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.
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.