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.
The Super Flyweight division is arguably the strongest in the sport right now. It features a great selection of talents and is an incredibly deep division with probably the best top 5 and top 10 in the sport today. This coming Saturday we see a number of those top fighters in action with the most notable of those bouts being a potential FOTY contender for the WBC title, as Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38) takes on former champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38) [ศรีสะเกษ นครหลวงโปรโมชั่น].
Whilst fans who have heard HBO fawning over Roman Gonzalez may not have heard of Srisaket the Thai should prove to be the type of fighter that will make for an insane war with Gonzalez, being similar, albeit cruder, to the Nicaraguan great.
As we all know Gonzalez became the first Nicaraguan to become a 4-weight world champion last year when he took a narrow win over Carlos Cuadras, who had actually usurped Srisaket with a technical decision in May 2014. The win over Cuadras saw Gonzalez adding the WBC Super Flyweight title to a resume that had included WBA titles at Minimumweight and Light Flyweight as well as the WBC Flyweight title. It also saw him adding Cuadras' name to a long list of great wins, which include victories over Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Juan Francisco Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr, Akira Yaegashi and Brian Viloria.
At the lowest weights Gonzalez was a freakish monster who steam-rolled opponents. He came forward with an ultra-aggressive style and was too strong, too powerful and too aggressive for fighters at 105lbs and 108lbs. As he's moved up through the weights however he has found people who haven't buckled under his aggression, with Juan Francisco Estrada, McWilliams Arroyo and Cuadras all taking Gonzalez the distance in the last 5 years, and they are 3 of just 6 men to last 12 rounds with Gonzalez.
Coming forward with a tight guard, a lot of upper body movement, great combinations and frightening power Gonzalez is a genuine monster, and highly regarded through out the boxing world as one of, if not the, best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. That talent can only take a fighter so far and now, at Super Flyweight, some question whether or not the naturally bigger and stronger fighters will be too much for the Nicargauan.
In Srisaket we sort of have a poor man's Gonzalez, but a poor mans' Gonzalez who is a genuine Super Flyweight and looks massive at the weight. Not only that but he has took on regional Super Bantamweights, and stopped them, showing that like Gonzalez he can push around and bully naturally bigger men. Like Gonzalez he doesn't go the distance often and has stopped 38 of 41 opponents through his 8 year career. Those stoppages haven't come against the top guys in the sport, but do include wins over Yota Sato, Hirofumi Mukai and Jose Salgado.
On paper Srisaket will likely be written off by some fans who look at his record, and not the fighter. Srisaket has got a number of blotches on his record but began his career 1-3-1, being thrown in Akira Yaegashi on debut and suffering 3 set backs in Japan during an 11 month run. Since that faltering start Srisaket has gone 40-1 (37) and has proven to be a beastly lower weight fight, from a stable that also includes Suriyan Sor Rungvisai.
In the ring Srisaket is a slow stalker but one who never seems to back up, and will pursue his man until they end up being stopped. He's not a man who tends to hear the judges scorecards, and since losing to Cuadras we've seen Srisaket go 14-0 (13), his only non-stoppage being a technical decision win over Zoren Pama, in what was a flat performance from Srisaket after his loss to Cuadras. Notably he has been inactive since the end of August last year and whilst that could be a good thing, it may be a problem with Srisaket typically being a very busy fighter and a 6 month lay off might not be the best of things for him.
We know Gonzalez will start as the favourite here, that's obvious, but if we're being honest we see this as a really competitive bout. Gonzalez' lack of size will be an issue against a man like Srisaket, who is a huge puncher himself, and we'll go out on a limb and call the upset here with Srisaket eventually breaking down the smaller, but more talented, Nicaraguan in the later rounds.
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.