If you're only a casual boxing fan – meaning Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the only undefeated fighter in the game you can think of when discussing boxing’s current superstars – then you need to know that Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin is a Kazakh boxer regarded by "respected minds" of elite prizefighting as the best pound-for-pound scrapper on the globe (No offense to Pretty Boy Floyd).
In fact, Golovkin has the highest knockout ratio of any active world champion (89.66%) and has sedated his last 16 opponents on some straight John “The Beast “ Mugabi tip . No one has lasted the distance with him since 2008. Mugabi was one of the great knockout punchers of the 1980’s from Uganda. He earned his nickname "The Beast" by annihilating everybody in his path prior to his Round 11 KO loss to boxing titan Marvin Hagler in 1986.
Golovkin’s looking to avoid such a fate when he defends his belt against former titlist Daniel Geale of Australia on Saturday, July 26 in “GGG's” debut at the 9,000 seat main arena inside New York’s Madison Square Garden (HBO, 9:30 p.m. ET).
In speaking with Golovkin through an interpreter, I learned that when expressing himself, he lets his hands of stone do the yapping for the most part, as evidenced by his 26 knockouts in 29 pro fights. After an eventful year, a brief hiatus and some life-changing moments, he’s ready to get it poppin.’
“Everything is good,” Golovkin told The Shadow League. “I’m just trying to get back to the boxing after what happened in family back home, with the passing of my father.“
Golovkin, who competed in the middleweight division at the 2004 Summer Olympics, where he won the silver medal, is the reigning WBA and IBO middleweight champion, and he’s had an impact on boxing that has transcended the arena. His growing legion of fans call him "GGG". He's getting that social media love that comes with an ascension to athletic fame these days. He's getting that gladiator love from those who live to watch bloody, boxing demolitions.
Despite his knockout prowess, Golovkin is not just a brawler. He has formidable hand skills, with a personality to match, and he doesn’t exchange knockouts with boxers; he simply puts them through the ringer and sends them home with more knots than a Jamaican day parade. According to boxing experts, Golovkin possesses a “dangerous combination of power, technique and relentless — yet efficient – pressure.”
Golovkin tells The Shadow League that boxing’s always been a part of his life. “My older brother, he was the person who recognized my talents,” Golovkin said. “We would try all different kinds of sports, but I took to boxing. My brother took me to the boxing gym. He recommended it and I loved it.”
The 32-year-old "Kazakhstan Decapitator" is willing to fight anyone at any attainable weight, but as is the case with most obliterators, his list of willing opponents between 154 and 160 pounds hasn’t been plentiful. Naturally, fighters tread lightly when considering a brawl with the star of TSL Knockout Kings Volume 1. Who could blame them?
The money fight is Golovkin against Miguel Cotto at 160 pounds in front of thousands of flag-waving fans at The Garden. Golovkin wants that fight to happen. “I want Cotto," he told TSL. “Not just for me, but for boxing fans all over the world. It would be a big present for everyone.”
Golovkin missed his chance at chopping down his first “money” name when his proposed fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fell apart in the 11 th hour, but the fall-back-plan against two-time world champion Daniel Geale (30-2-0 with 16 KO’s) is still considered Golovkin’s toughest fight yet.
Geale is considered a savvy pressure fighter who can flip styles like Audio Two and won’t crack under the onslaught of Golovkin’s tremendous power.
It will also test Golovkin’s marketability, as he is the major player in this championship bout. His impressive eighth-round stoppage of Curtis Stevens in November of 2013 on HBO drew the third-largest audience for a boxing match on cable in 2013. According to Nielsen Media Research, it averaged 1.41 million viewers and peaked at 1.566 million.
The average viewership made it the year's third-highest rated cable bout, all of which had been on HBO. Cotto's win over Delvin Rodriguez was first, at 1.555 million average viewers and Chavez Jr.'s controversial victory over Bryan Vera placed second at an average viewership of 1.416 million.
