Golovkin makes Southern California his new home with Rubio KO
CARSON, California – Gennady Golovkin was born and raised in Kazakhstan. He turned pro in Germany, where he lived and climbed the middleweight rankings from 2006 to 2009.
Since winning the WBA middleweight title in 2010, Golovkin has fought in Panama, Ukraine, Monaco, Connecticut and four times in New York. But make no mistake, his home is in Southern California.
Southern California is where he hooked up with Abel Sanchez four years ago, and it was in the veteran trainer’s Big Bear mountain gym that Golovkin began developing his “Mexican Style.” Fast forward to Saturday night’s title bout against Marco Antonio Rubio, Southern California is where 9,323 fans stuffed the StubHub Center to watch Golovkin ply his brutal trade.
It was the largest audience the outdoor venue formerly known as Home Depot Center has ever hosted for boxing. More fans were on hand at StubHub to see Golovkin destroy Rubio, who some odds makers made as much as 70-1 underdog, than there were for Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez I and III, Antonio Margarito-Paul Williams, Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado I, Tim Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov, and Andre Ward-Arthur Abraham.
Golovkin-Rubio wasn’t nearly as competitive as those fights, but the overflow crowd didn’t seem to mind. After dominating the opening round, Golovkin (31-0, 28 knockouts) halted Rubio with a right uppercut followed by a hook in Round 2. The Mexican veteran beat referee Jack Reiss’ 10 Count but didn’t convince the official that he could defend himself against the 2004 Olympic silver medalist. Time of the stoppage was 1:19.
It was Golovkin’s 12th defense of the WBA title and his 18th consecutive stoppage victory. But those stats aren’t the story of this fight. The fact that event, which was televised live on HBO, sold out one month ago is the story of this fight.
The fact that the crowd was there to see Golovkin is the story of the event, which was called “Mexican Style” because of the guy from Kazakhstan, not the guy from Mexico.
The majority of fans in attendance were of Mexican descent but they weren’t cheering on Rubio (59-7-1, 51 KOs). They were chanting Golovkin’s nickname, “GGG,” before the fighters entered the ring. They chanted it during the fight and they continued to chant it after both fighters had left the ring.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” Golovkin said. “I hurt him with the left hook and I really finished him with the right hand.”
The budding 32-year-old star was obviously pleased with his California debut.
“I’m thrilled to fight here. This is my second home,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back into the ring and defend my title again.”
And fans, especially those who reside in the greater Los Angeles area, can’t wait to see him do it.
Golovkin posted respectable numbers in his previous fight, a third-round stoppage of Daniel Geale at Madison Square Garden in July, drawing around 8,500 to the big arena of the storied New York City venue, but the buzz around that fight was nothing compared to the insane demand that preceded the “Mexican Style” event.
Extra seats had to be added to StubHub, which normally holds around 8,000, three times after the event officially sold out.
Who knows how many fans could have been accommodated had the Rubio fight taken place at The Forum in Inglewood, or the Sports Arena or Staples Center in L.A.?
Those are certainly venues that Golovkin’s promotional company, K2 Promotions, will consider for middleweight’s Southern California return, but K2 managing director Tom Loeffler told RingTV.com that location of GGG’s next fight depends on who he fights.
“It depends on the opponent,” Loeffler told RingTV.com a few days before the Rubio fight. “If it’s Miguel Cotto, the East Coast makes sense. If it’s Canelo [Alvarez] or [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., it’s the going to be on the West Coast.”
Loeffler added that Golovkin, who has fought twice in Monaco since making his U.S. (and HBO) debut in 2012, will continue to fight overseas.
“There’s always going to be an international fight because Gennady wants to fight three and four times a year and HBO can’t accommodate his activity,” he said. “Golovkin has fans in other countries. Plus, he’s got potential opponents in other countries. There’s Carl Froch and Martin Murray in Britain. There’s Arthur Abraham or the winner of Abraham versus the winner of [Robert] Stieglitz-[Felix] Sturm in Germany. There’s Mikkel Kessler in Denmark.”
In other words, Loeffler and Golovkin are willing to go wherever the biggest fight can be made. With the exception of a Froch fight in Britain, by far the biggest events for Golovkin would be pay-per-view level showdowns against Cotto, Alvarez or Chavez Jr. in the U.S.
Unfortunately for Golovkin, Cotto and Alvarez appear on a collision course next year, while Froch and Chavez Jr. are close to making their own fight for 2015. GGG might have to bide his time a little longer before getting a big-name opponent.
That’s OK. He likes to stay busy and no matter who he fights he knows he’s got a lot of fans at home – Southern California – who can’t wait to see him.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer