Posts Tagged ‘Peter Quillin’

Who is Golovkin?

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Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin, or “GGG” to many, is the man whose name is on the lips of many boxing fans right now. His rise to some seems sudden, to others watching closer has been gradual, but to all it brings the question of how high can he go?

Golovkin, born in Kazakhstan and now based out of Germany, checks the box that seems to always get casual boxing fans salivating at the thought of his fights. He knocks people out; he knocks almost everyone he faces out.

31 professional bouts have yielded 31 victories, 28 of them early. Golovkin holds a knockout ratio over 90% and is currently sitting on an 18 fight stoppage streak. With those kinds of numbers, Golovkin is on the brink of superstardom and is just missing one thing, credible opponents.

 

Search for Credibility

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My use of the term credible opponents is not a knock on anyone who has faced Golovkin. Any fighter has to build through different levels of opponent on their way to the top. I’m merely alluding to fighters who have reached the top and have in-ring achievements akin to those desired by a fighter like Golovkin.

In his 31 professional fights, Golovkin has failed to step into the ring with any fighters who make the world sit up and say “wow” when he beats them. In fact, only in his last two outings has Golovkin actually stepped into the ring with a former title holder.

In those outings Golovkin blew out Daniel Geale, a two time middleweight title holder, and Marco Antonio Rubio who held the lowly regarded WBF Super Middleweight title briefly. Both solid fighters in their own right, both gutsy and gritty competitors, but both are fighters who have failed to make that final step up to being top draw competitors.

This leads to Golovkin’s record looking pretty thin with regard to that higher level of opponents. To some, this lower level of opposition could be pointed to as a reason for the high knockout percentage.

Lower ranked fighters are typically ranked lower for good reason. They may be easier to hit, they may have a lower punch resistance and they may have a more limited toolbox of attacking and defensive skills than higher caliber fighters. As a result, there are still question marks over how effective Golovkin will be when he does meet a higher quality of opponent in the ring.

Is Golovkin a Ducked Fighter?

On the other side of the argument are those, including Gary Poole in this article published on Yahoo Sports this week, who apply a different spin on the level of credible opposition.

The aforementioned article, and others like it, suggest that the poor level of opponents Golovkin has been facing is down to his being ducked by better fighters because of the high-risk, low-reward they would be facing by stepping into the ring with him.

As a fighter who has not taken on many fighters known outside of hardcore boxing fan circles, the general public knew little about Golovkin until recently. As a result, those on the top of the pile may have felt that taking on Golovkin was too much of a high risk, low reward situation.

There could be some credence in this theory. For all the accolades a victory over these fighters Golovkin would have received with a victory, those at the top would have effectively lost to a no-name fighter. In the fickle world of boxing, this can seriously damage a career and marketability.

Problem with Fight Selection?

Gennady Golovkin v Marco Antonio Rubio

As with anything, however, there are always two sides to every story. Is Golovkin’s lack of credible opponents for the reasons mentioned above of him being too much of a risk to take on, or is it a case of he’s going about becoming a bigger name in the wrong way?

To become a bigger name and be knocking on the door of big fights you typically have to earn the right. Golovkin has been blazing a trail of destruction amongst lower ranked opponents. He stepped up a little in taking on Geale, but then Rubio was a backward step. Is this poor management and opponent selection?

Given that Peter Quillin recently vacated his title, claiming that he wanted to be able to position himself toward bigger fights rather than take on mandatory defenses, surely something could have been worked out to get a fight between he and Golovkin. That would have put two undefeated champions (as Quillin was never defeated for his title) against one another and that would have made more waves.

Considering that thought process, one would have to examine who Golovkin and his camp have been pushing for fights with to determine if he’s been a victim of poor opponent selection, or if he is a ducked fighter because of his skill set.

 

Who Does Golovkin Want to Fight?

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. of Mexico is treated in his corner between rounds during his bout against Sergio Martinez of Argentina at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas

Three fights have been discussed recently as preferred fights for Golovkin. A bout with the winner of two fighters seemingly destined to meet each other next in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Cotto, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, and the inevitable between any fighter within spitting distance of 154lbs and a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

First is the link to Mayweather, the weakest of these links. Many fighters have tried to grow their own brand off the back of the pound-for-pound king. Some, like Robert Garcia, have even managed to successfully hound Mayweather long enough to land a bout with him.

The Golovkin link, however tenuous, is somewhat ridiculous. Mayweather is undersized to a degree at welterweight and relies upon his superior technique to defeat naturally larger opponents. On his occasional forays to the junior middleweight, Mayweather is always below the limit at weigh-in and is often outweighed by a significant amount come fight time.

For a natural middleweight to be calling for a fight with an undersized welterweight it makes you raise your eyebrows. This is obviously just a way of capitalizing on the name of Mayweather to try to increase your own exposure and visibility.

Now we move on to the Canelo or Cotto option. These guys seemed destined to face each other next, and Golovkin has spoken about wanting to face the winner. Cotto’s trainer, Freddie Roach, has also spoken of a desire to face Golovkin after Canelo.

