however the most significant bout takes place at Middleweight in the UK and sees Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32) defending his WBC, IBF and IBO Middleweight titles against unbeaten Brit Kell Brook (36-0, 25), himself a world champion albeit the IBF champion at Welterweight. The bout, on Sky Box Office in the UK, is seen as the highest profile bout for Golovkin, who has long been avoided by top names at Middleweight, and is seen as a potential opportunity for Brook to become a real international star.
Golovkin first made his name in the amateurs, where he ran up an impressive resume winning various international competitions and beating numerous fighters who would later leave their mark on the professional scene. As a professional his career was a relative slow burn for his first 18 bouts, all in Europe. He claimed the WBA Interim Middleweight title in 2010 and since then he has become one of boxing's break out stars racking up world title defenses for fun and unifying the WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO titles in a career that has seen him become a star in America.
In the build up to a Golokin bout the typical thing to mention is his power. With a 91% stoppage rate the power is intimidating and it has seen him stop his last 22 opponents, including fighters like Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Martin Murray and David Lemieux. The power however is only part of the story with Golovkin's real strength actually being his skills. Those skills allow him to cut the ring down, get in to the range to land those powerful shots and break opponents down. He does have 1-punch KO power, as Nobuhiro Ishida and Lujan Simon found out, but the key to his power is that every single shot hurts, and eventually they break opponents down.
Unlike many power punchers Golovkin doesn't depend primarily on his power but instead uses his power as one of many weapons along with his timing, foot work, intelligent pressure and shot selection, including his now well known under-cut or sledgehammer shot. There are holes in his game defensively, and one wonders how he'd cope with someone crowding him and smothering him, but those holes are very hard to exploit.
For Brook the bout sees him making his Middleweight debut. He is well known for his career at Welterweight, where he has beaten the likes of Shawn Porter, Matthew Hatton, Vyacheslav Senchenko and Carson Jones, twice. Although highly skilled Brook's career has been an incredibly frustrating one with the last few years spent defending the IBF Welterweight title against very poor opponents, like Jo Jo Dan, Frankie Gavin and Kevin Bizier, who lasted a combined 12 rounds. Given the depth at Welterweight Brook had the chance to make himself an international star but has really wasted that chance with various problems.
In the ring Brook is a fantastic boxer-puncher. He shut down Porter with a disruptive game plan, destroyed Gavin, Dan and Brook with his power and gritted out a decision over Jones in the first bout. Not only is he a great boxer-puncher but he's also a massive Welterweight, and is probably a natural Light Middleweight. That however leaves us wondering how he will be at Middleweight, and we have seen him hurt by shots at Welterweight, with Senchenko wobbling him and Jones almost stopping him late in their first bout.
Tactically Brook has to be spot on to survive here. He has to neutralise not just the natural power and strength of Golovkin but also his pressure. That might mean that Brook has to, essentially, hit and run and run and run. Or it might mean that Brook, who has beefed up for the fight, has to get in and smother Golovkin, rather than let the Kazakh have full extension on his shots.
We suspect Brook will be confident coming in to this one and will feel he has done every thing he can to prepare for the bout with a solid gameplan. That plan however will likely go out of the window when he feels the power of the Kazakh and in the middle rounds that power will be too much, eventually stopping the challenger who will have taken some serious punishment before wilting.
The most notable of three world title bouts featuring Asian fighters this coming weekend sees unbeaten Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (34-0, 31) defending his WBA “super”, IBF, and WBC “interim” Middleweight titles against unbeaten IBF mandatory challenger Dominic Wade (18-0, 12). The bout will see Wade attempting to claim his first win at world level, whilst Golovkin will be hoping to score a 22nd straight stoppage, and 17th at “world” level.
The Kazakh destroyed has, over the last few years, become a staple on HBO and on the mythical “pound for pound” lists. Whilst he has his detractors, who comment on his level of competition and the media hype, Golovkin is with out a doubt one of the most exciting and destructive forces in boxing with a long list of frightening KO's that are stacking up. Whilst the comments on his competition, so far at least, do have some merit he has taken out the B-tier contenders repeatedly in an active schedule. Those contenders have included the likes of Kassim Ouma, Nobuhiro Ishida, Grzegorz Proksa, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Daniel Geale, Martin Murray and David Lemieux. All good, solid, respectable fighters.
