“People know who is who.” — Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin, November 2013
Sophisticated and distinguished, Gennady Golovkin is consistently polite when discussing his professional peers. An upbringing marked by tragedy and struggle, GGG engages very little in psychological warfare, preferring to ‘Mexican-style’ box and engage in the ring. A humble and gracious presence combined with a vicious killer instinct has allowed GGG the benefit of entering the ring favored amongst fans and students alike. His disposition outside of the ring forces each opponent to rise to the occasion before the first bell. They are fighting GGG; GGG isn’t fighting them. Not in a promotional capacity, record-wise nor standard-wise.
Golovkin publicly requests the biggest fights with top opponents to no avail; declaring these requests after his victories. Burdened by a reputation of constantly having a difficult time securing a formidable opponent, his record and performances loudly speak ahead of him. No one is calling out GGG, no one has beaten GGG, but the point is: no one has challenged GGG — inside or outside the ring.
REALITY OF THE LEGEND
On October 17th, 2014 Connor Ruebusch — Striking Analyst for BloodyElbow.com — provided his opinions on GGG ahead of the Golovkin-Marco Antonio Rubio match scheduled for October 18th, 2014. Ruebusch, a premier combat-sports writer, saw his fighter breakdown (“The Man, the Myth — Bad Left Hook’s technique analyst is here to spoil everyone’s fun, and point out that GGG might be regressing as a fighter”) published under the ‘Boxing Technique and Fight Analysis’ area of the Bloody Elbow website.
There should be grand hesitation with labeling the actual progression of GGG’s skills as regression, when the reality displays a reversion to rudimentary skills in order to ensnare his opponents to his liking. A truly high-level competitor with stunning results, look no further than his most recent victory — the second-round KO against Rubio. Despite the prediction of a victory for Rubio by several experts, the knockout was brilliantly designed and executed. The immediate reaction to the knockdown from Golovkin should silence all questions of his skills.
This is a man who has made hundreds of opponents fall before him.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” — Albert Einstein
GGG has such an enigmatic skill set, he can ‘regress’ by choice and essentially ensure himself a victory prior to gaining it by exponentially evaluating his opponent in real-time and deciding how to best inflict damage to completion. He has not only mastered his artistic process, he has perfected it.
The larger point is execution. The analytical results shown after studying any combat contestant can project strategies on how to best beat said contestant. A breakdown of strengths and weaknesses are nearly required for any combat camp training for success. While said strategies are subjective at best, a quorum can be reached and a game plan can be designed. The physical training and muscle memory required for said game plan becomes a crucial element. The mental dexterity and fight-night implementation become the most crucial element. Every opponent is studying and training how to beat GGG. Not one has come close.
Golovkin is currently displaying a variation of his enormous skill set; a cognizant regression with terrific results. There are zero opponents on his level, and the process unquestionably bears the results. The fight is the fight. It does not exist prior to the bell ringing; it does not exist in training or living or winning or losing.
Despite a ‘puncher’s chance’, a formidable opponent has yet to be revealed physically nor mentally. Since the boxing world at large began taking notice, every single opponent has been forced to train for GGG, to fight against GGG and to meet GGG on his level. He has not and will not find a formidable opponent within his weight range because one does not yet exist and will not exist during his reign. Not invincible — unstoppable. Imperfect but unbeaten.
- Orthodox Stance
- Gold Medal, 2003 World Amateur Boxing Championship
- Silver Medal, 2004 Olympics (Kazakhstan)
- Gold Medal, 2004 Asian Amateur Boxing Championship
- Defeated by Bronze-winner, 2005 World Amateur Boxing Championship
- Never knocked down in combined amateur and professional matches
- 345–5 amateur record
- May 2006: Professional debut
- 31–0 (28 KO) professional record
- Reigning WBA / IBO Middleweight Champion
- Highest KO ratio in Middleweight Championship history: 90%
- Twelve consecutive successful current Title defenses
- Seventeen consecutive knockout victories
“This is my style. This is my fighter style. I told you: first round, I’m just look at him. Just look at his tactic. My tactic: just fight. I show you (in) second round, and last round. Thank you very much.” — Gennady Golovkin, July 2014
The idea behind the Ruebusch piece was to demonstrate an expert analysis of Golovkin’s regressing skills, and the unavoidable downfall he faces because of his penchant for dramatic annihilation. Using the eighth professional fight in the career of Golovkin (versus Sergey Khomitsky) as “… Golovkin’s first real test … and his third best win overall” Ruebusch and colleagues provided GIF evidence and explained their positions with technical language and accountability. Due more to technique than opponent, these senior writers found the Golovkin-Khomitsky match as the peak reference point for GGG’s skill set and technical capabilities; a match which took place exactly one year and nineteen days after Golovkin made his professional debut.
