THREE EXCITING FIGHTS
What a great boxing weekend!
Many people claiming that Gennady Golovkin was “exposed” because he could not deal with Curtis Stevens’ speed. To these people I say: “Are you serious?” (By the way, GGG should trademark that phrase immediately) Did Stevens catch him? Yes! Did GGG take the shots? Absolutely! Did GGG turn into a perpetual motion machine who could not stop throwing smart punches, combinations, and bombs anytime he felt Stevens’ pressure? You bet he did!
Golovkin showed that he can hang in there, take control, and fight smartly against a fast and strong middleweight. Where do you see GGG going from here? Is there any serious future for Stevens in the middleweight division? He fought valiantly and I think last night’s Stevens could give problems to any of the other top 10 middleweight not named GGG or maybe Sergio Martinez.
Giovani Segura-Hernan Marquez! Holy boxing balls! That is the quintessential barn burner! Not enough superlatives for this fight. I for one am glad it had a definitive ending because how in the hell do you score that fight? In scoring close fights I normally go with the Max Kellerman rule of: Who would you rather be at the end of that round? In this fight I did not want to be either of them! That was a brutally paced 12 rounds. Segura has been the real deal for some time now and Marquez is like a mini Mexican Gatti. Even though he has been the champ, his fights are not that significant for the big picture but you better set up that DVR correctly because that kid is must watch TV! Not sure why Segura is not in The Ring rankings, but who cares? True fans know who that guy is. Where does Segura go from here? He has two back to back impressive wins but he is no spring chicken. How long before this guy gets old? The way he fights…
I can’t recall the last time I saw an entertaining heavyweight fight! Many “top” heavyweights should take note of Mike Perez and Mago Abdusalamov. I am not saying that every fight needs to be as brutal but I bet many of the younger fans didn’t think it possible that a heavyweight could throw more than one punch at a time! Unfortunately for Mago, he is now in an induced coma which brings me to my main thought of this fight: What the f__k is wrong with that man’s corner??? From very early in the fight Mago was asking about swelling on his face, and whether his nose was broken, and fought half the fight with his mouth open! A cornerman needs to know how to take care of his fighter. Mago’s cornerman does not. A good trainer should not wait for the fighter to verbalize the word: “Enough!” Stevens’ didn’t have to say “Stop the fight” for his corner to know that he had had enough. Sunday mornings like this, when I open the boxing news and the first thing I see is that a boxer (any boxer) is in a coma because of a fight sours me a little towards the sport. I am just sending good vibes Mago’s way and hope he fully recovers. Once he recovers he needs to rethink his relationship with his trainer. – Hector
If Abdusalamov recovers – and I’ll be praying along with many others for him to return to 100 percent health – I think he’ll have more to rethink than his relationship with his trainer. He’ll need to seriously reconsider his boxing career. I believe having an operation due to a head injury places Mago on the New York State Athletic Commission’s indefinite medical suspension list. And all commissions in the U.S. are supposed to honor medical suspensions of other states, but you and I both know that boxers can sometimes get around these things if they fight it enough.
It really sucks because Abdusalamov’s condition probably could have been prevented, as you noted, if his corner – which included trainer John David Jackson and his father – had the sensitivity or perhaps the courage to stop the fight when he’d had enough.
It was a compelling heavyweight slugfest through four rounds, but it was also evident to most observers that Mago was taking an alarming beating by the end of the fifth round. That’s when HBO’s commentators mentioned the condition of his jaw/cheek swelling. They praised his heart in the sixth round but also noted the punishment he was absorbing.
When Mago hesitated to sit down in his corner after the sixth and asked (according to HBO’s Russian interpreter) “Is the side of my face swollen?” I thought it was a prime time for his corner to tell the ref that their man was done of the night.
Midway through the seventh round, Max Kellerman noted that Mago’s question to his corner was an indication that he may have wanted out. Roy Jones concurred and added that the Russian was “taking a bad beating.”
A lot of fans and media that I follow on Twitter agreed. Here’s my 10th Tweet during the fight:
One Tweet later:
Mago’s corner must have really believed that he was going to score his 19th consecutive knockout, and to his credit he kept coming back and landing shots, but still, cumulative damage needed to be taken into consideration with this fight. After Tweeting “maybe I spoke too soon,” my last Tweet during the fight, just before the 10th and final round read:
Abdusalamov should not have fought that last round. Rounds eight, nine and 10 were unnecessary, in my opinion, but the sad thing is that the damage that he suffered to his brain probably happened earlier in the fight.
