There are 34 reasons Gennady Golovkin should be regarded the rightful heir to Floyd Mayweather as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world – and 31 of them were in no position to argue when the Kazakh genius made the closing bell redundant.
Golovkin is 33, unbeaten, and at the height of his powers. At Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, he entertained a capacity crowd to an exhibition of power and precision, destroying his 34th opponent, the crude but dangerous David Lemieux, in a middleweight unification fight as embarrassing as any elite bout in recent memory.
The Canadian, touted as a threat, didn’t win a round. He landed maybe half a dozen clean shots. The owner of the IBF belt was reduced to the level of sparring partner.
There was hardly a moment of inconvenience for the winner in the seven-and-a-bit rounds he chose to let it last. Against an opponent who imagined that 27 knockouts inside three rounds made him immune to Golovkin’s power, the real champion exposed Lemieux as naively ambitious. Distracted throughout by his designer haircut and one of the best jabs in boxing, he surrendered his version of the title after fighting like a novice and left with the second stoppage loss on his record.
Exposed at the highest level, he deluded himself in post-fight comments demanding a rematch. Goliath would have a better chance in a second go at David.
Those are the bare facts of Golovkin’s most recent triumph. A closer analysis and examination of any of his tapes show why he is so good. He does not just break down good opponents physically, he robs them of their dignity. He makes proud men look second-rate. It doesn’t matter what they bring to the ring, Golovkin shreds their credentials, rarely having to get out of second gear. Mayweather boasted about never needing his A game; Golovkin could get by on C-minus.
On the few occasions where he has gone deeper in a bout, it has been of his own choosing. Martin Murray, whose only reverses were in two desperately close world title fights, lasted 11 rounds but only briefly competed on level terms; Willie Monroe Jr, who’d lost once in 19, lasted six, and probably wished he hadn’t bothered; Matthew Macklin and Daniel Geale were allowed three rounds apiece.
Macklin – who made a successful return at light-middle with a 10-round points win over Jason Welborn in Birmingham on Saturday – said even Golovkin’s set-up shots hurt, before a dig to the ribs did for him when they met in 2013.
Golovkin is a control freak. He stalks at a perfect distance, his footwork and balance flawless, and nearly all his work flowing behind a jab some heavyweights would die for.
The Kazakh who has based himself in Los Angeles and had the dubious pleasure of a pre-fight visit from Donald Trump, is finally building momentum in his adopted country. He does not have anywhere near the commercial clout Mayweather built up, but his continued dominance is winning over American fans in their growing thousands. He is humble, reasonably articulate and well managed. Only an accident can derail him.
In my opinion, Golovkin owned the pound-for-pound crown even before Mayweather announced his retirement after his 49th career win last month, over the faded Andre Berto. While the Money Man stretched out his career like a businessman, Golovkin did the business in the ring.
It is one of those boxing arguments that generates more heat than light, but Mayweather could have resolved it had he not walked away from Golovkin’s offer to move down from middleweight, where he is peerless, and fight at a catchweight of the great man’s choosing.
He said so more than once in the American’s 18th and final year as a renowned champion, but Floyd demurred. At 38 and the single most powerful figure in the business, he could have made the fight if he wanted to – and on his own terms.
Instead, he would go out against a hand-picked opponent – not the unbeaten Golovkin, nor even a serious contender at his own weight in Amir Khan or maybe Danny García, but Berto, who’d lost three of his previous six. There have been few more disappointing conclusions to a great career.
So that fox is shot. While Mayweather’s abdication left another scar on his sport, Golovkin has the potential to heal wounds. Next up for him – if either of them fancy it – will be Miguel Cotto, who gave Mayweather one of his tougher nights, or Saúl Álvarez, who did not.
Cotto, more cultured but edging towards the end of his career, will do well to hold on to his WBC belt against “Canelo” in Las Vegas on 21 November.
Whoever wins will do well to hear the last bell against Golovkin.
However, there is one fighter who runs Golovkin a close second as the best in the business, Román “Chocolatito” González, the unbeaten 28-year-old Nicaraguan flyweight who was almost as commanding as Golovkin on the Garden undercard, stopping Brian Viloria in nine to keep his WBC title. It was his 38th stoppage in 44 bouts. There is nobody remotely close to him at or around his weight, and this clip shows why…
BROOK NO ARGUMENT
Kell Brook left fans seething when he pulled out of his IBF welterweight defence against Diego Chavez with a rib injury, but his promoters, Matchroom, on Monday announced means for them to get a total or partial refund for the 24 October show in Sheffield. They can call the Arena Box Office on 0114-256 5656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Eubank Jr tops the bill now, defending his WBA interim middleweight title against American Tony Jeter. The words “ho” and “hum” spring to mind.
European bantamweight Gavin McDonnell fights former world title challenger Jeremy Parodi, and a string of decent locals make up the card, including Leigh Wood against Josh Wale, heavyweight Dave Allen against Adam Machaj, and Atif Shafiq against Jamie Robinson.
If you bought a Brook ticket but don’t think it’s still worth still going, it’s on Sky Sports. It was always a bit of a climbdown from a proposed pay-per-view show for Brook, and his backers hope he holds focus while recovering from his injury. It is not inconceivable that the demotion contributed to the champion’s lack of enthusiasm.
Eubank, meanwhile, has inherited all the chutzpah – and a lot of the talent – his father showed in and out of the ring. Junior says of Golovkin: “People see him as the top fighter in the middleweight division and, as the type of fighter I am, I want to fight the best.
“There is no reason that within the next two years, I can’t have all those belts. Golovkin has got weaknesses that I feel I can exploit, so the goal is to work towards that fight. It’s a huge fight down the line. I think he’s easy to hit and I can exploit that. I don’t think he’s had a defining fight. I don’t think he’s fought anyone who’s really been there to try and win.”
Stick that on a poster and sell it.
This article was written by Kevin Mitchell, for theguardian.com on Monday 19th October 2015 17.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010