“You’ll see a baby version of today’s Golovkin, more or less.”
- May 2007, Sergey Khomitsky
- Seven years ago / twenty-three professional matches ago
- Sandwiched between a referee decision and unanimous decision
- Subsequently not reached a decision since November 2008
“He didn’t crush him outright, as he is wont to do to opponents today, but he dismantled him piece by piece, and in some sense that’s more impressive.”
Why is beating Khomitsky in 2007 in five rounds more impressive than second-round KO’ing Rubio in 2014? Equal, maybe. More impressive? His boxing versus Khomitsky was more technically sound, less experienced and slower, success rate-wise.
He has found the ability to fall back on rudimentary skills without showing a single sign of being unable to dial up high-level skills if/when needed.
The Khomitsky fight shows a boxer seven years younger and seven years less confident is his ability to utterly destroy. His actual boxing technique is perhaps crisper, yet:
- the results are the same (or better over time)
- he was nearly a decade younger, turning twenty-five six weeks earlier
- one year into his professional career
The evidence of regression was chosen from his alleged best display over seven years ago. Since then, he has continued to win against higher-level opponents in increasingly dominant fashion.
The 2007 victory over Khomitsky gave Golovkin an 8–0 record.
In 2014, he is currently 31–0. Twenty-three fights later and seven years aged.
“Boxing is not a game of survival, but of domination. Golovkin is capable of being dominated. He simply has yet to meet the man who will do it.”
The current champion, thoroughly dominating and decimating his every opponent, has shown capable of being dominated? Who is this phantom opponent? Has GGG ever been actually attacked, or rather just merely hit with counter blows and minimal offensive output from opponents? Who is this next boxer to end GGG? What is his name? Where does he train out of? Boxing as a sport is so dearth of mainstream marketable talent, surely a formidable foe for GGG would be known by now.
The truth remains: his entire Division currently poses him zero problems, and only moving weight classes will potentially feature challenges.
There is no one in the world in the Middleweight division currently on GGG’s level. Every one of his ‘toughest tests’ has been smoked. GGG treats his professional adversaries like sparring partners; not via disrespect, but by allowing their desultory moments of success in otherwise overwhelmingly unequaled performances.
There is literally no evidence GGG is capable of being dominated, save for the very definition of boxing. The occurrences of Rosado (and few others) landing blows are not indicative of a man capable of being dominated, nor undesirable regression.
Difference between the 2007 and 2014 version of Golovkin:
Who amongst boxing’s lexicon has maintained the same aesthetics, the same sharp techniques all while producing greater-than or equal-to winning results? Clay, Jr.? Hopkins, Jr.? Smith, Jr.? Mayweather, Jr.? Jones, Jr.? Moore? Pacquiao? Tyson? Fighters make necessary adjustments in order to maintain a longevity of success, some with higher degrees of success than others. Golovkin is running through opponents without looking the least bit susceptible or concerned.
“I don’t think there’s anyone at 160 who can go twelve rounds with Gennady. I think that knockout streak will go on for a long time.” — Gary Shaw, July 2014
Boxing as a sport has a definition. The single-best technical boxer cannot perform and execute like GGG. Not every home run is Ken Griffey, Jr. Not every touchdown pass is Tom Brady. Michael Jordan scored a still-standing playoff-record sixty-three points against the Boston Celtics despite missing sixty-four regular season games on account of a broken foot. The greatest mark of superior athletes is the ability to generate a victory however possible — especially in individual sports. This is the fundamental point of competition. GGG accomplishes victories in increasingly effortless performances.
