This weekend one of boxing’s emerging stars is taking the stage again. The fighter in question has authentic star power and has the capacity to deliver something all boxing fans love and clamor for, and that is fights which often end in spectacular fashion due to him being blessed with natural two-handed punching power.
His name is Gennady Golovkin 30-0 (27) and he owns the highest knockout percentage in middleweight championship history.
What titles he might hold aside, Golovkin is the premier and alpha fighter in boxing’s middleweight division. Some of that is in part by default due to the middleweight division not being all that it once was and usually is. The other side of the equation is Golovkin really is all that he has been built up to be and probably would’ve been more than formidable during any era in middleweight history. Gennady presents his opponents two big problems on fight night. For starters he can really punch, and he does it so naturally. His power isn’t forced; he kind of just releases it. And that aides him in the stamina department because it flows so smoothly without him really over-extending himself.
The other mountain he confronts his opponents with is this: he applies solid bell-to-bell pressure. He’s not nearly as relentless as say a “Smokin” Joe Frazier, but he’s on you more than Mike Tyson, whose pressure came more in spurts and waves. Nothing breaks a good fighter mentally and physically more than pressure, especially if it’s backed up by one-punch fight altering power. Also, the fact that Golovkin is usually on the attack ensures that he’s more likely to deliver his power than other fighters who look to set you up or wait for the perfect opening before they really get off and cut loose.
His opponent this weekend, Marco Antonio Rubio 59-6-1 (51), will enable Golovkin to add to his growing reputation as a legitimate life-taker and killer. Rubio’s style and mindset is just what the doctor, and HBO, ordered for this fight. With the exception of Manny Pacquiao and Andre Ward, HBO doesn’t have a deep bench littered with certified stars. However, with Golovkin’s fan friendly style and willingness along with the most talked about light heavyweight in boxing, Sergey Kovalev, (who fights Bernard Hopkins next month) the future is looking up.
Rubio has the ideal style to enable Golovkin to look his best. He’s not great at any one thing, but does most things better than average, and that will help keep Gennady’s sense of urgency pretty much locked and loaded during the bout, as long as it lasts. Marco is a better than an adequate puncher; actually he punches pretty good but no harder than recent Golovkin opponent Curtis Stevens. However, he is very predictable, doesn’t have the greatest chin and as we saw, Kelly Pavlik and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had no trouble at all in backing him up and forcing him to try and fight off of the ropes. And Golovkin is better at working you over while against the ropes than either Pavlik or Chavez Jr. In addition to that, from what we’ve seen in his recent bouts, Golovkin takes a good shot, so it’s not likely that Rubio can keep Gennady off of him even if he catches him with a desperation shot while he’s looking to stabilize the fight and impede Golovkin’s aggression.
Another issue of concern if you’re cheering for Rubio is, although it’s an admirable trait and a crowd pleasing choice, Marco will try and fight Golovkin. And that’s exactly what Gennady wants. Then again, what real choice does Rubio have? It’s not like he has the luxury to pick his spots and try to box Golovkin. That’s not who Rubio is. If he runs, he’ll stink the place out and lose every minute of the fight if he doesn’t get stopped. And that’ll guarantee he will never again partake in a main event televised on HBO. Rubio’s only really shot is to try and power-box Golovkin. And when I say power box, I mean he must try to commit to his punches with both feet planted on the canvas so he can get something on them. Yes, at some point he’ll have to stand his ground. If he’s just pushing his hands out there and really only looking to get out and away from Golovkin, Gennady will pick that up quickly. And once he’s sure Rubio isn’t really punching at him with any serious intentions or conviction, he’ll raise the rent and escalate the pressure.
When all is said and done, plans and strategies are great. The cookbook is never wrong and it’s undefeated in the perfect world. But boxing is a physical sport conducted in an imperfect world. An abundance of physicality, which Golovkin possess, usually trumps the best thought out battle plans and strategies. And from this vantage point, based on what we’ve seen from both fighters, Golovkin’s power and pressure will be too much for Marco Antonio Rubio to overcome. Rubio’s boxing style and mindset are the perfect combination for Golovkin to excel and look great against in his climb up the ladder as one of boxing’s newest must see fighters.
Look for the baby faced killer’s star quotient to grow in leaps and bounds after this fight. Observers and fans can’t get enough of fighters who are legitimate punchers and who are willing to fight the best available opposition. And right now it appears that Gennady Golovkin fits that bill. He really has been a pleasure to watch.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com