A continuum for GGG?
This weekend, WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin makes his annual appearance in Monte Carlo, Monaco against the rough and rugged Martin Murray. The Brit is a respectable foe and perhaps the second or third best middleweight on the planet.
Perhaps this is an indictment on the current crop of 160-pounders but Murray – who arguably defeated both Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm (his lone professional blemishes) – is still listed as more than a 20-1 underdog for this match-up. Murray can best described as a solid and sturdy prizefighter, one who should push Golovkin at least a little bit and if Golovkin is who we think he is (as Dennis Green might say), Murray will ultimately subdue him.
A couple of weeks ago after his day’s training at the Summit Gym in Big Bear, Calif.,Golovkin described his foe thusly, “He’s a tough guy, a great fighter. This is my first step this year. OK, he’s a big guy; he’s a strong guy. I know this is not game. It’s a very serious fight and big test for me because he understands his situation. He’s had two title fights with Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm, very close fights. I remember; I watched those fights.”
You can make an argument that Murray, who has a pro mark of 29-1-1 with 12 stoppages, is the best and most accomplished boxer “GGG” has faced, with all due respect to the likes of Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio and Matthew Macklin. But the reality is this isn’t about if Golovkin wins (after all, look at the odds) but how he wins. Murray is as tough as a combat boot and has never been close to be stopped. Right now, victories are expected for Golovkin as he rolls through the rank-and-file of the middleweight class.
Just what does this fight mean to Golovkin?
“I see Gennady building on what he accomplished in 2014. 2014 was a big year for him where he headlined the big arena at Madison Square Garden and he sold out StubHub Center,” explained Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, who has masterminded Golovkin’s rise to prominence over the past few years. “So if you take that and capitalize on what he accomplished there, Martin Murray is certainly one of the biggest names that [Golovkin] fought in his career in Monte Carlo and then after that, it’s the same plan: just getting the biggest names that will get in the ring with him and now with his marketability and the financial support of HBO, I think there’s no question we should be able to get one of the big fights in 2015, if everything goes right with Martin Murray.”
For the past couple of years in lieu of landing that big fight, Golovkin has been more than willing to stay active (which, by today’s standards, means fighting more than twice a year at the championship level) and work in volume. If it weren’t for the sudden and unexpected passing of his father in February of last year, Golovkin would have fought four times each in 2013 and 2014.
The plan has worked as he’s evolved from being this unknown European entity to one of the pillars of HBO’s boxing franchise and now a legitimate attraction in the States. Still, Golovkin is now 32 years of age, certainly not old but not necessarily young either. Will this ambitious wrecking ball from Kazakhstan remain patient with this process?
Loeffler says, “The formula has worked. What we’ve done so far, which is to keep Gennady active, to keep him in front of the public, that’s how we were able to build him in such a short period of time. It’s just over two-and-a-half years since he made his HBO debut and, in that short a period of time, he’s risen to the top of the sport.”
The plan this year is once again to try and fit in four appearances. Hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? “The formula has worked; you’ve got to keep in mind where Gennady has come from. He came from a very modest city in Kazakhstan and now he’s fighting on the biggest platforms in boxing. He’s fighting on HBO. He’s fighting at Madison Square Garden. He appreciates everything that comes with every fight,” said Loeffler. “Every fight is a step further in accomplishing his goal and proving he’s the best middleweight in the world and unifying all the titles. Even though each fight might not be the biggest name, it’s definitely a step in that direction.”
Speaking of which, while others are in a rush to see him move up to super middleweight, Golovkin, who currently holds the WBA strap and the interim version of the WBC title, the most immediate goal is to unify and clear out the division in the manner which Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins did before him. “I want unification fights; for me, that’s very important,” said Golovkin, 31-0 (28).
“Who’s the best in the world? Who’s best? Who’s number one in the middleweight division?,” he asks as emphatically as he does rhetorically.
Basically, Golovkin says he wants anyone with a middleweight belt or anyone worthy of a pay-per-view event, whether that means Miguel Cotto, Saul Alvarez and “Andre Ward, yes, of course that’s a great fight for everybody and Carl Froch.” He still brings up Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who he nearly fought last year before Chavez wove himself into the safety of the Haymon cocoon.
So the process continues; Golovkin isn’t quite where he wants to be. But the hope is, with every step, he’s inching closer.
Last October, Golovkin dispatched Rubio in two frames to capture the WBC interim middleweight title. Currently the full version of that title is held by Cotto, who could be facing either Tim Bradley or Brandon Rios (yeah, you’re reading that correctly – and those would be middleweight title fights. El-oh-el) in June.
After his next fight, Cotto – or whomever owns that belt – must face Golovkin next or abdicate the belt.
“That was the whole point of fighting Rubio, to fight for the interim title in order to force the WBC champion to fight against Gennady or vacate the title,” explained Loeffler. “We can’t force anyone in the ring. That’s what we saw against Chavez but [Golovkin’]s priority is to unify all the titles at middleweight and this would be another step in that direction.”
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