It’s reached the point now in which fans tune in to see him fight, not to ponder the outcome because they’re sure they already know it, but more-so to see how long his opponent will last and if by chance they will land anything meaningful that just might get his attention. If you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about WBA/IBF/IBO middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin 34-0 (31), who along with Sergey Kovalev 29-0-1 (26), Terence Crawford 28-0 (20), Roman Gonzalez 44-0 (38) and Anthony Joshua 16-0 (16) are probably the top-5 must see fighters in professional boxing. And it isn’t a coincidence that all five are undefeated and hold a world title in the division in which they compete. Oh, and they also share something else stylistically….all of them are relatively good boxers who possess fight altering power in at least one hand.
This Saturday night Golovkin defends his titles against Dominic Wade 18-0 (12), who is the IBF’s mandatory challenger. Wade is a decent fighter and one who usually gets into incredible condition for his bouts. This is something he’ll need when the bell rings and he touches gloves with Golovkin, because the strain of trying to hold Gennady off is both mentally and physically taxing. The fight is on HBO. In the semi-windup, WBC World flyweight champ Roman Gonzalez defends his title against McWilliams Arroyo 16-2 (14). And like Golovkin, Gonzalez is a two handed assassin with even more skill and versatility.
Golovkin is an attacking swarmer who is an adequate boxer and uses his jab to set up his power. His punching power and physicality have been too much for every opponent he’s had in front of him since turning pro in May of 2006. Golovkin has an abundance of boxing strength and you can tell that it’s something he was blessed with at birth. In every one of his high profile bouts, when he was confronted by a fighter whose forte was boxing, he overwhelmed them physically and didn’t allow them to box – no, they were forced to fight him off and trade. Conversely, if his opponent was known for their power and ability to fight and trade, it wasn’t long after sampling Golovkin’s best that they had a change of heart and attempted to box him in an effort to extend the fight in hopes of finding a weakness in him. Neither strategy has paid off and he’s steamrolling through the middleweight division. If he has a weakness or vulnerability, it has yet to surface.
Since Golovkin’s seven round stoppage over Gabriel Rosado back in January of 2013, it’s hard to find an opponent among his last nine challengers, with the exception of Curtis Stevens and one or two others, who actually came in trying to win. And of the few who did, they gave up on the idea after two or three rounds. The fact is, he’s a once in a generation physical force and in conjunction with that, the middleweight division is suffering through a talent drought not seen for decades. At this time it looks as if his biggest challenges will come a year or two down the road when he slows a little bit and some of the better young fighters in the divisions closest to middleweight begin to blossom. However, at this time all Gennady can do is fight who they put in front of him. He’s reached the point, just as Bernard Hopkins did circa 1996-2004, to where he’ll likely be criticized if he turns in a less than devastating performance, but he’ll also be chastised for the choice of opponent if he completely dominates.
As the countdown begins to Golovkin vs. Wade, many fans and media believe Wade’s case is hopeless and his career will end when he loses to Golovkin. This is not necessarily true. In a way, Dominic is playing with house money – and the reason for that is, nobody really expects him to compete with GGG let alone win the bout. What’s lost is how well coming in second can affect the loser’s future paydays. A brave performance can lead to another title shot and big money.
Yes, Dominic Wade has to convince himself by fight night that Golovkin is just another fighter, and like George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones before him when they were killing everybody, he’s beatable. Looking back all these years later, Foreman, Tyson and Jones looked even scarier than Golovkin does now. And nobody imagined in their wildest dreams that not only would all three of them lose as a 3-1, 42-1 and 4-1 favorite, but they’d be counted out when they finally lost.
If somehow Wade can extend Golovkin and not fight like a deer trying to drink water from a pond, there will be a tomorrow for his career. Perhaps if he goes down fighting the way Rosado and Stevens did against Golovkin, fans will remember Wade and have interest when he fights again. That’s certainly been the case pertaining to Rosado and Stevens since they were stopped by Gennady. I think it’s safe to assume most knowledgeable fans realize life-takers with the power and physicality of GGG don’t stroll into boxing gyms around the world every day. Along with that, they grasp it’ll take a special fighter to hold off a fighter like Golovkin for 12 full rounds. And since those fighters can’t be manufactured or created, seeing elite fighters like Golovkin, Kovalev and Gonzalez etc bested isn’t an everyday occurrence, so fans will make room for fighters who show up in great shape and give it all they have in trying to knock off the emerging superstars.
With insurmountable odds against him, the best case for Wade is he loses without being demolished and later that night he can take solace in either extending Golovkin a few rounds and forcing him to really have to work -or- perhaps he can land a big shot on Gennady’s chin and make his legs do something unexplained for a second or two. Prior to the first round bell, not many boxing fans will have seen Wade. They expect to see a sacrificial lamb, one who won’t be upright long enough to make an impression on them. Well, here’s Wade chance to be remembered tomorrow. In order for that to happen he has to at least try to beat Golovkin and not fight to survive. It doesn’t matter if he gets KO’d in the first round, as long as he went out in the midst of trying to put Golovkin in the second row of the ringside seats.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com