GGG Is Running Out of Excuses
By: Kirk Jackson
Gennady “GGG” Golovkin 34-0 (31 KO’s) is thought of by many, as boxing’s current Boogeyman.
The 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist from Kazakhstan is the reigning IBF and WBA ‘Super World’ Middleweight champion and highly regarded as one of the best fighters pound for pound.
Revered for his cosmic punching power, precision, overall technique and granite chin, it’s easy to see why Golovkin is regarded as a top tier fighter. The man from Kazakhstan also boasts an unblemished record, which is something certainly held in high regard these days.
With everyone from esteemed HBO Boxing analyst Max Kellerman, to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless gushing over Golovkin at every opportunity, the chronicle that is “GGG” has been embedded across the minds of many casual and even some hardcore boxing fans.
And of course not to be forgotten, there is wonderful promotion from Golovkin’s trainer/manager Abel Sanchez and from Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler.
The illustration of Golovkin standing as an indomitable warrior everyone is frightened to fight, is a vision constructed over the past few years by all of the aforementioned parties.
But the legend that is “GGG” can be perceived as a false narrative.
Although Golovkin is an impressive fighter, his resume leaves much to be desired. The 34-year-old is essentially a 10 year veteran of professional boxing and has yet to face anyone of note on the elite level.
My sincere apologies to Martin Murray, David Lemieux and some of the other fighters in the middleweight division who may be offended.
It may be difficult to criticize Golovkin in the “Alphabet title era,” but can anyone name three of his opponents without looking up www.boxrec.com?
What is interesting is despite Golovkin’s shortcomings or lack or quality opposition, he is given a pass from most media outlets and fans.
It’s hard to make an argument for Golovkin being the most avoided fighter in the sport, when there is several fighters calling him out; Erislandy Lara, James DeGale, Andre Ward, just to name a few.
One reason Golovkin’s handlers may be swerving these challengers left and right is the risk for these potential match-ups; the risks may not merit enough for the potential reward.
Although another factor to consider into the equation of certain fights not occurring is the politics involved with boxing. The politics existing within boxing between various promotional companies, sanctioning bodies and networks.
Some fighters exclusively fight on certain networks (Showtime, HBO), deal with certain promotional companies (Top Rank, Golden Boy), thus nixing some favorable match-ups from a fan perspective.
Ultimately network and promotional politics may have played a part in the opponent selection process for Tom Loeffler and Team Golovkin.
Drawing back to the risk vs. reward factor, Golovkin’s opponent selection, from an economic standpoint, makes absolute sense.
Fight guys from a stylistic standpoint who match-up favorably with Golovkin; beat these guys decisively, play into the notion of a dominant, invincible figure, feed into the hype of being acknowledged as the most avoided similar to Antonio Margarito; build upon the mystique, generate a buzz, generate money.
Reduce the risk by facing limited opposition, hold out for a bigger potential reward fighting another fighter of note down the line that can generate the money you want. That’s where attempting to fight Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez comes into play.
Along with Manny Pacquiao, those fighters are the highest grossing and most popular figures of the sport. They happen to be physically smaller than Golovkin, with Mayweather, Cotto and Alvarez having fought predominantly below the middleweight division for their respective careers.
Now even with analyzing some cases where challenges have been issued towards Golovkin and in turn ignored from Golovkin’s team because the challenger did not measure up to the reward metric, the risk vs. reward factor does not necessarily apply to every situation.
That’s supposedly why Team Golovkin opted to fight Willie Monroe Jr. instead of Erislandy Lara.
Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, thought Monroe was the bigger name and better choice; thus that’s why he was selected over opting for a fight with Lara. Which is interesting considering Lara headlined a Pay-Per-View event with Saul Alvarez.
Now according to Sanchez, even though Alvarez isn’t a draw, he has better Pay-Per-View numbers than Golovkin and you’re still trying to fight him? Why not move on?
Why isn’t Golovkin criticized like other fighters for their apparent lack of opposition?
Because thus far, Golovkin is fighting limited opposition and that’s a fact. The best name on his resume arguably is Daniel Geale or David Lemieux. Neither guys are household names and are not regarded by most pundits as upper tier, elite fighters.
It appears fans and critics alike are quick to criticize fighters like Danny Garcia or Floyd Mayweather for example. With all of the criticism Danny Garcia faces, he virtually cleaned out the junior welterweight division and moved up to welterweight in search of greater fights.
Defeating Amir Khan, Robert Guerrero, (washed up versions) of Erik Morales, Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah, (prime versions) of Lucas Matthyese, Lamont Peterson and Mauricio Herrera (albeit controversial), is certainly more impressive than anything GGG accomplished as a professional.
For some reason Garcia is not even considered a top 10 fighter P4P via Ring Magazine and by other boxing publications.
Mayweather is an eleven-time world champion, 26-0 (10 KO’s) in world title fights, 23-0 (9 KO’s) in lineal title fights, 24-0 (7 KO’s) world titlists. He defeated the big names from his era (including the fighter of the decade), guys from his preceding era and guys from the upcoming era.
So why are their resumes dissected so harshly and not so much Golovkin?
In an interesting comparison, Mayweather and Golovkin actually share a lot in common.
Both are undefeated as professionals, both world champions, they reportedly possess a tremendous work ethic, they are Olympic Medalists and both have a skill set that essentially makes the average opponent look mediocre.
Only difference is Mayweather tested his abilities against higher levels of opposition consistently and extremely early in his career, having bested the late Genaro Hernandez in his 18th professional fight at the age of 21.
Another difference of course is the level of scrutiny each one faces from the media; overall public perception.
By all accounts Golovkin appears to be a nice guy, down to earth, all that good stuff. But in the fight game, there is still a blank canvas that needs further illustration.
In regards to some of the missed opportunities for Golovkin, the choices vary.
Again with the aforementioned Erislandy Lara 22-2-2 (13 KO’s), the current WBA Super Welterweight Champion, he willing to move up in weight to fight Golovkin.
“There are a lot of people that are down to fight Golovkin. It’s just not the right people Golovkin wants. I understand he feels he is on the super star stage, but Erislandy Lara has been calling out Golovkin for a year now,” Former WBA Super Welterweight Champion Austin Trout told Sky Sports.
“If you look at everyone he has fought, they just all stand there. The one guy (Willie Monroe Jr.) who had good speed, had absolutely no power to keep him off. They are feeding him the perfect guy to make him look great, which I’m not mad about. I wish I had it so easy.”
Is the Al Haymon vs. HBO factor a large enough thorn to thwart this fight from happening? Or is it more so the case or Lara being too good of a fighter and too much of a threat?
We also have the case for Golovkin vs. Andre Ward 29-0 (15 KO’s). As each day passes, it appears this match-up seems more so like a fantasy as opposed to a match occurring in our reality.
You would think a match featuring an Olympic Silver Medalist (Golovkin) vs. an Olympic Gold Medalist (Ward) from the same Olympic Games (Athens 2004) would create enough intrigue with the network (HBO).
Both guys are world champions, undefeated; they even fight under the same athletic apparel company (Jordan).
For whatever reason, this highly intriguing match-up never manifested, as Golovkin’s team is preoccupied chasing other options.
In the past Sanchez was quoted as saying, “Ward is not relevant.” Very interesting.
Tom Loeffler appears to echo the same sentiments of Abel Sanchez and wants Ward to go through a gauntlet of stiff challenges before facing their prized pupil. The Ward vs. Golovkin fight is a story for another day.
Golovkin is approaching his mid-thirties and probably has a short shelf life in the sport; so the goal would be to maximize monetary opportunities. Thus the pursuit of Mayweather, Alvarez and Cotto.
Can’t blame Golovkin for seeking the best financial opportunities. Boxing is a dangerous sport and long standing health is not guaranteed. Golovkin is a good fighter, a consummate professional and definitely deserves large pay days.
But time is running thin and Dominic Wade 18-0 (12 KO’s) is not exactly a step up in opposition for Golovkin.
Many spectators argue Wade lost his last fight against former champion-turned-journeyman Sam Soliman 44-13 (18 KO’s), as Wade was awarded with the split decision victory.
By all accounts, Wade is not a stiff challenge. When it comes to the subject of another example of soft opposition, the excuses are tenfold but there may not be enough evidence to support the claims from the “GGG” fan base.
This can be viewed as an example of HBO protecting and building a product; matching him with limited opposition, while the commentary team manipulates viewers with false commentary and misconceptions of grandeur from Golovkin.
We’ll see an example of that this weekend. We’ll hear the commentary team herald the exploits of Gennady Golovkin, over saturate our ears with compliments so that the viewer is well informed about Golovkin’s greatness.
As a fan, we ask these fighters, these athletes to prove their greatness. Even for fighters we despise; the great ones proved their greatness at some point. The great ones embrace the challenge and combat it.
Politics are definitely a part of the sport and it would be unfair to place the entire blame on Golovkin’s team. There has to be compromise from both sides and there typically is an issue involving the networks when talking about potential match-ups.
At the end of the day, fans and critics want fighters to deliver even amidst the staple of politics. If guys are afraid of you and you can’t get the challenge you desire, move up in weight. Many great fighters of the past and even currently moved up in weight seeking greater opportunities.
Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Roy Jones, Sugar Ray Leonard, Alexis Arguello, Tommy Hearns, Ray Robinson, all moved up in weight seeking bigger challenges and purses.
The argument can be made Golovkin is running out of opponents; but the argument can be made he is running out of excuses for facing bad quality opposition. Time for him to step up.