“Much like his fans, Golovkin now seems to view the KO as not a possibility, but an eventuality.”
He is not a robot. He is human, and this is a natural thought process. What evidence does he or his fans have to think otherwise? Perhaps if he were solely a power puncher with questionable technique? Yet Golovkin is one of the most intelligent and unmarked current boxers, and has exhibited increasingly painless and intellectual denouements of all challengers.
“What happens when he finally faces a fighter prepared to take him on? One who knows how not to be hit, or doesn’t care about getting hit in the first place? What happens when an opponent comes along who doesn’t admire Golovkin’s power as much as he does?”
Who is this opponent? Any potential prospects? Different weight divisions?
“Eventually the legend will outgrow the man; fans of Triple-G must entertain the very real possibility that it already has, and that the man just doesn’t know it yet.”
There is no “legend” to GGG which trumps his record and manner in which he accumulated his record. The “legend” status evaporated once U.S. fans gained notice. Already an international competitor, his record and every single one of his performances created this legitimate legend. It’s appropriate, built on a chronicle of successful performances and supremely warranted.
Thus far, Golovkin is a transcendental athlete; one able to break the rules and still succeed. The credence “discipline trumps conviction” is surely occasionally accurate, but athletes like GGG transcend rules from their ability to achieve victories with individualistic approaches. GGG is disciplined in his convictions and yet to be defeated.
Because his boxing technique has been less crisp or sound than the ilk of a boxing trainer simply cannot discredit his record nor his performances. He could fight like Tommy Conlon in Warrior and the record would speak the same. However, GGG is dominating opponents, avoiding decisions and winning in highly artistic and most-often brutal fashion. To say his technique is flawed and will directly lead to him being dominated by a phantom future opponent is dishonest and based on ghost stories.
“… it’s pretty clear that Golovkin is a special fighter. He’s the best I’ve ever fought.” — Matthew Macklin, January 2013
ARRIVING IN AMERICA
“Before joining Abel Sanchez and breaking through in the US, Golovkin was an efficient, intelligently crafted boxer-puncher. Defense and offense were not only equally present in his style, but mutually beneficial. That Golovkin could counter, fight reasonably well off the back foot, and keep from being hit when he had his opponent on the ropes.
The contemporary Golovkin is a fighter for whom offense and defense are almost completely separated, and the gap between the two seems to be growing wider and wider with every knockout win.”
The theory of Golovkin’s skills regressing from a technically-flawless first-year performance in 2007 is extinguished from any starting position, especially his professional American arrival in 2012. Signing with California-based K2 Promotions and famed trainer Abel Sanchez in 2010, Golovkin went 5–0 (5 KO) under the tutelage of Sanchez prior to his American debut in 2012.
- September 2012, Grzegorz Proksa: Making his U.S. and HBO debut, Golovkin defeated Proksa (32–3, 21 KO) by fifth-round technical knockout in an IBO and WBA World middleweight title fight in Verona, New York. EBU Middleweight Champion Proksa had never been knocked down in either his amateur or professional career, and entered the Golovkin match with a 28–1 professional record.
- January 2013, Gabriel Rosado: Four months later, Golovkin defeated Rosado (21–6–0, 13 KO) by seventh-round TKO in an IBO and WBA World Middleweight title fight at Madison Square Garden Theater in New York. Although Rosado admirably moved up six pounds to challenge the champion for his title, Rosado’s trainer threw in the towel in Round Seven due in part to a hemorrhaging gash over his eye.
- March 2013, Nobuhiro Ishida: Only nine weeks after Rosado, Golovkin defeated Ishida (24–9–2, 9 KO) by third-round KO in an IBO and WBA World Middleweight title fight in Salle des étoiles, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Ishida was knocked out for the first time in his career by Golovkin’s right hand in the third round. Golovkin would send Ishida literally through the ropes, helping GGG win Yahoo Sports’ “Knockout of the Year” and USA Today’s “Fighter of the Year” amongst several other year-end awards honoring his 2013 achievements.
