Well, it was tougher and lasted longer than most thought it would, but middleweight champ–yes I’m referring to him as the champ since he is clearly the top dog in the division–Gennady Golovkin 32-0 (29) dominated challenger Martin Murray 29-2-1 (12) this past weekend. Murray lasted until the 11th round before the fight was correctly halted with him having nothing left to offer Golovkin other than sheer will and toughness. But once again Gennady’s two handed punching power, physical strength, ability to cut off the ring and mix up his punches were too much for the best the middleweight division had to offer.
Before getting to Golovkin, let’s give Murray his well-deserved props. He didn’t just show up to prove that he belongs in the ring with Golovkin, no; he tried from beginning to end to beat him. And in doing that he gave the champ the toughest and longest bout of his professional career.
It was obvious to see early on that Golovkin had the greater skill and many more tools at his disposal. Murray lacked the needed power and imaginative offensive arsenal to force Golovkin into doing a single thing he didn’t want to do.
After being dropped twice by body shots in the fourth round, it was only a matter of time. Yes, Gennady was beating Murray’s body and his skills, but he couldn’t beat his heart. Luckily, the referee stopped the fight after Golovkin had Murray hurt and defenseless against the ropes early in the 11th round. But Murray never stopped trying to win even when it became apparent that there was nothing he could do to turn the fight in his favor. Many fighters would’ve bailed long before the 11th round if they had Golovkin stalking and beating on them for the previous seven, perhaps eight rounds like Murray did. In fact, I believe that had Murray been in the ring with lineal champ Miguel Cotto 39-4 (32) Saturday night, the title would’ve changed hands. Murray would’ve turned back everything and anything Cotto tried, and would’ve been better for the wear as the fight progressed.
I salute you Martin Murray, in putting up the fight you did against the baddest middleweight in the world. You better believe your stock has risen in the eyes of all boxing fans.
Back to Golovkin.
Let me say it now, yes, I’m stating the obvious, but let’s get it on the record…..there are no remaining stories about him at 160, except that he should not be forced to move up or down in weight. He’s the world middleweight boxing champion, and if anyone else thinks that they have a claim to that title and are not willing to face him, they’re kidding themselves. He should not be pressured into fighting the bigger Andre Ward 27-0 (14) or the smaller Floyd Mayweather, assuming he beats Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd. There are fights for Golovkin at 160, if only the other fighters had the stones to fight him. He shouldn’t budge from the weight. Golovkin came in at 158.9 for Murray. He probably walks around at 170. Ward and Sergey Kovalev walk around between 190 and 200, I’d bet.
From 1970-77 Carlos Monzon 87-3-9 (58) ruled the middleweight division. He made 14 successful title defenses against the best the world had to offer. He was utterly dominant and nobody complained about him not moving up to challenge undisputed light heavyweight champ Bob Foster. Three of Monzon’s higher profile defenses came against former welterweight champs Emile Griffith, twice, and Jose Napoles. And that was because he cleaned out the middleweight division. Towards the end of his reign a hard hitting beast of a fighter named Rodrigo Valdez emerged. In his last two defenses of the title Monzon was pushed to go 15 rounds in both fights versus Valdez. And Valdez even dropped Monzon during their rematch, yet Carlos stormed back and deservedly won the decision. Today Monzon is regarded as one of the five greatest middleweight champions in history by most historians. Back then Muhammad Ali was boxing’s true superstar, and only heavyweights were part of the super-fight landscape. However, when you thought of a middleweight, it was Monzon who you thought of because of his strangle-hold on the division.
Three years after Monzon retired, Marvin Hagler 62-3-2 (52) won the undisputed middleweight title in 1980. Like Monzon, Hagler cleaned out the division. Also like Monzon, Hagler’s three signature title defenses were against a former lightweight champ, Roberto Duran, and two former welterweight champs, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard. And that was because like Griffith and Napoles, Duran, Hearns and Leonard wanted to be the middleweight champ. Hagler was often publicly challenged by light heavyweight title holders Michael Spinks and Dwight Muhammad Qawi during his title tenure, but Marvin always turned a deaf ear to them.
Both Carlos Monzon and Marvin Hagler were natural middleweights and never struggled to make 160. They both knew they would be compromised dropping weight, and never cared to be the junior middleweight or welterweight champ. They let the smaller guys come to them. Monzon and Hagler routinely knocked out the best guys in their division in front of big audiences. Nobody had to wonder who the best guy in the division was. At the same time they both knew, in Monzon’s case, that he was no light heavyweight and stayed away from Foster. And the same applied to Hagler regarding Spinks and Qawi.
However, Sugar Ray Leonard was emerging during Hagler’s time and winning titles in multiple weights became the staple for supposed future great fighters. Yet Hagler never ventured out of the middleweight division, and today he’s most remembered for his total and complete dominance at his natural weight. Looking back, both Monzon and Hagler were wise to build their legacies in one division and remain icons today.
As of this time, Gennady Golovkin is the dominant fighter at 160. He is a natural middleweight. The difference today opposed to Monzon’s and the beginning of Hagler’s tenure is, the media is obsessed with the pound-for-pound ranking BS. I hope Golovkin isn’t sucked into that vortex. If he drains himself and drops to 154 and fights Mayweather or Alvarez, he really has nothing to gain. If he moves up too soon just to grab another belt or to partake in a super-fight match up, there’s a good chance he’ll lose to the significantly bigger Ward or Kovalev. And if he loses to them, his stock will drop and he won’t be seen as being so special.
Monzon and Hagler didn’t blow you away with their flashiness like Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones. They were just super solid and their dominance in one division is their signature, something no one disputes. Well the same applies to Golovkin. He’s got power in both hands and is solid fundamentally. He shouldn’t chase big name fights outside of his division. Right now he’s the first and last word in the middleweight division and it’s refreshing to know that now in two divisions, heavyweight being the other, everyone knows who the marquee fighter is.
Hopefully, Gennady will follow in the same footsteps as Monzon and Hagler and continue to dominate and own the division where he lives…..160 middleweight drive, population of one!
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFisted@Gmail.com