A Short Drama Show by Golovkin
Perhaps it was apropos that before Gennady Golovkin stepped into the ring on Saturday to defend his WBA middleweight title against Marco Antonio Rubio at the StubHub Center, he took the road less traveled. Unlike most fighters who perform at this venue in Carson, California, he didn’t take the usual short jaunt into the ring. Instead Golovkin and his team took the scenic route, circling the whole perimeter of the lower bowl before trotting up those steps.
Yeah, he was basically taking a pre-victory lap.
After all, Golovkin was facing a guy who, despite his decent credentials, was still listed as high as a 70-to-one underdog. This wasn’t so much a fight but a coronation of Golovkin as a full-fledged attraction and a nationally-televised execution on HBO. Golovkin systematically dispatched Rubio in two short rounds. In fact, he didn’t even need a full five minutes to chop him down. First, an accurate right uppercut buzzed Rubio and then a few seconds later, a chopping left hook that seemed to come like a guillotine sent him crumbling to the canvas.
Referee Jack Reiss waved off the fight after Rubio rose at the count of nine. You could argue that it was a premature stoppage but all it really did was hasten the inevitable. The Christians had a better chance against the lions than Rubio did versus Golovkin on this comfortably cool autumn night in Southern California. The fact that the main event was so truncated didn’t seem to faze the 9,323 that came out to support the newly-adopted Mexican from Kazakhstan, who improved to 31-0 (28). What was interesting was this promotion dubbed “Mexican Style” really had nothing to do with Rubio. As you looked into the audience at the StubHub Center – overwhelmingly Mexican-American – and heard the “Triple G” chants reverberate throughout the venue, those very same partisans started it.
“Mexican Style” indeed.
Golovkin is a phenomenon though not so much in terms of his fighting. Much still has to be proven and moving forward, you’d hope he gets to really test his mettle against a higher grade of opposition. But what’s been remarkable is somehow, a fighter from a foreign land – whose only social imprint in the States is a fictional character (“Borat”) – has so quickly resonated with fans across the world. As you walked around the parking lot of the StubHub Center before the fight (where fans were tailgating to such a degree, you would’ve thought an SEC football game was taking place inside), you saw various bootleg t-shirts with Golovkin’s image on them. Not since “Can’t Touch This” or Malcolm X has there been such a cottage industry from unlicensed merchandise.
It speaks to the burgeoning popularity of Golovkin, who unfortunately still finds himself a bit too dangerous for his own good. As of this moment, he is a favorite of the hardcore sect that still treats boxing as more of a sport than business (and one day, as Golovkin becomes a legitimate, marquee A-side, he’ll be in a position to make business decisions the way Miguel Cotto or Saul Alvarez do). Right now, there is a Tyson-esque feel to “GGG.” It doesn’t necessarily matter who he faces; it’s what he does to these poor souls who have the temerity to step into the ring with him. Even if the level of opposition is questionable, the destruction and mayhem that is wrought is more than enough to satisfy the bloodlust of the spectators.
Yes, they were entertained on Saturday night.
Golovkin is great for boxing, which is searching for individuals to take over the mantle from Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao as they box their way into the sunsets of their careers (and of course, away from one another) to carry the sport/business moving forward. What we’ll (hopefully) find out in the near future is if Golovkin is actually great.
But for now, perhaps this tweet (from @JayMoney2333) sent to me in the immediate moments after Golovkin’s latest conquest, sums it up best:
@steveucnlive He fights like a Mexican, hits like Tyson, humble like Pacquiao, and sounds like Borat….. what’s not to love”
Like the past couple of years, the plan is to have Golovkin fighting up to four times in 2015.
“It’s Gennady’s job to focus on the job in the ring; it’s my job to plan ahead,” said Tom Loeffler, the managing director of K2 Promotions. “We already have a date planned in February for his next fight. As of right now, it’ll be in Europe, unless – and this is what I told HBO and [Top Rank Promotions CEO] Bob [Arum] – [Julio Cesar] Chavez [Jr.] decides to step up and sign a contract and naturally that would take priority. But otherwise, he’ll fight in February.”
So in other words, see you in February in Europe.
The goal in 2015 is to go belt-hunting at 160.
Loeffler said, “[Golovkin] just added another belt, the WBC [interim] belt, already to the IBO and the WBA ‘super champion,’ so he’s collecting belts. He wants to show that he’s the best in the division and the only way you can do that is against the best fighters and right now for this particular fight, Rubio was the best fighter that would get in the ring with him.”
By capturing the WBC interim title, Golovkin will eventually become a mandatory challenger for that organization’s true title, currently held by Miguel Cotto.
You get the sense that Golovkin’s appearance at the StubHub Center was a one-off and that he could be headed for bigger venues in Los Angeles. When asked about the atmosphere on Saturday night, Dan Beckerman, the president and CEO of AEG (which owns and operates this venue among many others and is a big advocate of boxing) said, “It was unbelievable; it was the largest crowd we’ve ever had for a boxing event in the history of the venue and it was unbelievable. We had to bring additional seats in to handle the demand we had for this fight and ‘Triple G’ is obviously a huge star in the sport and we want to keep him here in L.A. if we can.”
He added, “To me, the next step for ‘Triple G’ is the Staples Center and I think this is a fighter that can transcend the sport and break through to the market in a way that very few fighters have done before and we would love to have him there and see him achieve that next level and we’re going to try to do that.”
So have we seen the end of the “Filipino Flash,” Nonito Donaire as a truly elite fighter?…Give me Nicholas Walter versus Vasyl Lomachenko in 2015…Seriously, the tailgating scene at the StubHub Center is unreal…For the record, the largest audience ever to watch a boxing event at the StubHub Center was for the Oscar De La Hoya-Steve Forbes fight which was staged on the soccer field…Cleveland Gary laughs at the call against Notre Dame at Tallahassee…I seriously can’t believe that the KC Royals are in the Fall Classic…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at http://twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at http://instagram.com/steveucnlive.