Golovkin Must Continue Cleaning – Last week I wrote about heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz 25-0 (22), and how he may be too good for his own good. The focal point was that Ortiz, an efficient boxer-puncher, is too dangerous for any of the alphabet title-holders to defend their belts against because he’s not well known nor does he have much of a following – which translates into short money fighting him, accompanied by a massive risk. Hopefully, before he ages too far beyond his 37 years, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder will have to defend their belt against him.
Middleweight Gennady Golovkin 34-0 (31), who currently holds the IBO/IBF & WBA titles, is another outstanding fighter who seems to get better every time out. And like Ortiz, you can argue that Golovkin may be too good for his own good, only for different reasons. Ortiz’s frustration stems from the fact that there are plenty of good heavyweight title holders around for him to challenge……the hurdle for him is trying to get one of them to face him. The opposite holds true for Golovkin, and that’s because there’s not much of a bench at 160. Both are in a tough predicament and their earning potential has been affected dramatically because of it.
Golovkin is considered the most lethal fighter in the middleweight division, a division that has historically been one of the deepest and most competitive in professional boxing. It’s routinely stacked with outstanding contenders with the biggest alpha among them holding the title. Golovkin is surely the alpha fighter at 160 today, and if there’s a fighter in the division who can match-up with his physicality, I haven’t seen or heard of him. The only fighter in the division who slightly excites fans as far as being an opponent for Gennady is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 46-1-1 (32), who is the lineal champ. And for the past four or five months it’s been floated via the media that if Golovkin beats Domenic Wade 18-0 (12) this Saturday night and Alvarez beats Amir Khan 31-3 (19) next month, the two will fight later this year for the undisputed middleweight title — something I don’t think many hold out much hope in happening, but for argument sake, let’s suppose they do meet and Golovkin wins.
The sad truth is after Alvarez, there’s really not an exceptional middleweight (and I’m not even sure Alvarez is one) around whom one can imagine pushing Golovkin or giving him much of a fight. And that hurts Gennady’s chance to make millions of dollars and maybe even worse, it’ll be more difficult for him to build a legacy that rivals recent greats the likes of Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins.
It doesn’t take the most sophisticated observer around to grasp that Golovkin is a physical beast in the ring. But the middleweight division isn’t a terribly fast track in 2016. There are three fighters everyone brings up when trying to picture a super-fight in which Golovkin is part of the equation…..Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. Mayweather is a natural welterweight and if he were to fight Golovkin, he’d insist that Gennady weigh in at 155, and that would compromise Golovkin in a big way. Andre Ward has been a super middleweight his entire career and has recently moved up to light heavyweight. Which means Golovkin would have to venture north of his natural weight in order to be involved in a fight that would capture interest around the globe. As for Kovalev, he’s been fighting as a light heavyweight his entire career and would hold a distinct physical advantage over Golovkin.
There are so many reasons to like and root for Golovkin. He has an exciting style that insures his bouts, regardless of the opponent, will be action packed and more often than not end by stoppage. He’s improving as a technician and he is believable when he says he wants to fight the best of the best. Unfortunately, there isn’t another middleweight in the world qualified to fight him that’s an outstanding fighter, let alone a near great. Monzon, Hagler and Hopkins had the same problem after they cleaned out the division. With the difference being, the big names for those three to fight were welterweights and junior middleweights that moved up to 160. Monzon had great welters the likes of Emile Griffith and Jose Napoles who moved up to fight him. Hagler benefited from Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard all moving up to partake in super-fights with him, as did Hopkins when Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad packed on a few more pounds to challenge him for the middleweight title.
Golovkin isn’t as fortunate. The marque welterweights of today….Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Kell Brook and Timothy Bradley aren’t seen as a legitimate threat to GGG who one day, due to his fight altering power, may be seen as a near equal to Monzon, Hagler and Hopkins…..and the current elite welterweights aren’t near the fighters Griffith, Napoles, Duran, Hearns, Leonard, De La Hoya and Trinidad were. Only Mayweather offers Golovkin, in terms of stature and ability, what the aforementioned greats did for Monzon, Hagler and Hopkins. But unlike Leonard, Hearns, Griffith and the others, Mayweather’s not interested in really challenging himself. Floyd wouldn’t agree to the bout unless Golovkin was completely hamstrung contractually and agreed to enter the ring handcuffed literally and figuratively. So fighting Mayweather in a legitimate bout will never be offered to Gennady. This in turn leaves him two choices – move up and fight bigger guys and spot them weight or stay at middleweight and clean out the division.
Mike Tyson made a ton of money cleaning out a weak division and eventually retired as an all-time great. It’s not Gennady’s fault today’s middleweight division is so pedestrian and he’s perhaps a once in a generation fighter from a physical vantage point. It’s very plausible that he can build quite a legacy and bank account having final say at 160 for years to come by constantly being the author of highlight reel knockouts during his title defenses. It’s in his best interest to stay at 160, and if lighter weight fighters want to become middleweight champ, they know who to see.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
Check out “The Boxing Channel Looks At Golovkin vs Wade, Gonzalez vs Arroyo”.