GGG Hits Madison Avenue
By: Sean Crose
You know you’re doing something right when you start seeing your face all over the place. And Gennady Golovkin may now start seeing his face around more than just boxing publications – a promising sign for any fighter. The fact that Nike has now signed on GGG as a spokesperson for its famed Jordan Brand, however, takes things to a whole new level. Few, very few, fighters, have ever endorsed “Jordans” over the years. Indeed, Golovkin is one of less than five boxers to partake in the honors. In this, he shares rarified boxing air with the likes of Roy Jones Jr. and Andre Ward.
With Canelo Alvarez jumping into his own endorsement deals, it’s clear that Madison Avenue is putting its finger on which boxers in the post Floyd-Manny era it believes will succeed. For, while it’s true that Golovkin will be merely one of numerous “Jordan’s” spokesmen, the mere fact that the Kazakh is now a member of such an elite set speaks volumes.
Truth be told, however, Nike may have good reason for backing the middleweight titlist. For Golovkin is a fearsome foe. Not only can he knock down a brick wall, he’s surprisingly skilled for such a powerful puncher, a fact made evident by his extensive amateur background as well as his ability to cut off the ring like few in the business.
Although he has yet to partake in any “blockbuster” bouts, he’s sold out Madison Square Garden (no small task) and has proved to be extremely popular in Southern California. Some of this has to do, of course, with Golovkin’s own unique brand of self-promotion. Although he’s certainly not a notorious mouth, Golovkin is a master at endearing himself to fans.
Unlike some well-known pugs, for instance, Golovkin is not a braggart. He also appears polite and personable in interviews, where he tries his hardest to master the difficult English language. Perhaps most importantly, however, Golovkin employs the phrase “Mexican style” to describe his brand of fighting. An obvious nod to the “fight with courage” mantra of many Mexican boxers, this quote is clearly now aimed to please a significant fan base, regardless of what its origins may have been based on.
In short, Golovkin simply didn’t stumble upon the growing level of success he’s now enjoying. The question, of course, is will he be able to become a crossover star? Sure, the man looks great in the ring, but will he continue to deliver over the years? He may well if top competition continues to keep from getting in the ring with the guy. For here’s an individual who some are openly hesitant of facing right away. Such a practice is as old as boxing, of course, but it doesn’t make for good public relations in the age of Twitter and twenty-four hour news cycles.
What if Golovkin were to lose, however? Boxing is nothing if not a business that’s full of surprises (though many power players want it to be as surprise free, predictable and one-sided as possible). What if GGG loses next week when he faces Dominic Wade live on HBO? What if he goes on to lose a mega-fight with Canelo Alvarez? Will Nike regret its decision? Probably not. There’s most likely good reason why it promotes its Jordan Brand in numbers these days.
With that in mind, Nike doesn’t make anything public without having faith in its decisions, anyway. And this must be especially true for those decisions involving the Jordan Brand