Listening to some talk about Golovkin you'd think he was just a crude banger, but the reality is that the Kazakh is a brilliant boxer-puncher who has shown so many facets to his game that he has actually looked like a man who can do it all. He's often shown that he's a pressure fighter, with brilliant offensive footwork and a wonderful control of distance, he's also shown, more recently, that he can be a back-foot boxer, using his jab and movement to control a world class fighter. He may not be the most slippery or the slickest but there is certainly more to him than just his power.
Whilst Golovkin is certainly a known quantity the same cannot be said of Wade who is stepping up in class massively. To date Wade's best wins have been a controversial decision over Sam Soliman, a close decision over Nick Brinson and a stoppage over Marcus Upshaw. Notably he has been drown before, with Dashon Johnson dropping him just a few fights back and there is little in his history to really get too excited about.
In the ring the 26 year old American challenger does have power, and did “drop” Soliman on route to his victory over the Australian, but his technique is sloppy, his movement is limited and it's very hard to see what he has in his arsenal to worry Golovkin. In fact it may be a case that Wade needs some absolute miracle to over-come the Kazakh.
What we expect to see is for Golovkin to stalk, patiently, early in the bout before upping the heat in round 4 or 5 and seeing off Wade soon afterwards. Wade may surprise us by lasting a little bit longer, but we really can't see anyway in which he gives Golovkin a serious fight. Sadly. Hopefully however the near future does bring a big name to Golovkin who really does need that top level win before some fans will be won over by his ability and style.
When punchers collide fan fights get excited knowing that they might end ups with either a modern classic or an early blow out. Even when the bout is a supposed mismatch the power of the under-dog prevents fans from ignoring the fight knowing that a clean shot could totally change the momentum of the fight and see the under-dog rip up the script.
We get one such bout on October 16th when Kazakhstan's monstrously hard hitting Gennady Golovkin (33-0, 30) faces off against popular Canadian David Lemieux (34-2, 31). Not only is the bout an exciting one on paper with two big hitters but it will also be for the position of “unified” Middleweight champion with Golovkin putting his WBA “super”, WBC “interim”, and IBO titles on the line against Lemieux's IBF belt. The winner will not only hold the highest level of titles from the WBA and IBF but will also be the mandatory challenger to the WBC title and will only need to hunt the WBO if they are hoping to become the undisputed champion.
On paper Golovkin is the clear favourite. He's unbeaten and looks to be the dominant force in the division having swept aside the likes of Grzegorz Proksa, Gabriel Rosado, Nobuhiro Ishida, Matthew Macklin, Curtis Stevens, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio and Martin Murray, all of whom have been stopped by Golovkin.
The Kazakh has found himself racing through the proverbial pound-for-pound rankings almost as quickly as he's been going through his opponents and he's already regarded in the top 5 fighters on the planet by Boxrec.com, ESPN, Ring whilst the TBRB rank him inside the top 10. Whilst he has had 33 fights to his name he was a relative unknown to the US market 3 years ago, when he made his US debut, and has swiftly become a fan favourite Stateside.
Blessed with devastating power it's easy to describe Golovkin as “just a puncher” but the truth is that he's so much more than “just a puncher”. He's technically a solid boxer, helped by an incredible amateur background with more than 340 wins, his foot work is criminally under-rated as he cuts off the ring with ease and he always look in position to throw a shot. He does have chinks in his armour, notably in his defense, but he appears to have a very solid chin which makes him very difficult to discourage. Worryingly he has also proven his stamina, and despite never going 12 rounds he never looked all that bothered with stamina during his recent 11th round TKO win against Martin Murray.
What perhaps makes Golovkin stand out more than many other punchers is that he's willing to try new things. At times he has thrown some punches, including a punch that could be described as an “under-cut” or “reverse uppercut”, that certainly aren't in the text book for the sport. His variety of punches is incredible and he hit's monstrously hard with both hands causing real issues for fighters who have to worry about every shot in his arsenal.
Whilst the 33 year old Golovkin is unbeaten the same cannot be said of his 26 year old Canadian rival. In Lemieux has suffered two notable losses to opponents that perhaps were over-looked in some ways. The first of those came against Marco Antonio Rubio, who saw off an early storm from the Canadian before an exhausted Lemieux was stopped by his then corner man Russ Anber. Lemieux would lose his return bout decision to Joachim Alcine, who was considered a safe option though took a decision win over Lemieux. Those set backs, both in 2011, saw Lemieux go from one of the hottest rising fighters to a man who was written off as being little more than a Canadian pretty boy.
Since suffering those losses Lemieux has rebuilt, brilliantly, with 9 straight wins including 7 inside the distance. The first few of those wins were easy ones, designed to rebuild his confidence but over the last 18 months he has scored 3 solid wins, destroying Fernando Guerrero and Gabriel Rosado before taking a clear decision over Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam to claim the IBF title, and his biggest scalp.
Early in his career Lemieux was known for blasting opponents out. He looked sharp, powerful and very destructive with his 23 of his first 24 wins, and his first 20, all coming inside the distance. There was however question marks about his stamina and chin and it was the stamina issue that cost in his first loss, his second loss was mostly down to confidence with the fighter feeling ill effects of his first loss. Since then however he has learned how to go rounds if necessary, he wastes a lot less energy and his footwork has improved markedly. He's still a man who relies on his power but he has polished his delivery of that power.
Whilst Golovkin is a heavy handed boxer who can cut the distance distance with ease Lemieux is more of a natural fighter, a brawler a man who wants to jump into a fight and finish it with out necessarily show casing his boxing ability. There is however some good boxing in his arsenal, even if it's not show cased a lot.
Interestingly both men not only posses title belts and power but in terms of stature both are almost identical, there is just 1” separating their heights. Saying that however Golovkin is a naturally small Middleweight whilst Lemieux seems to be a man who could, or rather will, end up fighting at Super Middleweight somewhere down the line. This is likely to mean that whilst both will look a similar height Lemieux will be the heavier man. That weight may be his key to winning with it perhaps allowing him to take a shot better and lean on Golovkin on the inside.
Having watched both men we're expected to see both men trade heavy shots, the difference however will be the variation of Golovkin who we think will be able to create the distance that he wants to put full leverage on his shots. Whilst we think Golovkin will win, we do suspect this could be among his most difficult fight, along with the Kassim Ouma fight. Lemieux may not last as long as Ounma did but will ask serious questions of Golovkin's toughness and punch resistance.
When fighters reach the world level they tend to become inactive with many world class fighters fighting just twice a year. It's frustrating to see top fighters being so inactive but thankfully we do have an occasional fighter who is willing to buck the trend, remain active and,more importantly, do it in style. One such fighter is Kazakh Middleweight destroyer Gennady Golovkin (32-0, 29) who has been one of the more active champions in recent years, and holds a nice collection of titles including the WBA “super”, and WBC “interim” Middleweight belts.
On May 16th we see Golovkin return to the ring for his second bout of the year, his 4th bout in a the last 12 months and his 7th bout in less than 24 months. That type of activity is rarely seen by contenders never mind champions.
One of the reason's Golovkin has been so active is because he's been so destructive. His last 3 bouts have lasted a combined 16 rounds with 11 of those coming against the tough Martin Murray in a very one sided bout that saw Murray surviving without posing too many problems. Golovkin's last 7 bouts have gone 34 rounds. He's wiping out opponents in a manner that allows him to be active and none of the bouts are really putting miles on the clock.
What makes Golovkin so destructive isn't just his power, which is a great asset, but also his shot selection and his intense and very calculated pressure. He applies frightening pressure that forces opponents on to the retreat, he cuts the ring off marvelously, corners his foes then lands clean, hurtful shots. He finds gaps that other fighters don't, he lands shots that opponents don't see coming and he neutralises his foes offense with his own pressure.
Arguably the greatest trait Golovkin his is calmness. In his 32 professional bouts and copious amateur bouts we've never seen Golovkin look flustered. Instead he looks calm, relaxed, and like a natural born fighter. Few fighters look as calm as Golovkin, even when he's being tagged himself on what appears to be a very granite chin. A chin he certainly believes in.
In the opposite corner to Golovkin will be the once beaten Willie "The Mongoose" Monroe Jr (19-1, 6), a man who really made his name last year when he won the Middleweight “Boxcino” tournament on ESPN. Prior to that tournament victory he was a relative unknown with a win over journeyman Michael Walker and a loss to Darnell Boone being his only notable results. Impressively Monroe scored 4 wins last year and has scored 7 wins in the last 24 months, albeit at a much lower level than Golovkin's been competing at.
Whilst Golovkin is an intense pressure fighter with thunderous Monroe is more of a boxer-move who lacks the power on his shots but does have nice light movement, quick hands and the ability to get in and out of range with out problems. He's shown an excellent ability to use the ring and a brilliant ability to box on the move whilst keeping opponents off balance and preventing them from setting their feet. It that's ability that helped him over-come decent opponents like Brian Vera, Brandon Adams and Vitaliy Kopylenko.