You’re absolutely correct that Andre Rozier pulled his fighter out of a punishing fight at the right time. Stevens had not only taken a beating in rounds six, seven and eight, but it was clear in the eighth that he had no shot of pulling the fight out. He had lost the edge on his speed and reflexes due to GGG’s body shots which enabled the undefeated middleweight titleholder to see his counter shots and either block or lean away from them. The competition of the fight was over at that point.
It was also clear that Stevens was probably going to be dropped very hard in the ninth or 10th round had the fight continued. Rozier saved his fighter from serious damage and he spared his nephew’s pride.
Stevens should be fine in his next fight. I hope Segura and Marquez will be OK going forward but I wouldn’t be surprised if both lose a step from the fierce and grueling 12 rounds of war that they waged on Saturday in Mexico. It was that kind of fight. I think it was the best fight of 2013 so far. I was ringside for Tim Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov and Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado II, and I think Segura-Marquez beat both out in terms of sustained action, ebb and flow, and drama.
Where does Segura go from here? Well, that war with Marquez was a title-elimination bout for the WBO belt held by Juan Estrada. That’s gonna be another barnburner when it happens. By the way, Estrada will be the ninth major titleholder that the 31-year-old Segura has faced during his always entertaining but underrated career. In my view, he’s one of boxing’s most successful overachievers of the last 15-20 years. He’s also one of my favorite fighters. I love his fighting spirit.
I don’t know why Segura wasn’t rated by THE RING at flyweight (he was 2-2 in his last four bouts before Saturday, though his losses were to top-rated Brian Viloria and Edgar Sosa) but he will be. Marquez was rated No. 3 going into the fight.
Does Stevens have a serious future at middleweight? I think so. As Abel Sanchez told RingTV, the version of “Showtime” that fought GGG will beat most of the other top 160 pounders. I’d love to see him take on WBO beltholder Peter Quillin or the winner of the Darren Barker-Felix Sturm IBF title fight.
Sadly, I think Stevens will have an easier time getting a “name” middleweight into the ring than Golovkin.
I know that GGG haters and boxing nerds will say that Golovkin was troubled by Stevens’ hand speed and will thus get “fully exposed” if and when he ever faces the elite likes of Martinez and Andre Ward, but I seriously doubt that those fighters and their handlers view the Kazakh puncher as such an easy mark.
I don’t think Martinez or Ward will go near GGG in 2014. They can make good money fighting beatable opponents. That’s OK. As long as Golovkin continues to stay busy (his team is talking about another four-bout year in 2014) his profile and popularity will increase with each fight. Eventually, his name will be big enough to ensure that his rivals make enough money to take the risk in fighting him.
In the meantime, he should try to fight the best fighters who are willing to challenge him. His top two contenders (rated by the WBA) are Martin Murray and Daniel Geale. I think both guys would make for entertaining and significant fights.
GOLOVKIN (WHO ELSE?)
Hows it going Doug,
What did you think of Golovkin? I was pretty impressed again. His jab was laser accurate and I thought he showed great patience picking his spots when he had Stevens on the ropes. It’s not easy to land clean shots when you got a guy covering himself up the way Stevens did, but Golovkin found ways to land punishing body shots and that right cross looked crisp all night. I give Stevens a lot of credit for getting up after that monstrous left hook he took in round two, and he did manage to touch Golovkin a few times with some solid looking shots.
Golovkin was a little cautious due to Stevens power, but I thought it was Stevens’ advantage in the speed department that gave Golovkin the most trouble. Golovkin is a great technician and slugger, but I have always thought his speed was about average. Provided Quillin gets by Daniel Jacobs in February, I think a Quillin/Golovkin fight has all the makings to be one of the most compelling fights of the last few years. And even though their names are nowhere near as big as Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, or Duran, I think a matchup of Golovkin/Quillin would be just as much of a middleweight super fight as any of the round robin fights their four predecessors but on.
You hear anything about when Geale intends to return to the ring and who it might be against? Keep up the good work. – Gino
No, I haven’t heard anything about Geale’s next bout but I’d love to see the gritty Aussie in the ring with Golovkin or Stevens in 2014.
