By Ivan G. Goldman
A long list of folks keeps saying Gennady Golovkin, who tore through tough Matthew Macklin Saturday night like he was a wet newspaper, hasn’t fought any noteworthy middleweights. They repeat that assessment after every Golovkin contest, and their voices get shriller as the kayos pile up.
It’s hard to set up fights with noteworthy middleweights when they’re practically diving off bridges to get away from you.
Shakespeare had this all figured out over 400 years ago. Methinks, he said, the lady doth protest too much. If these guys think WBA champ Golovkin, 27-0 (24 KOs), isn’t any good, they know how to prove it.
The man from Kazakhstan who trains out of Big Bear, California with American trainer Abel Sanchez has HBO backing him, and that’s no small potatoes, but his promoter K2, run by the savvy Tom Loeffler, doesn’t swing a big enough hammer to get the big boys to sit down and talk title unification.
It’s a situation we see too often in the Balkanized business of boxing. None of the alphabet gangs rank fighters who hold other belts, which means once you hold a title, other title holders can avoid you forever, if that’s what they want. And when they see a guy like Golovkin they figure who needs the aggravation? If this guy lands a clean shot it’s Tweety Bird time. And boxes skillfully enough to get in position to land that shot.
You’d think the backroom dealers would grow at least a little remorseful when they make an argument and then switch to the precisely opposite side when it suits them. What they’re saying about fierce Golovkin now they used to say about Paul Williams, who not so many years ago was the most ducked guy in the sport. He was willing to make fights in any of three weight divisions just to get someone of note to stand still long enough to sign a fight contract. Finally Sergio Martinez, who suffered from the same problem, leveled Williams with one punch in the second round.
Although the backroom boys were relieved to discover Williams was human after all, now that he’d been beaten so easily they figured there was even less reward in fighting him because someone had already put him to sleep.
Lou DiBella, who promotes WBC champ Martinez, 51-2-2 (28 KOs), perhaps figuring the old excuse looks a little more shopworn every time Golovkin scores another kayo, contends lately that Golovkin can’t draw fans. Poor Lou has to move carefully with Martinez, a great fighter who’s now 38, saddled with repeated injuries, and is the veteran of 391 rounds. If he’s not careful Martinez will go over Lou’s head and call out Golovkin. He’s that kind of guy.
The way should have been clear for Golovkin to face IBF titlist Daniel Geale of Australia, who’s promoted by Gary Shaw and has no problems appearing on HBO. Geale will defend his title against England’s Darren Barker on Aug. 17 — on HBO’s BAD. One of the easiest ways not to fight a guy is to fight another guy instead.
Finally we come to WBO champ Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, the Brooklyn slugger whose statistics read very much like Golovkin’s. He’s 29-0 (21 KOs) and is 30 years old. Golovkin is 31. This is the train wreck we ought to see, a fight that can’t miss. But Quillin, whose team is also quick to say Golovkin hasn’t fought anyone of note, is managed (they call it “advised”) by powerful Al Haymon, who’s in league with Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime. Or, as some people see it, Golden Boy and Showtime work for Haymon.
Haymon reminds me of Darth Vader only more sinister. He’s a curious fellow who shuns interviews and is rarely seen by the public. Most promoters and managers love attention. If there’s a TV camera within a mile they’ll smell it out in a minute.
I doubt the talented Quillin fears Golovkin, but I expect Quillin’s handlers feed him on a strict malarkey diet that insists a Golovkin fight would be beneath him. Haymon is the key to a Golovkin-Qulllin contest. Right now it looks about as likely as peace among all nations, but sometimes events — and the lure of big dollars — have a way of altering what’s possible.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.