It’s an exciting time to be an eighteen year-old boxing fan. Besides making a welcome change from political topics or lamenting over Liverpool’s failed title-challenge in 2014 (Yes, even over a year afterwards it’s still getting to me), boxing is a very raw, fascinating combat-sport and I’m glad that more and more people are becoming interested in it again. Boxing deserves to be back where it belongs; on the mainstream.
When my dad was my age, he enjoyed watching the ‘Fabulous-Four’ in what many like to call the Golden-Era of boxing. The aggression and overwhelming ferocity of Duran, the knockout power of Hearns, the formidable resilience and technical ability of Hagler, and the mercurial talent and adaptability of Leonard all gave rise to a series of enthralling style match-ups and a whole new generation of pugilistic aficionados.
After the anticlimactic debacle of Mayweather versus Pacquiao, which failed miserably to capture the imagination of the general public, boxing needs to resurrect himself. And it will, when two of my favourite fighters, the experienced Miguel Cotto and the precociously skilled Saul Alvarez trade leather on November-21st. I am unbelievably excited for this fight and I’m sure I will be kept awake at night in anticipation as the fight approaches. Both Canelo and Cotto are great warriors who I admire greatly, and I cannot wait to see them face off. My money is on the red-haired Mexican to be the eventual victor but I do believe Cotto will provide dogged resistance before he is halted in the late rounds.
On to more immediate business, one fighter I (and I suspect many others) have been watching with increased interest recently, is 33 year-old Gennady Golovkin of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Golovkin, who is the WBA and IBO middleweight champion of the word, has cultivated a reputation for being virtually invincible. This has been facilitated somewhat by his superlative amateur pedigree (345 alleged wins with only five defeats) coupled with his impeccable professional record. With 30 knockouts from 33 victories, he holds the record for the highest knockout-ratio percentage in middleweight-championship history.
What makes Golovkin such an intriguing fighter is not just the fact that he is undefeated, but also that he is seemingly undefeatable. Golovkin has been gifted with an impregnable chin — having a tendency to nonchalantly shrug off punches (sometimes even encouraging the other fighter to hit him harder) — and an indomitable will to win that has enabled him to overcome every single one of his professional opponents. What makes Golovkin such an intimidating fighter to go up against is that he lacks any ostensible weakness, asides from occasional defensive shortcomings; whether these are intentional or not is a source of contention among boxing fans. Indefatigability is also the watchword. Thanks to his fitness programmes that he undergoes under the watchful supervision of experienced trainer Abel Sanchez, Golovkin is not deficient in the fitness department and this is exemplified by his ability to relentlessly stalk his opponent throughout the fight. Golovkin’s supreme conditioning also prevents him from become overly fatigued during the later rounds and allows him to maintain a reasonably consistent work-rate.
In addition to his physical excellence and somewhat underrated boxing ability, Golovkin also possesses phenomenal power in both hands and is equally capable of rendering his opponent unconscious with a concussive haymaker, or immobilising them with a thunderous shot to the body. Former sparring partners have testified that he hits like a cruiserweight. Moreover, abundant rumours pervade the boxing world regarding the big names — some of them at higher weight-classes — that Golovkin has knocked-out or beaten-up in sparring sessions. With considerable childhood experience of street-fighting, Golovkin is definitely not afraid of exchanging and sometimes has a propensity to brawl, which makes him the quintessential crowd-pleaser. Very rarely does Golovkin take a backwards step during a fight, asides from retreating to a neutral-corner after a knockdown.
While he is patently capable of ending the fight in an instant if he lands flush, Golovkin also displays an acute awareness of effectively using footwork and strategy in the ring. Undoubtedly an intelligent fighter, Golovkin keeps his hands high, his guard tight, and methodically applies pressure to manoeuvre his opponents into positions in the ring where they are the most vulnerable.
When it gets too easy for Golovkin, however, he likes to entertain the crowd who presumably won’t appreciate early conclusions to all of his fights. When the Karaganda native is effortlessly dominating proceedings, he lowers his hands slightly, positively daring his adversary to do their worst — as evidenced in his last outing against the relatively light-punching, albeit talented Willie Munroe (Junior). Nevertheless, Golovkin is fighting David Lemieux, a man who hits like a sledgehammer and arguably possesses even greater power than Golovkin himself. There is a general consensus that Lemieux, despite being the underdog, is Golovkin’s toughest test to date. Furthermore, many commentators have suggested that Lemieux could be the man to finally hurt or perhaps drop Golovkin if he is defensively negligent. Although admittedly I would be surprised if granite-jawed Golovkin is even wobbled at any point in this fight.
One thing that must be taken into consideration is that battles, particularly ones of this magnitude, are psychological as well as physical. It is a truly terrifying moment for a Golovkin opponent when they connect and Golovkin still advances, insouciant and unflinching. Lemieux should not be taken in by this.
One thing is for sure: it will be an explosive, Hagler-Hearns encounter (while it lasts) but I believe ultimately that Lemieux — like so many before him — will succumb to the overwhelming pressure and go on the defensive — and Gennady Golovkin will then emerge victorious in a decisive and clinical fashion.
As a self-professed Golovkin fan, I’m watching this fight in England at rougly 5am on Sunday. And I cannot wait.