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Cotto is a step in the right direction as he is at least a title holder in the middleweight division, having recently destroyed Sergio Martinez. As such, this makes sense as a possible fight because it is a unification bout between two middleweight champions. Is it a fight that would really showcase Golovkin though?

To that, my answer would have to be no. Cotto has a name Golovkin can use to increase his own name recognition. However, in Cotto he faces a man who was an undersized junior middleweight who went on to defeat a middleweight champion often described to be undersized.

In Canelo you have a guy who has mostly campaigned junior middleweight division. Canelo, while not very tall, is a compact and stocky fighter in the mold of former middleweight champion Arthur Abraham, now a title holder in the super middleweight class. Canelo’s frame would allow him easy transition between the divisions, and as he ages and his body matures he will undoubtedly become a natural fit for the middleweight division.

At the moment, Canelo has no notable wins at middleweight. What he does have, like Cotto, is a recognizable name that Golovkin can use to his advantage.

Now to Chavez. Chavez, like all other fighters looked at so far, has name recognition amongst casual fans. As for competition level, Chavez is an often unmotivated fighter who doesn’t apply himself in his training, often looks listless in the ring and struggled against the uninspiring Brian Vera.

Chavez is another fighter who brings name recognition to a bout with Golovkin. However, like all the fighters mentioned by Golovkin’s team he is nothing more than name recognition. He is, at least, one opponent discussed who is actually bigger than Golovkin who was beginning to look like a school yard bully looking for fights with the little guys.

Who Should Golovkin be Facing?

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For me, this is simple. If Golovkin is not taking on fellow champions within the middleweight division, he should be looking to step up and make waves in the super middleweight division. By making waves, I do not mean facing Chavez, who in spite of being in the super middleweight class has not performed in any meaningful affairs there to be considered a big hitter in the division.

I already mentioned seeking a bout with Quillin. As Quillin vacated his title he is not bound by mandatory defenses and a bout with Golovkin should be the kind of “big fight” he claims to crave.

Jermain Taylor recently won another middleweight title, but as he was knocked sideways by Arthur Abraham, we really don’t need to look at him as a viable opponent for Golovkin.

That leaves the super-middleweight division, where there are a number of mouthwatering fights that could be made.

Golovkin could take his show back to his European roots and seek out a bout with Arthur Abraham, grizzled veteran who started as a middleweight champion before stepping up to the super middleweight division. Not a bad fight to begin your campaign in a new division.

How about new WBC super middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell? An undefeated fighter with silky skills and the ability to mix it up if needed. Dirrell just defeated Sakio Bika to get his hands on a title and welcoming Golovkin to the division would be a great first defense.

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Then you look to the top fights. The kingpins of the super middleweight division are Carl Froch and Andre Ward, and neither man has a current opponent.

In Froch you have the experienced warrior. He’s been in with everyone who matters in the division, and only Kessler and Ward have beaten him. Froch avenged the Kessler defeat and is seeking a big showdown to end his career on. If Golovkin wants to make the right waves, a bout with Froch would be a great way to go about it.

On to Ward. Long periods of inactivity due to surgery and promotional disputes caused Ward to be stripped of his title. That doesn’t take anything away from the long-dominant fighter in the division. Ward is undefeated, and other than a gallant rally in the closing rounds by Froch when the pair met in 2011 Ward has barely been troubled in fights.

So, is Golovkin Ducked or What?

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After looking through articles and reported conversations with his management team, I’m going to have to say it looks more like Golovkin is a victim of poor management rather than being a ducked fighter.

His team has a knack of calling out fighters who have prior involvements, are notoriously difficult to make bouts with or are small fighters they know he can bully into submission. That’s not the way to go about making yourself a legend.

There are fights that can be made that are better than Rubio, Osumana Adama, Nobuhiro Ishida, it just takes persistence and hard work.

This also doesn’t stop solely with those in his management team; Golovkin has to take some of the blame. Because of his high knockout percentage, long run of stoppages and undefeated career, it’s obvious Golovkin sees himself as the star attraction in his bouts. In those bouts he’s been involved in, he certainly is the star attraction. However, moving forward he will have to get used to the fact that for the next two or three fights he is no longer going to be the A-side fighter, to borrow Cotto’s terminology.

If Golovkin was to enter a bout with any of the four fighters he earmarked as potential opponents, or even if he went into a bout with the likes of Froch or Ward, he will not be the star attraction. All those fighters have more name recognition, a larger fan base and regularly achieve larger numbers with either pay-per-view sales or broadcast numbers.

As such, Golovkin will have to spend a couple of fights on the B-side of the card, take a lower portion of pay for the event and bow to the demands of the stronger side of the draw. If he does that, lands the big fights he says he wants and wins, then he becomes the main attraction and the ball is back in his court.

Ducked? No, or at least not because anybodies afraid to face him. When you are the star attraction of an event you are the person making the demands and taking the larger cut of pay. Golovkin must be unwilling to accept that until he’s been in a couple of big fights he is not in a position to be the main attraction.

Unless he takes that hit and becomes the B-side I feel the big fights are going to be increasingly difficult for Golovkin to achieve.

*All stats regarding boxer records come from boxrec.com.