If Golovkin and Quillin were to fight in 2014 it would be a big deal among hardcore boxing fans and it would likely deliver fireworks but it wouldn’t be a “super fight” and it wouldn’t come close to creating the kind of buzz in the sports and entertainment worlds that the Four Kings made during their classic round robin during the 1980s. Those ATGs were crossover stars, household names. Golovkin and Quillin are still in the process of making their names in boxing.
By the way, I don’t think Quillin is nearly as quick as Stevens and I don’t think GGG would have as much trouble connecting on Kid Chocolate as he did with the 5-foot-7 power puncher. I think Golovkin would get to Quillin’s body quicker than he did against Stevens. It’s easier to chop down a tree than a stump, if you know what I mean.
Also, while I think Steven’s hand speed – which is impressive – enabled him to land some of his vaunted power shots during the fight, I don’t think Golovkin really had that much “trouble” with it.
Or let me put it this way: Golovkin didn’t have so much trouble with Stevens’ speed that he wasn’t able to drop the New Yorker, take his will and gradually break him down physically. To me, Golovkin looked tight and a little apprehensive in the first round and 2 minutes into the second round, but once he dropped Stevens he seemed to relax a bit and went about his usual business of getting in the other guy’s ass Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. style.
GOLOVKIN SOLID, NOT PERFECT
Good win by Golovkin, as he showed very solid fundamentals (footwork, combos, jab, setups), but I thought this fight more than any exposed some holes. First, as good as his jab is, he seemed to be very susceptible to the jab himself. As little as Stevens threw his (and with short arms), he seemed to have a hard time missing. The other thing I noticed was that Golovkin’s defense seemed worse than I recall it being previously. I guess because his offense is so much a part of his defense, it hasn’t really come out, but when Stevens did get around to throwing combos, it seemed like he hit every shot. Very little head movement out of GGG. He never really hurt Golovkin, but there’s got to be another fighter out there (maybe Martinez) that will take advantage of what Stevens did not. Still a great performance on GGG’s part, but he’s not the perfect fighter I’ve been building up in my mind. – Keith
No, Golovkin is not perfect athletically or technically speaking. He doesn’t have fluid footwork, quick reflexes or fast hands. He’s not a slick boxer with savvy head or upper-body movement. But he’s effective in everything he does – brutally effective. He’s got good balance and he knows how to cut the ring off. He gets good leverage on all of his shots and he’s a decent counter puncher, too. He’s also pretty good at blocking punches.
When Golovkin puts his attributes together he makes it very hard for his opponents to be effective doing what they normally do in the ring. Stevens was able to get his jab off and he was also able to land some of his power punches, but he was not able to do so with any sort of regularity. He was not able to mount enough offense to hurt or discourage Golovkin at any point of the fight.
The painful fact that Stevens had to come to grips with almost immediately in the bout was that the more he let his hands go the more he was hit in return. And while he’s not a pretty operator in the ring, Golovkin has some craft to his attack. He’s thinking about how and where he will land every devastating punch he throws at his opponents. Golovkin is not just putting forth blind pressure and volume. And he’s not as easy to hit as his detractors wish to believe.
According to CompuBox, Stevens landed 74 total punches during eight complete rounds, an average of less than 10 punches landed per round. I thought he landed about 15 flush power shots – most of them during rounds four and five, which I scored for him – but apart from backing GGG off for a few seconds none of them really did anything.
Golvokin’s iron chin, smart work rate and brute physical strength makes up for his lack of speed and savvy. Can fast, awkward, savvy and experienced southpaw like Martinez give him a run for his money? You better believe it. Let’s hope Martinez-Golovkin happens in the near future. I still favor GGG, but thanks to Stevens there will be more fans and media members who pick the aging lineal champ to win.
The debate will only make the buildup to the middleweight championship even more entertaining.
GOLOVKIN SHOULD STAY AT 160
Hope you enjoyed the fights this weekend. I think GGG looked good cutting off the ring and breaking down a very very tough opponent that’s been TKOed twice but never really been seriously hurt in nine years in the ring. The problem that I’ve had from the beginning with triple G is that he doesn’t use great head movement. Last night he got hit more then I would have liked to have seen and frankly if I wasn`t convinced before, I am now, a boxer with superior foot speed and hand speed could give GGG a lot of problems. There’s lots of talk that he`s going to move up if he can`t get a fight with Sergio Martinez. Personally I hope he gets that fight because I think it would be a barn burner of epic proportions, a la Cotto-Margarito I. And like that fight I wouldn`t have a clue going into who was going to win. That being said if he did move up how do you think he`d fair against guys like Ward, Carl Froch, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Mikkel Kessler, Sakio Bika, Edwin Rodriguez or Andre Dirrell? I think you’d have to make Ward a clear favourite if they ever fought and I’d slightly favour Froch due to his size, cagey boxing skills and legendary toughness….but the rest in mind would be pick’em fights. What do ya think? Cheers. – Owen
I think Ward and Froch are the two biggest threats to Golovkin’s reign of terror. I’d favor Ward on points but only slightly so. I think Golovkin’s body attack could turn that fight in his favor. I think Froch-Golovkin is a tossup, but the Englishman’s chin, versatility and ranginess give him a solid shot at outpointing GGG.
I think Kessler and Dirrell would also compete with Golovkin. However, I don’t think Kessler is busy enough or fights well enough on the inside to favor him. And I don’t think Dirrell (who GGG beat in the 2004 Olympic Games) is active enough or sturdy enough to box the perfect fight against the pressure fighting puncher.
Chavez, Bika and Rodriguez would be broken down to late stoppage in my opinion.
Anyway, I’ll be ringside for Ward-Rodriguez and I’ll be watching Froch-Groves. If the top two 168 pounders keep their titles it will be interesting to see if they mention Golovkin during their post-fight interviews.
NOT GOLOVKIN’S BEST
Hey Doug–read the mailbag often but this is my first time writing in.
Just got finished watching GGG-Stevens. Was it just me or did Golovkin look and fight more tense in this fight? I guess it could be that he was fighting a quick, explosive puncher and he was cautious, or maybe he feels the pressure from all the buzz he’s been creating. Anyway, it looked to me like he was a little uncomfortable in the ring tonight.
Certainly this wasn’t his most dominating performance–he needs to work a little on his speed and his head movement. Stevens cracked him a few times and was definitely quicker, despite what GGG said in the post-fight interview. That said, his defense isn’t bad for a guy who puts himself in the danger zone so much by attacking. Certainly it’s better than any other pressure fighter currently in the sport. It also goes without saying that he is the best body puncher in the sport now.
I think the guy who beats Golovkin is going to have to use speed to get off first, stay off the ropes (easier said than done) and tie him up in close. Definitely I think Ward would beat him–he has the speed and size, because GGG looks like a perfect middleweight and would be giving up size and power at 168.
Martinez at this stage still has a shot to beat GGG-if he does I think he needs to do it early. He’s a great, fast counter puncher and GGG could play into his hands coming forward. Sergio could counter him hard as GGG tried to work his way in. Macklin and Murray gave Martinez problems because they were defensive and made Sergio lead. However, if Sergio doesn’t hurt GGG early then he’d get run down and stopped. His legs are aging and he leads with the liver as a southpaw. He also is not that effective when a fighter gets close to him. I’ll say that’s a 60-40 fight in GGG’s favor. Take it easy Doug. – JJ
That’s how I see the Martinez-Golovkin matchup, with GGG being a solid but not overwhelming favorite in what should be a good, competitive fight. I don’t think the fight will happen in 2014 but if Martinez is still around in 2015 (and still champ), I think the fight could happen. Golovkin just needs to stay busy and keep winning.
I love that Golovkin is already scheduled to fight on Feb. 1. I also love that the Stevens fight makes everyone think that Golovkin has no shot against Ward. It gives hardcore fans one more thing to argue about and debate.
The funny thing about boxing is that if Ward loses just one round to Rodriguez or suffers one wobbly moment during that fight – something I think is entirely possible given his inactivity – everyone who thinks he can beat GGG easily will flip-flop on their opinion (or at least have serious second thoughts).
I agree that the guy who beats Golovkin is going to have to use speed to get off first, stay off the ropes and tie him up in close, but that guy is also going to have to be very strong – physically and mentally – and he’ll have to be able to take a hell of a shot. I know that Ward is extremely strong and he’s got an iron will, but I’m not sure he’s got an iron chin (or an iron liver). And I’m sure he’s got good power but I wonder if he hits hard enough to hurt Golovkin.
I know he stopped Chad Dawson but he was facing a guy who not only came down to a weight he hadn’t been at for years but also someone who had suffered a knockout in training camp.
Anyway, thanks for finally writing in. I have a feeling the Ward-Golovkin analysis and debate is going to be very popular on social media during the next 12-18 months.
STEVENS IS NO MARAVILLA
Hey Doug, how’s it going?
Great job by Triple G. I’m not a fan but you have to give credit where credit is due. However, Stevens showed, or “exposed” as is the popular term, that Golovkin can be out boxed by a faster opponent. I think a healthy Sergio Martinez will outbox GGG. Of course, Golovkin has a puncher’s chance against Sergio, but Maravilla will not sit on the ropes as Stevens did and is WAY craftier than Stevens. Stevens was having success when he was getting off first but was an easy target on the ropes. Props to Triple G but I’d still put my money on a healthy Martinez. Kid Chocolate can outbox Triple G, too. Although, that bout is a huge long shot.
And, why were the fans sitting on their hands during the Perez-Abdusalamov fight? We don’t get heavyweight bouts like this and there were only five to six people clapping after each round. I was rooting for Irish Mike, mainly because Jim Lampley and the gang who were all over Mago’s nuts as they usually do for all HBO house fighters, but Mago was no loser in this bout. There was no quit in either cat and these guys took some serious punishment. C’mon NY!!! The only losers on Sat were the jackasses in the stands who couldn’t show these warriors some love. It would be a different story at the Home Depot/Stub Hub Center in Cali. – Hugo
I thought the crowd at the Theater in Madison Square Garden was into the Perez-Mago bout. They were just way more into Golovkin-Stevens, which was to be expected. Stevens is from Brooklyn and GGG, who fought there in January and has twice fought upstate, brought out some of New York’s Kazakhstani population (as well as hardcore fans).
I like Kid Chocolate but I don’t see him outboxing Golovkin, at least not for 12 rounds. His stamina is suspect, he’s open for too many punches and goes to the ropes too much.
I can envision Martinez outpointing GGG over 12, but unlike you, I wouldn’t put any money on it. Yeah, a healthy Martinez would give Golovkin fits but do you really think the Argentine lefty will ever be 100 percent again? I think it’s clear that he’s been on the slide since the Barker fight and the damage he sustained against Chavez and Murray is not going to disappear at his age.
We all know Martinez is not going to fight GGG in his next fight. He’ll probably have a comeback fight before settling on a significant bout, such as a PPV showdown with Miguel Cotto, next year. Even if he wins both bouts handily, he could sustain more physical damage.
If Martinez ever fights Golovkin, he’ll be pushing 40 by the time they get it on and I seriously doubt he’ll have an injury free body.
I know Martinez won’t go to the ropes or just cover up the way Stevens did but he won’t be as explosive as the younger man was, which means GGG won’t be as apprehensive. Martinez won’t be as difficult to nail with clean power shots because he tends to keep his hands down and he lets his hands go a hell of a lot more than Stevens. That means he’ll be getting hit – a lot. And his soon-to-be 39-year-old body definitely won’t be as resilient as the 28-year-old body of Stevens.
IS GGG FIGHTER OF THE YEAR?
Don’t you think GGG should get fighter of the year? 4 knockouts in one year? Come on it’s a no brainer. – Nick, San Diego
No, I don’t think Golovkin is the Fighter of the Year. He’s a candidate but I think Adonis Stevens (if he beats Tony Bellew), Floyd Mayweather, Tim Bradley, Danny Garcia and even oldman Bernard Hopkins are ahead of him for that honor.
Boxing scribe/historian/flyweight advocate Cliff Rold points out that if former junior flyweight titleholder Edgar Sosa beats Akira Yaegashi for THE RING/WBC 112-pound belts next month the 34-year-old Mexican veteran deserves the honor.
Rold has a point. Sosa knocked out two-time 108-pound titleholder Ulises Solis in two rounds in March and outpointed the always dangerous Segura in May. Those are two quality opponents (way more accomplished than anyone Golovkin fought this year, or any year for that matter). For me the Fighter of the Year won’t be decided until December.
Photo / Naoki Fukuda
Email Dougie at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer