Those Calling on GGG to Move Up – Many boxing observers have been asking why middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin 36-0 (33) hasn’t moved up in weight — especially when he had a chance to fight former undisputed super-middleweight title holder Andre Ward, who is fighting light heavyweight title holder Sergey Kovalev in November in what has to be the most anticipated bout since the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao showdown back in May of 2015.
Awhile back there was talk of Golovkin taking on Ward but they couldn’t agree on the weight. It was reported that Golovkin insisted on Ward dropping down to 164 instead of fighting at 168, the maximum allowed for super-middleweight. Ward obviously declined; the fight never happened and most assumed GGG feared facing Ward at his best. And if that’s the closest to the truth we can get — because no one but those involved in the negotiations knows for sure — then I’m on board with them, sensing that Gennady had some reservation regarding getting into the ring with Ward at full strength.
However, the Golovkin should move up in weight faction has gained some momentum since GGG defeated a welterweight title holder, Kell Brook, who willingly went up two weight divisions for the fight to become a reality. And after the bout, Floyd Mayweather said he had Brook ahead of Golovkin when the bout was stopped, and then reiterated that he’d like to see Golovkin move up to fight Andre Ward. And with that said, the question becomes – why? First of all, Floyd is the last fighter in the world who should admonish another fighter for not taking a risk. I don’t think I need to go into why. If you’ve been following professional boxing, even on the fringe for the past decade, you’re very familiar with Mayweather’s career.
It seems to me that those who are adamantly calling for Golovkin to move up in weight to fight the Kovalev-Ward winner, are coming from the same place as many of those who wanted to see Mayweather move up and fight Golovkin at 160 in a non-catch weight bout. Those who suggested it wanted nothing more than to see Mayweather get beat – and I offer the same reasoning for the many calling for Golovkin to challenge the Kovalev-Ward winner….they just want to see Golovkin lose.
Yes, I was one of those suggesting Mayweather fight Golovkin at 160. But that was at the end of Floyd’s career when his legacy was already etched in stone and he was gambling with house money and had nothing to lose. A loss in Floyd’s last fight to a bigger fighter, and a beast at that, wouldn’t have tarnished Mayweather’s accomplishments. Right now Golovkin is building his legacy – nothing is etched in stone. But it seems as though because he’s looking like he just may be the real deal, some are anxious to see him lose. And that’s a terrible reason for him to move up, especially when he hasn’t yet cleaned out the middleweight division of fighters who are a legitimate challenger for him at 160.
Gennady Golovkin is a natural middleweight, as were all-time greats and undisputed middleweight title-holders Carlos Monzon and Marvin Hagler. For roughly a decade they were unbeatable and the last seven of those years they held the title. During four years of Monzon’s reign, Bob Foster ruled the light heavyweight division. Yet there was never talk of Carlos moving up to fight for Foster’s title, and that was for good reason. For starters no one really believed that Monzon, as great as he was, had much of a chance to best Foster, who was also an all-time great. Moreover, during the years Foster held the light heavyweight title, Monzon was being openly challenged by former welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight title holder Emile Griffith.
After Monzon turned back Griffith’s challenge twice, he was challenged by reigning welterweight champ Jose Napoles, who he stopped when Jose failed to answer the bell for the seventh round. Monzon never once stated that he wanted to be the light heavyweight champ, yet there were authentically great welterweight champs who desired to be the middleweight champion.
As for Hagler, he never said he wanted to be the light heavyweight champ, although during the years 1981-83 when he reigned as the undisputed middleweight champion, WBA light heavyweight champ Michael Spinks and his WBC counterpart Dwight Muhammad Qawi were campaigning to have Hagler move up and challenge them. This I saw firsthand because I trained in the same gym with Michael and Dwight at the time and know both of them well. Their issue was that there was a lot of talk in the papers regarding Hagler possibly fighting Sugar Ray Leonard or Thomas Hearns and they didn’t like the idea of Marvin looking for challengers south of middleweight instead of north.
However, Hagler often stated that he wasn’t a light heavyweight and he had no interest in being the welterweight champion. It was Leonard and Hearns who wanted to capture Hagler’s middleweight title. So you can’t blame Marvin for eventually fighting both of them because they sought him out because they wanted the hardware and he agreed because the money was more than he ever made. As for Hagler moving up to light heavyweight, he knew he wasn’t big enough to deal with the reach, height, power and boxing skills of Michael Spinks- and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to grasp that a prime Qawi would’ve steamrolled Hagler.
In fact, Hagler and Golovkin are similar in the way that they understand their own bodies, and the limits of what they can do. Remember, when Golovkin was talking about Brook after the fight, he said, “he’s a great fighter, but he’s not a middleweight.” That can apply to Gennady to: he’s not a super middle or light heavyweight. And, at 34, he’s no longer growing. He came in at 159 1/4 for Brook, and was only 167 ten days before the fight.
Perhaps Andre Ward would take Golovkin to school and undress him in the ring. Maybe Kovalev is a little too big and strong for Golovkin right now. Down the road those challenges may be an option for Golovkin, but not today or tomorrow. Gennady has more things to do in his own division. Those clamoring for him to move up are doing so with the hope that he loses, just like those who wanted to see Mayweather fight Golovkin last year. Floyd smartly ignored the call and I expect Golovkin to ignore those wanting him to move up in weight.
Gennady knows he is best served staying in his lane. When and if he cleans out the middleweight division or has trouble making 160, then maybe he should move up. However, today too much is placed on fighters moving up and acquiring titles in different divisions. With weigh-ins 36-48 hours before the bout, it really does lose its significance.
Golovkin is a middleweight. To be a great fighter you only have to beat everyone in your division. If your body can handle moving up or down, fine. But if you’re built to fight at a certain weight, no pressure should be put on you to change divisions, and that applies to Gennady Golovkin.
Those Calling on GGG to Move Up / Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com