His smile to KO ratio is the highest in boxing today, and possibly the history of the sport. Gennady Golovkin regularly broke into that broad and boyish grin on Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, during a press conference to hype his Saturday title defense against Aussie Daniel Geale, a middleweight scrap to unspool on HBO.
The Gennady grin made sense, as there was a complete absence of trash talk from the suits and dealmakers and hitters on the dais, who were overseen by ultra-emcee Michael Buffer. Gary Shaw, who promotes Geale, and co-promotes a heavyweight fighting in the main support bout, Bryant Jennings, touched on the amiable buildup and vibe at the presser. Boxing doesn’t need to feature idiotic trash talking and silly stunts from the hip-hop handbook, he implied. Two guys and their camps can get along, and then, come fight night, mayhem can ensue.
Shaw made an interesting point, one which we’ll have to wait a bit before we gauge the true worth of the comparison. He said that all of Golovkins’ opponents have been fearful in the leadup to the fight. They’ve heard about his face-denting power in both hands, seen the video, and came into the ring diminished. Not Geale, Shaw said; he is like an Evander Holyfield getting ready to meet Mike Tyson. He knows his talents, knows his chin is sturdy, and has wanted this challenge for many moons. Shaw told me that Geale will be a stiff test for the Kazahk, who seemed happy to hear the rep from his native land, who took to the mic and reported best wishes from the president of that nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev. But, Shaw said, “Geale needs to be at his best on Saturday.” The fighter reiterated that to me; he said he basically has to fight the perfect fight, not make a mistake, and capitalize on Golovkin’s mistakes when he sees them. Shaw said his kid ain’t coming to dance, so we won’t likely have a repeat of the blowback from Erislandy Lara’s outing against the harder-punching Canelo Alvarez.
Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler spoke and called his kid the most well known athlete in Kazahk history. He said that the ratings for this bout will be tops for a fight on cable for 2014, and thanked HBO for their skillful hype job, noting that the Road to Golovkin-Geale was well done, and thanked them for buying a billboard in Times Square. Gennady is the highest rated boxer who isn’t fighting on PPV, he made sure to mention, and I’m not sure if that is a precursor to a move to that realm. Hoping not, for my and our wallets, if not his…
Golovkin jetted quickly after the event, doing some taping for HBO and then dashing to a car, for a workout. I won’t assume he’s over the weight or anything. I do know he’s headed over to Broadway, to do a cameo in the “Rocky” musical, so maybe he needed to get some rehearsal in after the workout…
The heavyweight support bout is, to use an Al Bernstein term, intriguing. Mostly, for me, because I’m eager to see which Mike Perez shows up. Will it be the guy who was active and ferocious against Magomed Abdusalamov? Or the man who looked passive and flat against Carlos Takam? His trainer of four months Adam Booth told me that even if Perez isn’t at 110% capacity, he’s still good enough to beat Jennings, the Philly fighter who just turned pro four years ago after a handful of amateur bouts. I asked Booth if Perez’ mental state is more important than that of an “average” fighter ie, left unsaid, one who hadn’t been involved in a bout which left a foe brain damaged. No, Booth said, Perez is of sound mind, and has no demons rattling in his head. He simply trained a mere two weeks for Takam, and spent too much time in pubs prior to that. Not so this time, he stated. Jennings seemed quite loose, wearing the look of a man who knew the outcome before the scrap, and that he’d have his hand raised. His trainer, Fred Jenkins, thinks the world of him, and seems him outboxing the less mobile Perez. What about you, Forum faithful? Who do ya like in the mainer and the support scrap?
SPEEDBAG Spoke to James Prince, who works with Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard with Jennings. He also advises Andre Ward. Prince says he's keen to have Ward back in a ring soon, and craves a Ward-Golovkin matchup. He told me he thinks Team Golovkin is avoiding that scrap.
---Andy Lee, who scored a killer KO on the Cotto-Martinez card, was present. He's there to support Mike Perez, who makes his home now in Ireland. Lee told me he wants a title crack, and would do it at 154 or 160. If that can't be made, he'd be happy with an all-Irish showdown against Matthew Macklin.
--Geale dedicated the bout to his mom, who is battling cancer.
--Shaw had 'em laughing when he admitted he tried to sign Golovkin a while back, and chased him to Panama to get his signature. He was rebuffed and then, when he tried to enlist trainer Able Sanchez, was rebuffed more firmly, with an eff bomb thrown in for good measure.
---Jennings notched some buzz on Twitter when he said he will fight to the death, and knows Perez will do the same. Being that Perez was involved in the Mago affair, some folks didn't like that phrasing. Me, I see it as being acceptable, because all fighters have to assume their foe will fight to the death, and that could be the harsh and ultimate price to pay for the potential prizes at stake. It is what it is...
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV