May 5 is finally over.
What was supposed to be a hotly contested rematch between unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and The Ring magazine champion Canelo Alvarez fell apart quickly when the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended Alvarez last month when the fighter tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug (clenbuterol) in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Former junior middleweight title challenger Vanes Martirosyan wasn’t Team Golovkin’s first choice as a replacement opponent. But after 21-year-old,154-pound prospect Jamie Munguia was dismissed by the NAC as too green, and ranked middleweight contender Gary O’Sullivan declined the fight over money, Golovkin and HBO ultimately turned their eyes toward Martirosyan.
The fight went exactly as expected. Golovkin was ruthlessly efficient, battering the helpless sacrificial offering to a Round 2 knockout win. WIth the victory, Golovkin tied Bernard Hopkins’ record for middleweight title defenses (20), and displayed once again why he’s the class of the division.
Since there’s no reason to dissect what just happened, let’s turn our attention to the one man in boxing who might actually be able to defeat Golovkin in the near future.
No. It’s not Alvarez. Frankly, it’s hard to envision Golovkin giving Alvarez another rematch after all the vitriol the two have spewed back and forth at each other through the media since the fight fell through. Yes, when it comes to making money, cooler heads usually prevail, but cooling the heads of hotheaded fighters often takes some time. Besides, Alvarez may have fought a perfect fight against Golovkin last year and barely escaped it with the draw.
So who could pull it off?
Former IBF junior middleweight title holder Jermall Charlo is my pick. He’s campaigning at 160 now, and after two fights among the larger, harder hitters in that division he appears to have the requisite skill set to usurp the champion. Since moving up, Charlo has scored two impressive knockout victories over Jorge Heiland and Hugo Centeno, Jr. He looks sharp, powerful, and has become in my mind the clear frontrunner to take the middleweight division into its next era.
Here are five reasons Charlo will soon replace Golovkin as the resident boogeyman of the 160-pound division.
Charlo is a gifted boxer-puncher with some real pop in his fists. While Golovkin is one of the better jabbers at middleweight, he would at least be meeting his match as a jabber in Charlo. When I first interviewed him over five years ago, Charlo noted that the one element of his game separating him from his twin brother, Jermell, was his dedication to the jab. That has certainly proved true, and Charlo has since gone on to establish his jab as one of the premier weapons in all of boxing. On top of that, Charlo is an excellent counterpuncher. He can do it from the inside, the outside and the in-between. He lands hard and clean, and he’s the one fighter at middleweight who would probably willingly engage with GGG in the pocket. Charlo, without over analyzing every single facet of his style, is a complete fighter, and it will take such a man to defeat Golovkin.
Golovkin is so good at what he does, that whoever defeats him will probably need some physical advantages to do the job. Charlo is taller than Golovkin and has a longer reach. While Golovkin’s come-forward style is effective against most current middleweights, it might prove detrimental to the task of defeating Charlo. Charlo is a thick legged and strong fighter who will probably be able to keep Golovkin on the end of his longer punches. And even when Golovkin manages to get into the middle ground from which he excels, Charlo’s footwork and faster feet may still rule the day. To put it bluntly, Charlo is a taller, longer fighter and probably a better athlete, too.
Golovkin is a heavy puncher. Who can forget the surprised look on Curtis Stevens’ face the first time he tasted Golovkin’s power? So whoever defeats Golovkin will need enough power to get the man’s respect. Otherwise, Golovkin is content to walk forward and trade. His punches are so hard and so accurate that he usually gets the better of it. Charlo was a hard puncher at 154, and his power seems to have translated nicely to 160. He bombed out Heiland and Centeno with ease, and some of his knockouts at his previous weight are serious highlight reel material. Does Charlo punch as hard as Golovkin? Probably not. But does he punch hard enough to keep Golovkin honest in the fight with his defensive efforts? Almost assuredly.
Charlo is nine years Golovkin’s junior. He’s in the prime years of his fighting career, and it’s safe to say that we probably haven’t even really seen how good a fighter he will become. Golovkin, on the other hand, is at the tail end of his career. Against the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Danny Jacobs, he didn’t appear to be the same monster he was just a few years ago. And when a fighter’s natural decline starts to rear its ugly head, it usually means the best years of his life are already behind him. At 36, Golovkin is too close to 40 to hope for a big bounce back to prime form. Charlo, on the other hand, is on the right side of 30 to get the job done.
Golovkin is a peach outside of the ring, but once the bell rings he becomes a monstrous destroyer. It’s part of what makes him so marketable and popular, and it has served him, his promoters and HBO quite well in the post-Mayweather boxing era. But Charlo is a different kind of fighter. He’s angry when he fights. He’s angry when he trains. And he’s angry when he fields questions from media. Charlo’s fiery attitude has paid huge dividends for him as a fighter, and that kind of me-against-the-world mindset is exactly the type of thing that should help him fight back hard when he gets into a firefight with GGG. In short, Charlo doesn’t just believe he can defeat Golovkin in a fistfight, he’s pissed off because others don’t share that opinion. And that kind of attitude–that belief in one’s self–is paramount to a fighter when facing someone as talented and as powerful as Golovkin.
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