- June 2013, Matthew Macklin: Three months later, Golovkin defeated Macklin (29–5–0, 20 KO) by third-round KO in an IBO and WBA World Middleweight title fight at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut. His again-alleged toughest challenger to date, GGG ruined Macklin for two rounds until ending him with a left-hand body shot in Round Three. Golovkin elevated his record to 27–0, with 24 of those wins by knockout.
- November 2013, Curtis Stevens: Golovkin defeated Stevens (25–4–0, 18 KO) by eighth-round technical knockout in an IBO and WBA World Middleweight title fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Golovkin scored a knockdown of Stevens in Round Two with a left hook — a knockdown which Stevens barely survived. At the end of Round Eight, Stevens’ trainer told the referee to stop the fight. It was Golovkin’s ninth successful defense of his WBA title and sixth of his IBO title.
- February 2014, Osumanu Adama: Three months later, GGG returned to Salle des étoiles for his tenth title defense, defeating former title challenger Osumanu Adama (22–3, 16 KO) by seventh-round referee stoppage in Monte Carlo. Despite Adama never being knocked out in his professional career, Golovkin scored his sixteenth-consecutive knockout victory when he dropped Adama in the first, sixth and seventh rounds before the match was stopped.
- July 2014, Daniel Geale: GGG defeated former unified and three-time Middleweight champion Geale (30–2, 16 KO) via third-round referee stoppage, this time at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Geale was dropped in the second and third rounds — the latter proving too much to overcome. Geale hit Golovkin flush with a right hand, a punch capable of knocking out many other men. Yet Golovkin improved to 30–0 with his seventeenth straight knockout and twenty-seventh overall, giving him a knockout rate of ninety percent — the highest in Middleweight history.
- October 2014, Marco Antonio Rubio: Again only three months later, Golovkin won his championship unification bout against interim WBC Middleweight champion Rubio (59–6–1, 51 KO) via second-round technical knockout in Carson for his California debut. As Rubio failed to make the appropriate 160-pound weight limit, the belts were for Golovkin only. The knockout was yet another display of his brilliance and physical dominance.
Rosado threw in the towel. Ishida went through the ropes. Macklin made it to the third round. Stevens threw in the towel after eight rounds — he barely made it out of the second. Adama was knocked down three times before a seventh-round referee stoppage. Geale made it three rounds. Rubio made it one-and-a-half rounds.
His opponents’ fear before the fight is a part of boxing. Getting hit — particularly with counters — is a part of boxing. He may eventually get hit hard, or lose, or even get dominated — this is boxing. To deny he is an elite talent or special fighter or simply great is ridiculous. Following technique alone does not mold nor produce a great boxer.
He has a reputation for having difficulty booking willing opponents, who generally fear him before even getting in the ring. These are aspects of boxing. He cannot be penalized for owning the mental edge in every single match. He never goes in unmatched or as the B-fighter — he has earned this. Many of his knockouts, including his recent work of Geale and Rubio are designed with cerebral foresight and executed beautifully to perfection.
Notably, Golovkin is thirty-three years old as of April 2015. Not an “up and comer” nor burgeoning prospect.
Golovkin is imperfect. He gets hit. He takes chances. He is a professional boxer, of course. Yet to allege he has been in trouble, faced stiff tests or shown the penchant to be dominated is false.
- January 2013, Gabriel Rosado
- Second career fight in U.S.A.
- First Madison Square Garden fight
- Retained WBA and IBO Middleweight Titles
“King” Rosado, a light Middleweight and former interim NABA, USA Pennsylvania State and WBO Intercontinental Light Middleweight Champion, entered the match on a seven-fight win streak. After losing to Golovkin in early 2013, Rosado subsequently went 0–2–1 in his following three matches, with his next loss amended to a No Contest only after his opponent tested positive post-fight for a banned substance.
Golovkin simply dominated his strongest competition despite the reporting and recollection stating otherwise:
“By crushing the young, promising Rosado, Golovkin sold himself to the North American boxing market like never before.
He did crush Rosado, right?
Actually, no. Though most remember Rosado’s split eyebrow and the numerous punches that Golovkin landed in the early and late rounds of the bout, they tend to forget the success that Rosado had in rounds four, five, and six, wherein he successfully evaded many of Golovkin’s shots and fired back with meaningful counters.”
