Saturday night´s third round KO of tough Irishman Matthew Macklin at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut underlined what we already know about Gennady Golovkin; the WBA middleweight champ has vicious punching power.
Not freaky punching power, however.
Freaky punching power is different from regular KO punching power. Regular KO power is that displayed by powerfully built exponents like Mike Tyson and George Foreman, guys you know just by looking at them that they can take your head off with one shot. It´s also different from the KO power displayed by rangy, wiry fighters like Tommy Hearns and Carlos Zarate, who were obviously throwing their fight ending shots with bad intentions.
Freaky punching power is when a fighter connects with what appears to be a glancing blow, yet the results are spectacular. Very few fighters have that kind of power. Julian Jackson had it. Lucas Matthysse has it. Gennady Golovkin hits very hard, but his shots are more of the clubbing variety and have an accumulative effect. Unless of course, they land flush on the jaw, as we saw when he levelled Nobuhiro Ishida last march, or right on the liver, as we saw on Saturday night.
Golovkin is certainly the hardest hitting 160 pounder of the current era. He is also a very capable boxer with outstanding footwork, and appears to have phenomenal punch resistance and a bullet proof chin. The Kazakh German based 31 year old has never been floored in a boxing career that spans 350 amateur fights,(he won all but five) and 27 pro bouts (27-0, 24 KOs).
Is Golovkin heading for middleweight greatness? Certainly, in terms of title defences if nothing else, he is making a strong claim. He is the most active of all world champions at the moment, and Saturday´s win was his ninth in less than three years as champion. Golovkin has already fought three times this year, and could still squeeze in a couple more title defences before 2014. He is on course to surpass Marvin Hagler´s (12) and equal Carlos Monzon´s (14) tallies of title defences in the next two years, although he is still well short of Bernard Hopkin´s middleweight record of twenty.
It is unlikely that any of the other 160 lb belt holders – the IBF´s Daniel Geale and the WBO´s Peter Quillin will be knocking down walls to risk their titles and reputations against Golovkin. His dream opponent, WBC and Ring Magazine champ Sergio Martinez is sidelined with injuries until 2014. If Martinez does choose to box on when fit, he will be 39. Will the Argentinian have one more great performance let in him?
Golovkin may be at his peak right now, and needs to face an opponent that can really test him. His promoters built up Macklin as his toughest opponent yet, which on paper he was, but most boxing experts knew that the brave but defensively limited Irishman who loves nothing more than to get in to a war with an opponent was tailor made for Golovkin. From the opening bell, every assault Golovkin launched had Macklin is trouble. The body shot that ended the fight in the third was surely painful, but ultimately saved Macklin from a vicious beating.
There are middleweights out there that can give Golovkin a decent fight and show us exactly how good he really is. Felix Sturm for example may not be the fighter he was 4/5 year ago but he is still a great defensive strategist, a huge middleweight and vastly experienced. Britain´s Martin Murray is also excellent defensively, and came close to defeating the worlds best middleweight – Sergio Martinez – last time out.
Peter Quillin hits almost as hard as Golovkin, but is nowhere near as good technically. Daniel Geale is decent boxer with average power, but he is durable, fit and has a high work rate. The truth is neither man looks capable of testing Golovkin.
A motivated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would be a different matter. Chavez Jr has decent skills and KO power, plus a great chin. He also has great stamina and a ton of pride. When he fights, he does so for the whole Chavez legacy. While Golovkin waits for his crack at Martinez, Chavez Jr would be his biggest money maker.
Of course, the dream match-up for Golovkin would be the winner of the upcoming light middleweight super-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, scheduled to take place on September 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. You can bet your bottom dollar that Golovkin will be ringside for that one. Realistically, if Mayweather is victorious, he is unlikely to jump up to middleweight and face a man-killer like Golovkin. Alvarez however is another matter. The 22 year old is destined to become a middleweight sooner rather than later, so a meeting with Golovkin is inevitable.
Yet another possibility would be a catch-weight fight against super-middleweight star Andre Ward, Mayweather´s heir-apparent for the pound-for-pound top spot. A match-up between offensive master Golovkin and defensive maestro Ward could do good business.
Golovkin´s grasp of English is increasing at the same rate as his profile and popularity. He is that most marketable of boxing commodities; a fighter who delivers genuine excitement and drama and more often than not, a spectacular ending. If he keeps winning, two things are inevitable; that he will become one of boxing´s biggest stars, and that he will be mentioned in the same breath as middleweight legends like Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins.
Dan Hunter is the editor of The Boxing Post and the author of the weight training and fitness ebook Urban Muscle