Posts Tagged ‘saul alvarez’

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.

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Review of opponents on Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s wish list to Golden Boy Promotions, published by me through bleacherreport.com

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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the 22 year old Mexican boxer, WBC light middleweight title holder and veteran of 42 professional fights, is looking for a fight. He informed RingTV.com in September of his wish list following his domination of Josesito Lopez. The list is three names long and is a signal of intent from Alvarez and a long-needed step in the right direction.

For such a young fighter, Alvarez has been in a lot of fights.

However, when you consider the limited amateur background he has—just 20 amateur bouts—he is actually behind many fighters in terms of in-ring experience. Floyd Mayweather Jr. had 90 amateur bouts before turning pro.

Alvarez has been touted as the next big thing in boxing and has been labelled overrated and protected to equal degrees. In truth, he seems to currently lie somewhere between the two.

Alvarez is a talented young boxer whose rise to prominence was a carefully crafted piece of maneuvering by his management team that took place before he had faced a level of opposition to justify it.

One thing that Alvarez’s intentions appear to signal is that he is ready to show the world that he is what he has been hyped to be. The three names on the list are definitely a sign that he is not happy to sit back and count his cash while facing lesser opposition; he wants to face the best.

 

 

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The three he has apparently requested in his meeting with Golden Boy Promotion executives are Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez. He has also signaled he would like to fight one of these opponents on May 5th. If granted the opportunity against one of these fighters, who should Canelo face?

 

Floyd Mayweather

Lets start with the biggest of the three, Floyd Mayweather.

Love him or hate him there is no denying the greatness of Floyd Mayweather Jr. He is undefeated as a professional boxer, a title holder over five divisions and a defensive boxing master. Mayweather has long been considered one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

Mayweather combines blistering hand speed with a superb defensive technique, lightning-quick reflexes and pinpoint-accurate counterpunching. OK, in case you couldn’t tell, I think Mayweather is the best active boxer around. However, at some point age may begin to creep in and dull one or more of these senses and make the playing field a little more even.

It’s not the first time Alvarez has spoken about wanting to face Mayweather.

 

He stated as much before his bout with Shane Mosley. The fight against Mayweather never happened, but the desire to test himself against the best hasn’t gone away.

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Mayweather will not have fought in a year come May 2013.

While that is not unusual for Mayweather, a portion of that year was spent in a small cell during his incarceration from June to August of this year. I expected Mayweather to fight in November or December of this year to shake off the rust before taking on a big opponent in May. Maybe he feels he is in great shape and is just planning a May date for a blockbuster fight.

It is hard to tell with Mayweather.

 

Miguel Cotto

Cotto appears to have vanquished the demons he carried following his controversial loss to Antonio Margarito, a loss made controversial by Margarito being caught with loaded gloves prior to his defeat at the hands of Shane Mosley.

Looking back at the way Margarito brutally wore down Cotto in their first bout has me questioning whether his gloves were loaded going into the fight, a fight in which Cotto didn’t send a member of his team to monitor the wrapping of Margarito’s hands.

 

Following a blue patch that included the Margarito loss, a bloody battle with Joshua Clottey and a brutal beating by Manny Pacquiao, Cotto has returned to the top of the game. Moving up a weight class, winning a world title (again), successfully defending the title twice, avenging the Margarito loss and earning a fight with Mayweather has brought Cotto back to the top.

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The loss to Mayweather hasn’t hurt Cotto’s reputation. After all, there’s no harm in losing to the best when you drag them through a 12-round battle with you.

 

Sergio Martinez

Coming into his own later in his career, Martinez has shown himself to be a tremendous fighter in the last few years. His hand speed, movement, accuracy and power have allowed him to defeat bigger men than him in the Middleweight division and achieve several titles in the process.

In his most recent bout against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Martinez dominated the first 11 rounds against his much bigger opponent. He also showed great heart late in the fight to not only get up from a late knockdown but continue to take the fight to Chavez after the knockout. Many would have back peddled to ensure they win on points and not be knocked out.

 

Martinez, like Alvarez, has also stated his desire to face Mayweather. Will either one get that fight, or will they face each other?

 

Conclusion

Who Should Alvarez Fight

MayweatherCottoMartinezSomeone else, it’s too soon for that jumpSubmit Votevote to see results

Who Should Alvarez Fight

  • Mayweather

    24.9%
  • Cotto

    32.7%
  • Martinez

    32.7%
  • Someone else, it’s too soon for that jump

    9.6%

Total votes: 1,399

Any one of these fights would be considered a test to Alvarez, who, in spite of holding a title and being an undefeated fighter with over 40 bouts, has yet to face competition of this level. Kintron and Mosley were shadows of their former selves. Rhodes, N’Dou and Baldomir are not even close to the level of competition of the three names on his wish list.

 

 

Each fighter brings a different threat to Alvarez.

While both Mayweather and Martinez would bring great hand speed to negotiate, Mayweather also has a defense that many have tried to get through and few have succeeded. With Alvarez’s action-packed style, Mayweather could simply sit back and deflect blows before landing perfectly placed counters that will slow Canelo round by round.

Mayweather would also take advantage of the stiff upper body Alvarez often fights with.

With his constant pressure, Alvarez is a pretty static fighter with little lateral movement and almost no body movement. He provides a constant target to a fighter like Mayweather. Mayweather doesn’t even have to be half as accurate as normal to hit what’s always going to be right in front of him.

 

For me, a matchup with Mayweather right now is just a bad idea all around for Alvarez.

Mayweather will handle him with ease and Alvarez will be slated as overrated by everybody when the praise should really go to Mayweather’s excellence, but that’s another story all together.

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Like Mayweather, Martinez will exploit the lack of movement Alvarez presents.

Unlike Mayweather, Martinez will also be there to hit. Martinez’s defense is simply nowhere close to Mayweather’s, and he gets caught by a lot of punches a man with his speed and athleticism should be able to avoid.

 

If Canelo can avoid Martinez’s blows, or even keep so much pressure on Martinez that he cannot get any offense going, Canelo has a chance to knock Martinez out. Chavez almost managed it. Canelo has dedication to the craft and could follow through to the finish.

Cotto is not the fighter he once was, and I mean that in a good way.

The Cotto of old was predictable. He was going to lower his head and bull through you. He swung to the body with fury and then worked the head. Today, Cotto still pressures when the timing is right but has learned to sit behind his boxing and wait for the openings to present themselves.

 

This calmness and calculated attack that Cotto has added into his game makes him a dangerous opponent for Canelo, who reminds me at times of the young Cotto. Canelo can get ragged at times as he looks to apply more pressure, and this could be his undoing against somebody like Cotto, who is now content to sit and wait.

I think the most sensible fight for Canelo at this point in his career is Sergio Martinez.

Martinez will be coming back from a knee and hand injury, which could take the edge off his speed and a little snap from his punches. He is also fairly easy to hit and has been decked several times in his career, although he recovers quickly from knockdowns and takes the fight to his opponent as he recovers.

Against the other two, I see defeats for Canelo that would be damaging to his reputation.

Against Martinez, however, I think he has a better than even chance of winning. Even if he loses, it will be passed off as Martinez once again being underrated rather than Canelo being overrated.

My choice is Martinez vs. Alvarez.

My prediction is a ninth-round knockout victory for Alvarez.