CURIOSITY REVISITED: GGG REMAINS A PATIENT ASSASSIN
By Ben Dean
On May 20th 2013 I wrote an article entitled "The Curious Case Of Gennady Golvkin" which assessed Gennady "GGG" Golovkinís status as the middleweight boogeyman. After Golovkin's three-round destruction of Matthew Macklin last weekend, it's time for an update. When we left off, we contemplated the idea of whether GGG was a true boogeyman in his division, or whether boogeyman is a word we overuse in boxing. After Saturday night we have some answers.
Macklin is a guy who took Felix Sturm twelve rounds in a fight many felt Macklin lost only because of a bad hometown decision in Sturm's favor. Macklin also took world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez eleven rounds before losing via TKO. If you look at any of Macklin's four losses prior to Saturday night, they have all gone a minimum of ten rounds. He was seen as a true test, a legitimate middleweight contender and a guy known for his durability. But lasted just two full rounds vs GGG, and was taken out in spectacularly brutal fashion via a body shot in the third.
One glaring thing that stuck out to me as soon as the bout began was a height differential. Although, Macklin is listed at 5'10", and GGG 5'10Ĺ", it appeared Macklin was giving up at least 2-3 inches in height. Being that I didnít recall seeing a significant height difference at the weigh in face off, I concluded that Macklin was hunching over, while GGG was fighting tall. Big George (Foremanís) voice popped into my head, ďif youíre tall, fight tall.Ē I figured perhaps this was part of Macklinís strategy to get low and under Golovkin's power. As soon as GGG launched the first overhand right that smashed off of Macklinís face as he was crouched along the ropes, it became apparent Macklin's stance would not be effective.
The next underappreciated but monumentally important facet on display was Gennadyís footwork, somethin world super middleweight champion Andre Ward noted while announcing the fight on HBO. Unlike a lot of fighters that fall in love with their power and simply chase and follow opponents around the ring, GGG wasted no energy with non-purposeful movement. He stepped right, he stepped left. He cut off the ring time after time. Macklin seemed on edge, burning up energy from just the mental pressure a stalker like GGG exerts.
GGG on the other hand, seemed to like it in there. His facial expression was one of total relaxation, patiently stalking his prey with an assassin-like demeanor. It was chilling to see the patience he displayed. He appeared in no particular hurry, and fought like a man comforted by the fact that he knew Macklin may run, but could not outrun his fate.
Upon the detonation of the left hook GGG uncorked, you could see Macklinís face contort, before crumbling to the canvas in agony. As Macklin was crumbling, GGG loaded up a right, and mercifully pulled the punch. Perhaps the pulled punch was a gentlemanís gesture knowing that he had already destroyed his opponent.
This performance, along with Lucas Matthysseís recent pulverizing of Lamont Peterson, displayed exactly why both fighters are the most avoided in boxing, and boogeymen of their divisions. Golovkin displayed the exact reasons why Sergio Martinez has previously been uninterested in a fight with GGG. The same reasons why other titleholders (other than Dmitry Pirog who had signed to fight him but withdrew due to injury), are in no hurry to face him. The risk vs. reward ratio is just not enough to want to step into the lair of Golovkin, a true middleweight assassin.
While Martinez is still the world champion at 160 pounds, he would likely be the underdog if he signed to fight Golovkin. Martinez will be out until 2014 rehabbing knee and hand injuries, so Martinez-Golovkin is not a short-term option. However, when both were healthy make no mistake about it, Golovkin was willing, while Team Martinez was not. Editor's note: Martinez's promoter, Lou DiBella, told espn.com that Martinez is out for the remainder of 2013, will have a tune-up fight in the first half of next year and is willing to face Golovkin in September 2014.
While I have always appreciated the style and class of Martinez, I have been just as critical of him as I have of Nonito Donaire. If at age 38 he doesnít want to fight a killer like GGG, no one could blame him. But, donít build in the excuses. While ranking Martinez in my top 5 pound-for-pound, a few years ago it became clear that the two biggest threats to his middleweight supremacy were Pirog and Golovkin. I watched him make the typical excuses, like they donít have a big enough following, nobody knows who they are. They have to beat some people do deserve a shot at me. Which is fine, unless youíre fighting the likes of Dzinziruk, Barker, and Macklin; the latter who were unknown in the U.S. and the former who was smaller (154) and unknown in the U.S.
I watched Nonito Donaire, who I had rated as high as #3 pound-for-pound recently, offer up similar excuses to avoid Guillermo Rigondeaux. Eventually, Donaire fought Rigondeaux and lost, but for a time, the same reasons were offered for avoiding Rigo, while Donaire fought the likes of Omar Narvaez, Wilfredo Vasquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, and an old Jorge Arce. Surely, Rigondeaux was more deserving than this bunch. Iím high on Donaire, I like his talent but I call it like I see it. He built in excuses at to why he was in no rush to fight a fighter he was subsequently schooled by. I believe a similar fate would meet Martinez should he face off with GGG. Iíve always felt the way to beat Martinez (who seems to have stamina issues), is through intelligent pressure. Golovkin is the embodiment of intelligent, composed, stalking pressure. Sergio would wilt, and GGG would rip him to shreds. Iím sure of it. Truth be told, I felt Martinez lost his last fight to Martin Murray 114-113.
Golovkin is well on his way to fighting five times in 2013, like he vowed he would. If you throw in another two dominating performances, he may be a lock for fighter of the year. Iím on the record as stating I would favor him over any fighter 154-160. I may favor him over any fighter at 168 not named Andre Ward.
Sometimes a fighter becomes so dominant in his weight class, and he becomes so avoided that heís forced out of his weight class to make marquee fights. Unlike the Paul Williams example, I hope Team GGG camps out at 160 awhile. I admire their strategy of staying as active as possible, and I believe theyíre doing it the right way (in campaigning in their weight class and not jumping up and down in weight). If youíre active AND exciting, your following will come. His performance on Saturday was must-see TV. In reinforcing to us that he is indeed the middleweight boogeyman, he displayed the supporting evidence as to why that is the case.
Just like the movie ĎThe Professional,í there is a ďcleanerĒ campaigning at 160 pounds. Middleweight titleholders be forewarned, there is an assassin campaigning in your division.
Send questions and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org