As well as being a tricky mover Monroe is also a southpaw. That makes him doubly tricky at the level he's been competing at. Sadly though he likes real power, his competition, whilst being solid, is several levels below that of Golovkin's and so far he has the record of a prospect rather than a future world champion. He's got a great story and a fantastic attitude but it's really hard to see what he has to really trouble Golovkin.
In terms of styles, and just styles, this is interesting. On paper it's pressure fighter against tricky southpaw boxer-mover. Sadly however styles don't over-come a massive difference in ability and there really is very little for Golovkin to be worried about. The champion has the better skills, the more power, the more proven ability, the better chin, the better amateur pedigree, the better footwork and the better shot selection.
In many ways all Monroe has that Golovkin doesn't is speed, though that will be neutralised by Golovkin's amazing timing, chin and footwork.
What we're expecting is to see Monroe try to make the most of his abilities early on. He'll get on his bike whilst jabbing and moving. After a round or two however Golovkin will get his range, cut the ring off and start to pin Monroe against the ropes. With Monroe on the ropes Golovkin will start to land his body shots and by round 5 or 6 Monroe will become slower, more ragged and eventually be broken down from the sheer relentless pressure of the champion.
*Note Monroe will not be fighting for the WBC "interim" title as he's chosen not to pay the sanctioning fees requested. Golovkin however will be defending the title.
(Image courtesy of http://www.iboboxing.com)
In amateur boxing Kazakhstan is one of the biggest forces in the sport. On the professional level hat success hasn't quite been repeated. Despite the fact the country isn't a major player in the professional ranks it does have one of the sports true stars and most exciting fighters, Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (31-0, 28). Golovkin, also known as “GGG” is the current WBA “super”, WBC “interim” and IBO Middleweight champion as well as one of the sports most exciting, talented and destructive fighters. The 32 year old, originally from Karaganda though now based in Stuttgart, has left a wake of destruction behind him in recent years and will be hoping to bulldoze through another opponent on February 21st as he returns to fight in Monaco for the 3rd time.
The well travelled Golovkin has has made his name globally. Originally it was in the amateurs that he caught the attention of fans though since turning professional he has fought Germany, Denmark, Panama, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, USA and Monaco. In each of those countries he has stopped opponents, battered them, beaten them and broken them. Not only has he been beating up opponents for fun but he has been doing it impressive and making light work of solid contenders, former champions and other top 10 level fighters.
What has made Golovkin so impressive is that he can box or bang and often combines his devastating power with clever boxing and an insane amount of intelligent pressure. The pressure often makes opponents fearful of throwing and the power punishes opponents who do feel confident enough to try and fight Golovkin off.
For many Golovkin's up coming bout will be his toughest as he takes on Britain's highly regarded Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12) a man who has never been dominated and, in the eyes of some, should be undefeated.
Murray isn't like Golovkin and isn't like anyone Golovkin has faced in recent years. He is a defensively sound, sharp puncher who is big, strong and confident. He's a man who marched over to Germany and pushed Felix Sturm all the way in a bout scored a draw then later went over the Argentina in front of 40,000 fans and gave Sergio Martinez a very hard bout on route to a controversial loss. In both of those bouts Murray was a visitor and gave a great account of himself in bouts many though he won courtesy of his tight defense, intense pressure and sharp counter punching.
What Murray does so well is neutralise fighters offensive work whilst slowly getting his offense off. He can be a slow started but he tends to find a way to stop opponents from getting going. If he can shut down Golovkin's offense then it would be very impressive though we suspect Golovkin will find holes, particularly around the mid section of the Brit. Those holes will be taken advantage of and we suspect the Kazakh will eventually break down Murray who lacks the fire power to keep Golovkin off him. It won't a 1-punch KO style from Golovkin, such as his win over Lujuan Simon in Germany or his Monaco debut against Nobuhiro Ishida, but it will be a gradual breaking down process that eventually sees Murray being saved.
If Murray can do the impossible and shut down Golovkin's offense then we could have a very interesting bout, especially if Murray wants to try and fight to his usual style. He's not the quickest or the heaviest handed but the Brit is well schooled and if he can begin to frustrate Golovkin with his defence then he may well find a way to steal rounds. Sadly however we think Golovkin, even if he struggles to land clean, will have the boxing ability to fall back on and take a clear decision win by simple boxing.