Golovkin's masterfully executed demolitions are dope and further inspire his growing celebrity. The Stevens fight increased his viewership by almost 30 percent from the previous fight, when he averaged 1.097 million viewers against Matthew Macklin.
This will be Golovkin’s third time fighting at MSG after securing impressive beat downs over Gabriel Rosado and then Stevens in 2013. And as disappointing as it was for Golovkin’s scheduled fight against Andy Lee to fall apart due to complications with the death of his father (which caused him to step away from boxing for a minute) his popularity and thirst for blood is at an all-time high.
“Since his HBO debut less than two years ago, Gennady has become the hottest international star in boxing and we're thrilled to promote his return to Madison Square Garden," K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loffler said. "This will be Gennady's first fight in the main arena at Madison Square Garden, where only a select few could headline today."
Golovkin is training under the guidance of Abel Sanchez and in pursuit of his 17th consecutive knockout against Geale, who Sanchez thinks will try to extend the fight and use his boxing skills to, at times, engage Golovkin while also keeping him at bay and luring him deep into unfamiliar territory.
"Geale boxes a little more. We've been very confident of the past opponents running away, but we don't anticipate that from him. Hopefully, he will bring out the very best of Gennady," said Sanchez, who has trained "GGG" since June 2010. “(Geale's) a two-time world champion, and he's the most experienced boxer at the top level that we've fought. He's got the most to gain and is on the cusp of being a world champion again."
Geale, 33, is well aware that Golovkin has gone as far as the 10th round just once in his career (against Kassim Ouma in 2011). Despite losing his title to Darren Barker by split decision in August 2013, Geale is seasoned in midnight-hour warfare and has gone 12 rounds in 13 of his 32 pro fights. If Golovkin’s inevitable rise to greatness is going to meet a hiccup, most boxing aficionado’s feel this is the moment.
Geale won a world title by split decision in Germany against hometown favorite Sebastian Sylvester in 2011 and made four defenses, including a stunner in Germany when he outpointed Felix Sturm to unify belts in 2012.
After vacating one of the titles in order to take the big-money rematch with Anthony Mundine rather than a mandatory against Golovkin, he lost to Barker. Geale’s since rebounded from the defeat, stopping fellow Australian Garth Wood in the sixth round in February.
“I know him a long time, Golovkin told TSL. “He’s a very good fighter. He’s not stronger than me, but he’s experienced.”
Geale isn’t running scared like a lot of cats. He also sees the Golovkin fight as an opportunity to blow up his brand.
"I had my first amateur fight at the age of 10 in a little hall at Ridgley outside Burnie in Tasmania,’’ Geale said, "now I’m fighting the best boxer in the world at Madison Square Garden."
Golovkin’s already dusted Geale 15-3 as an amateur in Osaka, Japan 13 years ago, but Geale says he was a different fighter then. Geale hopes to capitalize on “GGG’s” overzealousness this time.
"Golovkin had good power and was a good technical fighter but I wasn’t intimidated then and I’m not intimidated now,” Geale said. “I know if I fight at my best I can outjab him and cause a big upset."
When asked, Golovkin emphatically shut down the notion that his Knockout King glory puts pressure on him to go for broke in every fight and could potentially lead to him making a huge mistake against the crafty Geale.
“Absolutely not,” said "GGG". “I’m not obligated to have the knockout this time. I think the opponents I’ve had in the past were not ready and that’s why I had that success.”
If Geale is counting on catching Golovkin slipping, he probably won’t get the chance. “GGG” knows Geale’s no burger, but in compiling a 345-5 record as an amateur and 29 pro conquests, he's never touched canvas. His last defeat was in the 75kg final at the Athens Olympics where he was outpointed 28-18 by Russia’s Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov.
In typical fashion, Golovkin punished Osumanu Adama in his last fight in February in Salle des etoiles, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Another impressive KO on Saturday and a game-changing unification bout has got to be on the horizon. Golovkin’s not making any predictions, but says a max effort performance is something he gives in every fight and that's his only guarantee.