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.