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.