First things first, let’s talk about Gennady Golovkin (who I will now refer to as GGG strictly because I want to):
• GGG has serious, easy power. P4P he reminds me of Miguel Cotto coming up the ranks. Even if it looked like he wasn’t landing much, he was visibly hurting his opponent with every power shot. Not only was Proksa wincing at shots, but his face was disfigured after just four rounds of boxing. His power is some of the best we’ve seen at this weight class in a while
• GGG is the real deal, but only in the sense that he’s a consensus top-5 Middleweight in the world. To put him on the pedestal some pundits have done based on his spectacular performance last Saturday is aggressive to say the least
• GGG’s polish for a power puncher of his magnitude was by far the most impressive thing I saw in his fight. We’ve seen massive punchers before, but rarely do we one who’s undisputable bombs are thrown with such precision and little exertion. The devastating body shots that effectively ended this fight were neither haymakers nor wild shots. They were just perfectly thrown hooks to the body. His head attack was equally impressive as he landed crushing blows with relatively short, simple combinations. What GGG did with his wide stance was truly great, and definitely done with enough technical/tactical skill to get me intrigued
• What’s next for GGG? Honestly, I can’t see how he doesn’t get the winner of Martinez-Junior. HBO has to be in love with this kid. I haven’t heard this much buzz about a fighter making his HBO debut in quite some time. They have to have a say, right? Al Haymon can’t make all of the decisions for the whole sport. Wait….right?
• And who else is there? Geale is a great fighter, but nobody in America (outside of the real boxing enthusiasts) knows who he is. How do you sell us another Martinez-Macklin-type fight (Spoiler Alert: I’m assuming Martinez wins)? Geale and GGG should probably square off for the right to the winner, but this is boxing, so I wouldn’t count on the logical matchup to take place
• While I don’t thing GGG is going to takeover the sport as some have suggested, I do think he’s a championship-caliber fighter who will hold at least one major belt between 154-168 lbs. in his career and make numerous defenses of that belt. If he were to face Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (who I will now refer to simply as ‘Junior’ out of laziness), I’m convinced we’d be looking at a Fight of the Year candidate that GGG would win via late stoppage. But since I think we’ll see Golovkin-Martinez first, I think GGG gives Martinez all he can handle for 8 rounds. However, championship fights are 12 rounds, and I think Martinez’s adaptive style, stamina, experience, and ability to finish fights will have him take over the late rounds and win a close decision (unless he stops GGG). To be clear, I think GGG has the skills to beat Martinez. I just don’t think he’d do it on his first try.
Perfect segue: Martinez-Chavez, Jr. thoughts
Before I get into my breakdown and prediction on how this fight ends, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit I’m a Sergio Martinez fan. I feel I have to get that out in the open as I’m inherently going to be biased in his favor. And I don’t feel bad about that because how could you not like the guy? He’s exciting in the ring, eloquent outside of it, and he is a very good role model. That said, I pick fights on facts, and Sergio Martinez is simply a better boxer.
• Make no mistake. Junior is a hell of a fighter. He’s a tough, granite-chinned, powerful middleweight. He is deserving of this shot based on his last few wins and lack of viable contenders at 160 lbs. His cockiness works to his advantage as walks through his opponents’ offense to deliver his own heavy shots. Junior works the body incredibly well, and that’s really helped him develop into the well-rounded power puncher he is today
• Sergio Martinez is an elite, world-class champion at the top of his game. Martinez has good hand speed and great footwork due to his raw athleticism. He’s awkward to prepare for with his constant, unique movement, and he can finish fights with one punch. He simply has too many offensive tools and defensive smarts to be beaten by Junior
• Martinez has beaten fighters that Junior’s handlers would never let him step in the ring with. Martinez’s experience will be a major factor in this fight. He has had his nose broken early in a fight. He has been rocked by very large, heavy punchers like Kelly Pavlik. In both of those Middleweight title bouts, Martinez had his arm raised at the bell. We’ve seen what happens when Martinez gets hit with a great shot by a big puncher, but the unknown element of what happens if Junior gets hurt is yet another advantage for Martinez
• While we don’t usually see this out of Martinez, he has employed some mind games to give himself yet another advantage. Sergio seems to really have gotten under the skin of Junior, and I think it will make a difference in the fight. Junior is going to be trying so hard not just to win this fight, but to knock Martinez out and prove a point. Junior hears the critics and wants so badly to make a name for himself. In doing so, I’m confident he’ll leave himself open and vulnerable to expertly-timed counter shots by Martinez. Again, Martinez is an elite fighter, and not one to miss openings. It’s like missing your spot as a pitcher against a superstar hitter… they will make you pay every time, and that’s why they’re superstars
• While the loss to Antonio Margarito on Sergio Martinez’s record should not be ignored since he employed a similar swarming, stalking offensive assault to Junior, I believe Martinez can win an inside fight or a slugfest with Junior. Just because Junior walked through Andy Lee does not mean he can walk through Sergio Martinez.
• The last factor in this fight that is worth noting for me is Junior’s corner. I think Freddie Roach is an incredible teacher of offensive boxing. Look at his stable of fighters: Manny Pacquaio, Amir Khan, Junior… all dynamic offensive fighters. However, I don’t think Roach has given any of them much tactical advice during their fights in the last few years. Sergio Martinez is nearly impossible to prepare for as I mentioned (largely because you can’t find many left-handed sparring partners that can emulate his natural flow), so it’s imperative to adjust on the fly against him. Part of the reason he comes on so strong at the end of fights is because he’s constantly figuring out how to get around his opponent’s defense. If you can’t adjust, he will pick you apart late in a fight. This is exactly what will happen against Chavez. TKO11 for Martinez as Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. throws in the towel.
• With Martinez listed at just -185 in sporting books, I’d say this is a good chance to make some money if you’re the betting type
And lastly, I wanted to share my prediction for Andre Ward-Chad Dawson. Before I get into my prediction, I want to note how astonished I was at the betting line for this fight. I’ve seen Andre Ward as high as -350 (MORE THAN 3-TO-1 favorite). To me, that’s crazy. This is the most even title fight on paper I’ve seen since Jermain Taylor-Winky Wright which ended in a true draw. I think Ward takes this one, but at 3-1, Dawson is surely a live underdog--certainly less of an underdog than JCC Junior as mentioned above
• Andre Ward will win this because, to Lee Wylie’s point (http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/articles/15194-the-breakdown-andre-ward-chad-dawson), he has more ways to win. There is a reason Andre Ward is undefeated: Nobody has figured out how to beat him in the ring.
• Conversely, Chad Dawson has been beaten. He was beaten largely due to complacency. He let Jean Pascal beat him. He has let other fighters stay in fights with him just because he has at times lacked the urgency to finish fights. Dawson is so naturally gifted with boxing talent that he can almost always win on that alone. Against a guy like Ward, he’ll need to open up his guard a bit and have his best night. He is more than capable of winning this fight, but I don’t think he has the mental fortitude to do so
• Regardless of the outcome, this fight is so good for the sport. I hope it’s not a snoozefest (and for the record, I do not think it will be) as their immense talents neutralize one another, but it doesn’t matter. The winner will universally be recognized as a superstar in boxing, which is exactly where the winner belongs. If only more top fighters were willing to fight the best guys out there like these two…Props to Dawson for suggesting this fight and meeting Ward in Ward’s weight class and hometown. Props to Ward for taking the fight against a bigger man who is undoubtedly the best fight/toughest challenge for him out there right now.
• Ward will win a close, but clear decision over 12 grueling rounds. Get out a notebook for this one, these guys will be putting on a clinic on The Sweet Science…
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV