Gennady Golovkin in a slightly new light: Weekend Review
Gennady Golovkin: I had been repeating something about Triple-G to anyone who would listen: He appears to be a great fighter but we can’t be certain of that until he fights a better level of opposition.
On Saturday, that’s what he did. I still believe in him after his fifth round knockout of welterweight-turned-middleweight Kell Brook on Saturday in London but his performance was anything but great. Even Golovkin gave himself a three on a scale of 1-to-10 after the fight. We saw flaws we’d never seen before, as Brook was able to land clean, hard punches for a short time in a fight that was competitive for four rounds.
Golovkin (36-0, 33 knockouts) praised Brook’s ability to maintain an effective distance from him. Abel Sanchez, Triple-G’s trainer, said his fighter was trying too hard to score a knockout. Whatever the reason, Golovkin looked vulnerable for the first time.
Does that mean he’s not great or at least on his way there? Of course not. Every great fighter in the history of boxing has had shaky moments on his way up. It merely demonstrated that a beast is also human. And, in the long run, that could be good for one of the most-avoided fighters on the planet and the sport.
“Maybe (Brook’s performance) will give (other opponents) courage to actually sign a contract,” Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions told The Guardian.
It probably will. THE RING magazine champion Canelo Alvarez and Danny Jacobs, as well as WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, have to be more confident about their chances against Triple-G today today than they were before the fight at the O2 Arena.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to see things play out naturally. Brook evidently suffered a broken right eye socket, which obviously played a role in trainer Dominic Ingle’s decision to end the fight.
That’s not to say the ending wouldn’t have come before the final bell anyway. Even on his worst night, Golovkin is still a special fighter and, on this night, was facing an opponent who was a welterweight in his previous fight.
“(Brook’s) strong but he’s not a middleweight,” Golovkin said.
So the ending almost everybody expected became reality – with some surprising twists.
Kell Brook: Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) has to be thinking that an opportunity to make history slipped through his gloves. For a few rounds, a natural 154-pounder (at most) fought on even terms with a fighter who some believe is among the best middleweights ever.
Then, in what seemed like an instant, it was over. Whether it was the eye or an accumulation of punishing punches – or both – Brook could no longer continue.
He had enough time to make a statement, though. He was brave and temporarily effective, standing his ground against the most-feared puncher in the sport and connecting on enough punches to raise the prospect of a tremendous upset for a few fleeting moments.
That’s not a great accomplishment but Brook can say he did something no one else has: He gave Golovkin trouble against impossible odds. That should be recognized.
What’s next? Brook isn’t at his best at an unnatural 160 pounds but, based on his history and what we saw on Saturday night, he could be a terror at 154. And he made clear after his setback that that’s where he plans to fight after having grown out of the welterweight division.
That sets up all kinds of intriguing possibilities. Canelo Alvarez, if he decides to stay at 154 for one more fight? Tell me that wouldn’t be interesting given the events of Saturday. Amir Khan? That all-England matchup has been in the works forever and was mentioned again by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who promotes Brook. Erislandy Lara? Jermall Charlo? Jermell Charlo? Miguel Cotto? Demetrius Andrade? The list of possibilities in a deep division goes on.
The point is Brook gave a glimpse of what he’s capable of to a wide audience on Saturday night. Now it’s time for him to show what he can do against men his size.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Roman Gonzalez: Golovkin wasn’t the only great fighter who looked human on Saturday night.
Gonzalez, the No. 1 fighter in the world, had to dig deep to get past talented Carlos Cuadras for the WBC super flyweight title, by a unanimous decision at the Forum in Inglewood, California. The Nicaraguan had never been tested like that – not even against Juan Francisco Estrada, as he pointed out. His bruised, swollen face was a stunning sight.
In spite of that, the victory only enhanced Gonzalez’s already remarkable legacy.
Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KOs) is no joke. The Mexican is athletic, well-schooled, experienced and naturally bigger than Gonzalez, which obviously was an important factor in the give-and-take fight. Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) had to rely more on his skill and work rate than his punching power, which appears to be at least slightly diminished at a higher weight.
And he still walked away with a major title in a fourth weight division, something his mentor Alexis Arguello wasn’t able to accomplish in an era of fewer sanctioning body belts.
Gonzalez has now won titles at 105, 108, 112 and 115 pounds. He’s 15-0 in world title fights against some of the best fighters in the world. And he has rarely been challenged as Cuadras challenged him. That’s some resume.
I don’t know how much higher Gonzalez can go in terms of weight; he’s only 5-foot-3. He might be at his limit now, at least against top-tier opposition. I think the Cuadras fight demonstrated that.
And while he’s only 29, he’s had 46 fights over more than 11 years as a professional. That has had to take a toll. As everyone knows, the boxing life of smaller fighters is generally shorter than that of larger counterparts.
Savor him while he’s still around because we don’t often see a fighter of his ability. I think it’s a stretch to say he’s better than mentor and countryman Alexis Arguello, as was suggested on the HBO broadcast, but he might attain that kind of status before he’s finished.
Danny Jacobs: Jacobs’ seventh-round knockout of Sergio Mora (28-5-2, 9 KOs) on Friday wasn’t particularly significant – unless it leads directly to Golovkin – but it shouldn’t be underestimated.
Mora has little power but he’s a very clever, experienced boxer who had never been legitimately stopped in his 16-year career. (Mora lost to Jacobs by TKO in their first meeting but that was the result of a broken ankle.) Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) looked like an old pro on Friday as he doggedly stalked Mora, gradually broke him down and then finally stopped him at 2:08 of the seventh. Mora, who went down five times, was soundly beaten.
Jacobs called out Golovkin after the fight. How would Jacobs fare against Triple-G? Possibly better than anyone else at 160 pounds. He has all the tools – quickness, skills, experience and power – and is a natural middleweight, meaning Golovkin wouldn’t have any advantages on paper.
The only question mark – and it’s a big one – is Jacobs’ chin. If you recall, he was put to sleep by one punch against Dmitry Pirog in 2010. What happens when Golovkin catches him? Of course, that was more than six years ago, a lifetime in boxing. Jacobs has grown in many ways since then; he’s stronger physically and mentally. And he’s a better boxer, who is less likely to make a disastrous mistake.
I would pick GGG to beat anyone from 168 pounds down but a matchup with Jacobs would be interesting.
The fast-paced, emotionally charged Robert Easter Jr.–Richard Commey fight for the vacant IBF lightweight title was fun to watch and could’ve gone either way, which made Easter’s split decision victory palatable. A draw might’ve been the most appropriate decision, though. Neither fighter lost in terms of perception. Easter (18-0, 14 KOs) walked away with his first major belt and Commey (24-1, 22 KOs) proved in his first fight against a legitimate contender that he’s more than just a puncher. I look forward to following the careers of both fighters.
I don’t have much to say about the Yoshihiro Kamegai–Jesus Soto Karass rematch on the Gonzalez-Cuadras card other than “Thank you.” Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) and Soto Karass (28-11-4, 18 KOs) have never been special fighters but they are special entertainers. They don’t hold back; they don’t play games. They just fight their hearts out, as we saw again on Saturday. Kamegai showed that he still has some life left in him at 33, stopping his rival after eight rounds. Soto Karass, who is 0-3-1 in his last four fights and 4-8-1 (with one no-contest) in his last 14, might be finished at the same age.
Heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz Jr. (29-0, 19 KOs) easily outpointed Franklin Lawrence (21-3-2, 16 KOs) on Saturday in Lemoore, California. Now it could get interesting. Ruiz reportedly will next face Hughie Fury (20-0, 10 KOs) on the Tyson Fury–Wladimir Klitschko II card on Oct. 29. Ruiz is a talented boxer. Too bad he can’t get his weight under control. Hughie is Tyson’s cousin.
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