Gennady Golovkin: He's No Bernard Hopkins... At Least Not Yet
Main photo courtesy of K2 Boxing Promotions
On June 29, Golovkin defeated Matthew Macklin – a reasonably tough opponent.
Macklin is a skilled, solid boxer who refused to be intimidated. And prior to June 29th, was never an easy win for anybody.
The fight between Golovkin and Macklin was supposed to be 'The Test.' If Golovkin could do to Macklin what he did to 23 of the 26 opponents he defeated, we were supposed to find out if Gennady is, indeed, the great fighter HBO has hyped him to be.
When Golovkin dispatched of "Mack the Knife" in 1:22 of round three, he did so with precision, poise and a vicious body shot that rendered Macklin temporarily paralyzed.
Golovkin has excellent hand speed, footwork and power. But what GGG did against Macklin that night is what separates him from other contenders is his ability to be able to keep his composure throughout the fight. He didn't appear to be stressed at any point. He was confident and did what he had to do, which is something a fighter has to be able to do if he'll ever be able to successfully compete on a world championship level.
But since his fight last June, there's been a lot of over-blown rhetoric about Golovkin. Statements like, 'The best middleweight in the world' and 'Possibly the most complete boxer in the middleweight division and maybe in all of boxing' might very well be true but what proof do we have of that?
To be the best, you must beat the best.
Does his knockout of a top 7 or 8 middleweight put him at the top of middleweight division?
Macklin is an elite fighter but has ranked no higher than No. 7 in The RING's Top 10 Middleweights.
Golovkin showed the world that night is he's one helluva body puncher, for sure. His trainer, Abel Sanchez, has been saying for years he likes his fighters to put the defensive responsibility on the other fighter.
"When you are on your heels you can't fire back with power," Sanchez said. "Gennady's best offense is his best defense."
But the way to prove you're a legit fighter in the middleweight division is to fight the best contenders in that division – and win. Not only look impressive against a fella who is arguably a top 7 or 8 contender.
Golovkin said he plans to fight three more times this year. If he can fight and beat one of the better fightersin the division (such as Daniel Geale, Felix Sturm, Peter Quillin, Julio Cesar Chavez or, of course, Sergio Martinez), it would go a long way in proving that Golovkin is the standout the media says he is.
Before the fight last month, the Golovkin camp's goal was to have their man fight five times this year. And over the last 12 months, GGG has been more active than any world class fighter. In less than a year, Golovkin has notched four impressive wins; three of them in 2013.
K2 promoter Tom Loeffler said Golovkin could be back in the ring as soon as August or September of this year. Even though it seems unlikely he'll be back that quickly, Loeffler said they intend to stay on track with their plans for the rest of 2013.
Loeffler said, "GGG definitely wants to fight two more times before year's end." A date of November 2 has been talked about with HBO, and the Theater at Madison Square Garden as the likely venue.
Thirty year old Martin Murray 25-1-1 with 11 KO's of the U.K. is an opponent who piqued the interest of Golovkin. Possibly because Murray gave Sergio Martinez all he could handle in their bout earlier this year. Of course, Golovkin had a great showing against another Brit, (Macklin) who gave the undisputed middleweight champ all he could handle too.
Fact is, if Golovkin can manage to get some of these Top 5 middleweights in the ring, he'll be on the fast track to becoming the next RING Magazine 160 pound champion and perhaps a mainstream star. There might be something to GGG being "The best middleweight in the world."
The division looks ripe for the picking right now until the next heavy hitter comes along and Golovkin goes by way of Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik. He might be on the way to taking Sergio Martinez's place but he's no Bernard Hopkins and there's no doubt about it...
At least not yet.
BHOP held at least a piece of the championship in that class from 1994 until 2005 and beat the best in the division, including other reigning middleweight titleholders.
Moreover, at one time, Hopkins held all four major world titles: WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO.
Having defended a world middleweight title a record 20 times, he is considered one of the greatest middleweight champions of all time. The RING ranked him #3 on their list of the "10 best middleweight title holders of the last 50 years."
Golovkin is good... But is all the hype about his greatness premature?