The CompuBox numbers posit otherwise:
The reoccurring analytical thread of dominance was best personified at the conclusion of the Rosado match, both by numbers and physical ruin. Rosado even dastardly manufactured a mini-controversy regarding glove-size in the months following his loss to GGG — as nonsensical as claiming Rosado had noteworthy moments of success.
“I gotta stop it. Your son’s gonna die, man!” — Billy Briscoe, January 2013
GGG sets up and subsequently executes his boxing as a man without fear. He sets up and capitalizes on his opponents mistakes/openings far more frequently than allowing himself to be exposed or significantly hit.
Little boxing is allowed to take place in any of Golovkin’s fights due to his style. He is constantly coming forward, constantly on the attack and constantly steps ahead of his foe. While his technical boxing may have holes, his overall presence inside the ring makes it nearly impossible for any opponent to establish their own will or fight their own fight. Part of this is due to pre-match fear (again, leverage manifested by Golovkin) and part is because of his in-fight technique. He is far from a one-punch KO artist; he breaks down his rivals as best and quickly as possible, using cunning intelligence and a mastery of his individual skill-set. Adroit and dynamic, yet detractors point to his shortcomings and flaws as means to defeat.
In order to truly establish his style and self in the ring, Golovkin has to compromise, as all fighters do. His constant offensive style is not only unbeaten, it flusters opponents’ game plans. Moreover, the compromises Golovkin submits to are technique and movement. He cannot be as fluid and athletic and yet still constantly come forward, constantly attack. He gives up flexibility for dexterity in order to maintain his presence. This formula has worked for him and continues to work for him.
- November 2013, Curtis Stevens
- Broadcast in over one hundred countries
- Retained title for the ninth time / fourth of 2013
- Recorded fifteenth consecutive knockout
“The kind of movement utilized by Golovkin in that Khomitsky sequence would have worked beautifully here, and would have given the Kazakh safe opportunities to hit Stevens. Instead, Golovkin stands directly in front of one of the hardest punchers in the middleweight division and tries to loop punches around his gloves.”
Standing directly in front of Stevens was the strategy Golovkin successfully deployed. Intentionally. Stevens was two seconds away from a TKO loss in the middle of the second round; approximately ten seconds away from a KO loss at the end of the round. To suggest Golovkin should have employed the same technique from a match seven years ago against a lesser-ranked opponent which took him longer to defeat?
“Stevens is another opponent whom most remember as an easy win for Golovkin, but I recall a surprisingly stiff test. It was also a fight that revealed the limitations of Golovkin’s new style even when he was winning convincingly.”
To think he presented a stiff test — when? Where? How stiff was the test when Steven’s corner threw in the towel, not after one particular round but eight rounds of dominance? How tough could those eight rounds have been on Golovkin, ahead in every facet of the match prior to destroying Stevens beyond return?
Most of Stevens’ strikes and success came from near-guessing. He wasn’t establishing his rhythm or game plan, nor stringing his punches together in successful order. He was flinging jabs, countering with whatever offense he could muster and obviously landed some shots.
This is boxing. Never has there been nor will there ever be a combat sport contestant who doesn’t get touched.
Mid-sixth round is classic GGG versus an offensive opponent. He stays near, allowing Stevens several clean shots while remaining close yet defensive. Immediately, all of Stevens’ output is extinguished by GGG. It is very obvious he is precisely waiting for his opponent, allowing Stevens to connect not due to inability to defend but to ensnare. Brilliantly executed.
Nearly all of the Stevens’ output is returning volleys. He is rarely able to attack first, or establish his style.
“Some might see one fighter dominating another, but what I see is a fighter who doesn’t seem to know how to move around his opponent. There is absolutely no reason to stand in front of a puncher like Stevens.”
Huge difference between choosing not to, and not knowing how to. To suggest GGG doesn’t know how to is ludicrous, combined with the results would prove he knows exactly what he’s doing in the ring. Simply standing in front of Stevens and his heavy hands again lends credence to GGG being unstoppable. Not only did he physically withstand them, he mentally shut Stevens down once Stevens realized his hardest shots were being eaten.
Rather, it was Stevens who was unable to adapt and figure out how to make his mark on the fight. Seemingly unable to get around GGG’s stance, he was reduced to a defensive shell for the majority of the fight, lashing out in brief combos with varied degrees of minimal success.
Why doesn’t anybody call out GGG?
Why aren’t other boxers clamoring to face him, both for ego and payday?
Why hasn’t anyone responded to him — verbally or physically?
It appears his alleged regression is by design. He is able to eat direct shots from his opponents and still put forth his strategy. As he is often saying ‘Mexican Style’, GGG prefers to engage. He prefers to absorb his opponent’s blows as a price for sticking to his strategy. Opponents are sneaking hits in, not getting lucky nor surprising him. He is aware of the engagement and seems confident in his ability to persevere every time, and every time he has been correct.
His strategy is to engage. As this requires strikes to be exchanged, Golovkin has successfully gambled on his strategy to triumph.
Not the defensive wizard of Willie Pep, GGG is hardly a sieve. He seems keen on relying on his power and courage to absorb what little offense his opponents are able to muster in order to exert his will and go after the victory. Stevens’ blows did absolutely nothing to impede Golovkin, and some of them landed crispy clean.
Boxing corners rarely throw in the towel. The towel is thrown once it’s apparent to the experts their guy is no longer able to be competitive. While GGG didn’t split Stevens open as he did Rosario, Stevens’ corner was smart enough to realize their fighter couldn’t effectively hang with GGG and cashed in four rounds early.
Stevens was able to land punches at the end of fourth / beginning of fifth rounds. They hit Golovkin directly; he walked through them. Perhaps a ‘greater’ boxer will eventually make those direct shots count, but make no mistake: Rosado was GGG’s stiffest test at the time, as was Macklin, as was Stevens, as was Geale, as was Rubio. Three other opponents were destroyed during that fragment of time as well. While Golovkin was certainly hit in those matches, he dominated and ended each one with an artistic victory.
By persistently carrying himself with a calm inclination, by naturally exhibiting a killer instinct whenever professionally possible, by continuing to evolve and analyzing opponents and adapting accordingly, Golovkin has established himself amongst the zenith of modern elite boxers.
While Golovkin will continue to regularly hold the intellectual advantage, his capacity to inveigle opponents combined with his power make him an incredibly difficult draw for any boxer even near in weight division.
Enforcing his style upon his opponent only after allowing the opponent to expose their own skill sets.
Prone to exhibiting blatant disregard for his opponents’ power only after gathering the relevant information.
“… if history has taught us anything, it’s that discipline trumps conviction in the end.”
Golovkin continues to prove this as sentiment and not fact. Unconventional, unpopular, unappealing: the results are what matter, especially in professional sports. Especially in boxing of the highest caliber. Golovkin displays faith in his conviction while abandoning technical discipline with increasingly outstanding results. While he may lose a match, no style is invincible, no technique unbeatable. Golovkin displays supreme confidence in himself and this alone is the single-most important discipline necessary for any proclivity towards success.
“I don’t think he’s overrated. There’s no one at 160 that’s going to beat that guy. Golovkin is as good as they say he is.” — Gabriel Rosado, January 2013
- February 2015, Martin Murray: Golovkin and Murray (29–1–1, 12 KO) have signed to fight each other, with GGG returning to Salle des étoiles, Monaco for HBO. Martin, a division contender and current WBC Silver Middleweight champion, twice outpointed Sergey Khomitsky in England: November 2009 in Wigan and December 2013 in London.
GGG is capable of losing; anyone is. One (usually) does. Beyond the reality behind the competition of boxing, he is also capable of losing simply because while unstoppable, he is not invincible. Individual strengths and weaknesses and technology allows for repeated technical breakdowns of his fighting repertoire.
Gennady Golovkin is amongst the highest-level of participants within combat sports and his physical capabilities are trumped only by his brilliant fighting acumen. His intelligence within boxing and mastery of the reactionary and evolutionary nature of the sport itself are displayed during each one of his matches.
“Hey man, go into (your) home, just tell your parents just, ‘Hi. I come back.’ Thank you.” — Gennady Golovkin, November 2013