Of the two scenarios however we do suspect that Golokin will find holes and will break down Murray eventually, even if it does take a few rounds longer than some of his recent bouts. Murray may have been in with good fighters but none of them have been as good, as heavy handed or as intelligent as Golovkin and that is why Golovkin will do what others haven't and break down Murray.
From what we understand a win here for Golovkin will see return to action in the US in Summer as he continues to develop his reputation as one of the best fighters on the planet. It's hoped that that bout will be against Miguel Cotto as Golovkin finally gets a shot at the linear Middleweight title before a possible move to Super Middleweight either later this year or early next year.
(Image courtesy of www.sportsviewlondon.com)
On the international scene there are only a handful of Asian fighters that American fans, at the moment, are really interested in. One of those is arguably the most intimidating man in boxing and one of the most destructive with the power and skill to leave a division trembling in fear. That man is Gennady Golovkin (30-0, 27) the current WBA Middleweight champion. Golvokin is so fearsome and terrifying that it often seems that getting opponents for him is a bigger battle than the ones he actually has in the ring and the way he has mowed through the contenders and pretenders in the division has been nothing short of fantastic. It's almost like he has cut through the division and left only a small handful of foes left to conquer.
The next obstacle in Golovkin's way to becoming the undisputed king of the Middleweight division is Mexican veteran Marco Antonio Rubio (59-6-1, 51), himself a massive puncher and a full signatory to the "who needs him?" club.
Golovkin is a fighter who really has almost everything a fan can want to see in a fighter. He's technically very well schooled and his amateur pedigree speaks for it's self, he doesn't fight like an amateur however and instead of pot shotting looking for "scoring blows" he seeks and destroys with a technically astute aggressive style dependent on applying constant but calculated pressure. He combines his pressure with thunderous, lights out and soul destroying power to head and body and a very solid chin that has shots bouncing off it like a pistol to a tank.
That's not to say Golvokin is perfect. Defensively he has holes, as shown in his fight with Curtis Stevens, and in many fights he has started slowly giving away the opening round, as he almost did against Japanese fighter Makoto Fuchigami, Also he's not the quickest with his hands or feet, although he does make up for that with intelligent footwork that sees him cutting off the ring in an amazing fashion. It's that cutting off of the ring that makes Golovkin such a great fighter and although his power is his calling card it's the footwork that really impresses us as he immediately forces an opponent on to the ropes and into survival mode. It's genuinely amazing.
As for Rubio, the Mexican is a tough guy with solid power of his own and a lot of experience. He's also one of the Middleweight division's most under-rated fighters and unfortunately he's often been a fighter with more risk than reward. Had Rubio been given some of the chances he had earned there is every chance that he would have been the man to have beaten Sergio Martinez and he would currently hold the WBC world title. Things in boxing however don't often go as they should and instead he was still chasing a bout at the WBC title prior to agreeing to fight Golovkin.
Rubio is one of the division hard nosed challengers. In his 66 fights he has suffered just 3 stoppage losses with only one of those, a defeat to Kelly Pavlik, coming in the last decade. Although an avoided fighter he has battled against the likes of Pavlik, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Kofi Jantuah, Kassim Ouma, Zaurbek Baysangurov, Enrique Ornelas, David Lemieux and most recently Domenico Spada. With mixed results against those guys it's clear to say that Rubio is a qualified world level fighter, even if he's never actually held a true world title.
For this fight what we're expecting is what we expect every time Golovkin fights. His opponent will look confident though with in a round we're expecting Rubio to be on the back foot throwing shots which are more about trying to prevent Golovkin coming forward than actually winning the round. As with most fighters however Rubio will soon discover that that strategy doesn't work against Golovkin and mentally he'll crumble as Golvokin tags him with dynamite shots that appear moderately show but like a shot gun have real staying power.
Rubio is tough and won't be taken out by the first clean shot like some fighters have been but there is no doubting he will be Golvokin's 28th stoppage victim from just 31 fights. A win here should see Golovkin adding the WBC silver Middleweight title to his collection and taking a huge step towards a big money break out fight against Miguel Cotto, a win there and Golovkin will almost certainly go down as the divisions #1 fighter, at least until he decides to mount an assault on the Super Middleweight division which we suspect may come in the next 12-18 months.
(Image courtesy of http://wbcboxing.com)
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.