It’s no surprise that you may not know much about Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin – he is the most avoided man in the sport of boxing after all.
But why won’t the world’s best fighters take him on just yet? Quite simply, he’s a middleweight monster on a meteoric rise to the top of his discipline.
By Nick Munday – @NM_Sport
With the highest knockout percentage of any middleweight titlist in history – an incredible 90% after 28 stoppages in his 31 victories – the undefeated 32-year-old from Karaganda in Kazakhstan has stopped each of his last 18 opponents.
Yet despite the WBA Super world middleweight champion seeing his stock rise rapidly in America and across Europe, he’s still only on the verge of becoming a mainstream superstar. So long as the current pay-per-view fighters will accept the challenge of sharing a ring with him.
To some in the boxing world Golovkin still remains a mystery.
As a young boy growing up in his native Kazakhstan, Golovkin would wake up in the early hours to watch the big US fights and study the sweet science. His favourite fighter was five-weight world champion Sugar Ray Leonard and he still sits down today to watch clips of Sugar Ray, admiring his speed, power and tactics.
Triple G had an amazing amateur record of 345 wins and just five losses, and the Kazakh was not once knocked down in any of his 350 fights. He also won a gold medal at the 2003 World Championships and a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens before turning professional in 2006. It was during an amateur fight with former super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute, scoring a late knockout, where Golovkin impressed his current trainer Abel Sanchez.
Golovkin has been training with Sanchez at his gym in Big Bear, California since 2010 and as a result has adopted a ‘Mexican’ approach in the ring, as opposed to a more technical European style. Around four years ago he sparred with fellow ‘Beast from the East’ and light-heavyweight enforcer Sergey Kovalev and there are rumours that Golovkin knocked down the Russian, despite being the smaller fighter. But in a recent interview with Boxing News, Golovkin would neither confirm nor deny this. “It’s true I had a lot of good positions against Kovalev, a lot of good moments,” he said, but the Kazakh was keen to state that sparring is “just practice”.
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Despite having not yet faced any elite-level operators, Golovkin has created massive interest whilst cruising past fringe contenders in recent years.
In 2011, Golovkin stopped the durable Kassim Ouma before scoring a first-round knockout of the experienced Lajuan Simon. The destruction continued when making his debut on HBO in September 2012 as the Kazakh dropped Grzegorz Proksa three times on the way to a fifth-round stoppage.
He took on British challenger Matthew Macklin in 2013 and ended the contest in the third round, after cutting his opponent under the eye in round two. It was a frightening uppercut that sent Macklin sideways; leaving his body exposed to a brutal blow that finished the fight. Macklin was left on the floor with his mouth wide open, trying to regain his breath.
A year later, Golovkin continued his path of demolition amongst the middleweight division. After surpassing Osumanu Adama in February he faced a bigger challenge, on paper at least, in the summer when up against ex-world champ Daniel Geale. Golovkin became the first man to stop Geale, finishing the Australian in the third round. He ended the year with a routine two-round win over Marco Antonio Rubio, where he sold out the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Recent results indicate that Golovkin is approaching his performance peak – and that must be worrying for boxing’s best.
Physically, he is not necessarily the biggest middleweight but he makes up for that with incredible timing and accuracy of his deadly punches. The Kazakh is not unhittable and when tested so far, his chin has stood up to the challenge. He is an aggressive, powerful operator who is dangerous on both the back foot and when moving forward but it is not just his brash boxing style and ferocious fists that appeal to his growing fan base. Golovkin has a calm, humble charm about him and his English is improving.
Tonight GGG faces his toughest test to date in Monte Carlo. He meets a higher calibre of opponent in the tough Englishman Martin Murray, but there are still a number of more attractive dust-ups out there.
He dreams of potential encounters against big names such as Miguel Cotto, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and, of course, Floyd Mayweather where Golovkin would happily drop down in weight to fight the pound-for-pound champion. Assuming he gets the mega-fights he deserves, 2015 could be the year of Gennady Golovkin.