By Sean Crose
An odd thing happened Saturday night (or was it very early Sunday morning?). Five of the top ten trending topics on American Twitter had to do with boxing. That’s right, boxing. This reporter can’t remember ever seeing such a phenomenon, even after a Floyd Mayweather fight.
The reason for the sudden online surge in popularity for the sweet science? A Kazakh middleweight by the name of Gennady Golovkin, or, as some like to call him, GGG, or even Good Boy. Things like Twitter trends can be easily shrugged off, but they can also be exceedingly telling.
And in the case of Golovkin, they were exceedingly telling. For here, obviously, was a boxer – a boxer!- who could capture the attention of a large part of the American population (if, albeit, for an extremely brief period of time).
At the moment Mayweather is the only fighter who’s a bona fide household name in the United States and beyond (ask people who aren’t fight fans who Manny Pacquiao is and many won’t be able to tell you). That’s not a bad thing, of course, as there are usually only one or two boxers at a time who the whole world recognizes in a given decade.
Yet Mayweather’s reign is inevitably coming to an end sooner rather than later and the sport is rapidly approaching a time where it’s going to be in need of a new face. And while fight fans knew Golovkin was a star on the rise before this weekend, the man’s destruction of the game and talented David Geale seemed to up the fighter’s fame potential exponentially.
Here’s some interesting data. A Google search for Canelo Alvarez on Monday afternoon resulted in 13,800 results. A Google search for Danny Garcia resulted in 16,300 results. A Google search for Adrien Broner resulted in 1,360 results. And a Google search for Gannady Golovkin?
Granted this crude research was conducted less than 48 hours after a very impressive Golovkin win. Still, Alvarez, Garcia and Broner have all been in the news lately for recent or upcoming bouts. It’s not like these men have been out of the public eye, after all. Yet only the enormously popular Alvarez generated anywhere near the number of results Golovkin did. And Golovkin still generated a whole 2,500 more results than Alvarez.
Of course none of this means Golovkin is guaranteed to become a household name. Indeed, a Google search for Floyd Mayweather on Monday generated a whopping 15,300,000 results. That’s more than 93 times the amount Golovkin generated. In short, Golovkin has a long, long way to go before he breaks out of the margins into and the American mainstream.
It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that the WBA middleweight champ does seem to possess some of the “it” factors needed for breakout success. First of all, he’s exciting. Very exciting. 17 straight knockouts exciting.
He also, like Canelo Alvarez, isn’t intimidating outside of the ring. In fact, he’s likable. You could picture him one day in the near future using his broken English to his advantage (a la Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the day) to sell products for advertizes. And endorsements, more than anything else, are the surest sign that an athlete has broken through the western world’s pop culture ceiling.
Still, it’s good to keep in mind that Golovkin remains a relatively untested commodity. There are no great or notable opponents on his record, no Alvarez’, Chavez’ or Cottos’. He’s also not a big enough draw yet to force the hands (or gloves) of those men into a bout with him. Such facts can obviously work against him.
The internet can tell an interesting tale, however, and right now it might be telling an interesting one about Golovkin’s ability to reach the masses. Provided, of course, that someone doesn’t hand GGG a check in the loss column in the meantime.