Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez continued their destructive ways on Saturday night with dominant victories over Dominic Wade and McWilliams Arroyo. It was the third time in a row that the two champions (who are widely regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world) were paired on an HBO telecast.
Gonzalez (now 45-0, 38 KOs) is 28 years old and plies his trade at the 112-pound flyweight limit. The 30-year-old Arroyo (now 16-3, 14 KOs) was the best available opponent.
Arroyo said all the right things during the build-up to the fight. “I didn’t just start yesterday,” he told the media during an April 18 conference call. “I’ve been boxing all my life. I’m in boxing to fight the best. It has been my dream since I was a little kid to fight on HBO and to fight the best in the world.”
But the problem with fighting the best is that you’re fighting the best. And while Arroyo takes a good punch, he doesn’t have one. By round three, the beatdown had begun and McWilliams’s face was showing signs of bruising and lumping up. Then, to make matters worse for Arroyo, two minutes into the fourth stanza, the sole on his right shoe fell off.
Gonzalez dominated throughout, throwing punches like a non-stop assault weapon; 1,132 in all over the course of twelve rounds. He outlanded Arroyo by a 360-to-193 margin with a 311-to-148 advantage in power punches en route to a 120-108, 119-109, 119-109 triumph on the judges’ scorecards. The only negative in “Chocolatito’s” performance was that he couldn’t knock Arroyo out.
Golovkin didn’t have that problem.
Most devastating knockout artists have an aura of menace outside the ring as well as in it. Golovkin is cut from different cloth. In a social setting, Gennady might be mistaken for a computer geek. Inside the ropes, think merciless . . . inexorable . . . relentless . . . “Boxing is not a game,” he says. “This is fighting.”
Wade, age 26, was the mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s IBF middleweight belt by virtue of a split-decision triumph over 41-year-old Sam Soliman last June. Dominic entered the ring with 18 victories and 12 knockouts in 18 fights. But there were zero wins over world-class fighters on his resume.
At a February 18 kick-off press conference in New York, Wade said all the right things regarding the mountain he had to climb: “All Golovkin has is his strength. It ain’t no style I’ve never seen . . . Willie Monroe had the style to beat him, but he didn’t have the power and he got tired . . . I’ll prepare for whatever I have to. That’s what training camp is for . . . I’ll adjust the way I have to when we get in the ring . . . You do what you gotta do when you get hit. When I get hit, I’ll do what I gotta do.”
Nine days before the fight, Wade proclaimed, “I’m ready for April 23rd. It’s going to be a beautiful night. Everybody is kind of underestimating what I can do and how I perform. That night I can show it.”
When fight night arrived, the odds were roughly 40-to-1 in Golovkin’s favor.
Gennady has turned into a ticket-seller. The Forum in Inglewood was sold out with 16,353 fans in attendance.
Late last year, trainer Abel Sanchez said of his fighter, “They all think Gennady is overrated until they get in the ring with him.”
Other testimonials have come from vanquished opponents.
Matthew Macklin, who Golovkin knocked out with a body shot at Madison Square Garden three years ago, recounted, “It’s easy to be relaxed when someone can’t hurt you. When they can, it’s a different story. With Golovkin, you burn up a lot more nervous energy and you’re panicked into making mistakes.”
Daniel Geale, who met a similar fate at Gennady’s hands the following year, observed, “Golovkin can do anything he wants in there.”
Wade felt Golovkin’s power in the first minute of the fight, spent the second half of round one trying ito tie Gennady up, and was decked by an overhand right near the end of the opening stanza. One minute 50 seconds into round two, a left uppercut followed by a right to the shoulder put Dominic on the canvas for the second time. A third knockdown, courtesy of a straight right hand, ended matters with a ten count at the 2:37 mark of round two.
“His power is real,” Wade said afterward. “It was more than I expected.”
Golovkin has now knocked out 22 consecutive opponents. His record stands at 35-and-0 (32 KOs) with victories in seventeen consecutive middleweight championship fights. Sixteen if one discounts his June 14, 2010, knockout of Milton Nunez, when Gennady won an “interim” WBA belt. That puts him four successful consecutive title defenses behind Bernard Hopkins’s record of twenty.
As for Wade, he had his 517 seconds of fame and is unlikely to be in the spotlight again.
When boxing was at its most popular, there was one champion in each weight division and the best of the rest wanted to fight him. Now too many fighters look for an easier way to win a “world championship.”
Golovkin needs inquisitors to prove his greatness, but true inquisitors will be hard to find. Canelo Alvarez shows every sign of readying to exchange his WBC “middleweight world championship” belt for some other bauble that the sanctioning body will bestow upon him rather than fight Gennady. Meanwhile, Floyd Mayweather is likely to come back. But it won’t be against Golovkin.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at email@example.com. His most recent book (A Hurting Sport) was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.