by Tyson Bruce
This weekend, boxing’s fastest rising star, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, 30-0-0-(27 KO’s), makes his West Coast debut against veteran power puncher Marco Antonio Rubio. With Golovkin unable to secure a big name dance partner, the decision to fight on the West Coast is an obvious strategic move to expand his profile and create the demand for a shot against lineal champion Miguel Cotto or Mexican star Canelo Alvarez.
Considering that Golovkin made his American debut just two short years ago, it’s remarkable the reputation he’s been able to attain. In just twenty-four months he has become one of the most feared and avoided fighters in all of boxing. However, the inability of his team to secure a major fight for Golovkin is beginning to wear out the patience of a vocal minority of boxing fans and media. Negative terms like “bum Killer” and “protected” have become commonplace on Twitter and other social media.
When you sit down and weigh the facts objectively, however, the criticism becomes ridiculous. Top fighters with established fan bases like Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto could avoid a fighter like Golovkin because they can make millions by fighting virtually anyone. Generations ago, when being a champion still meant something, avoiding your number one challenger would have been derided as cowardice. In today’s boxing climate, however, it’s all too often defended or at least justified as merely being smart business.
The truth is that Golovkin is fighting the best fighters that he can fight under the circumstances. Say what you will about his opposition, but Proksa, Geale, Macklin, and Stevens were all top ranked middleweights at the time Golovkin boxed them. It’s not Golovkin’s fault that he makes them look so mediocre; he’s beating the best fighters in the division that are willing to fight him. The fight against Rubio (who is ranked tenth according to Transnational Boxing Rankings Board) also fits this profile.
Marco Antonio Rubio, 59-6-1-(51 KO’s), is no stranger to upsetting the apple cart. In 2011, he stunned the highly touted and massive punching Canadian prospect David Lemieux by rallying from an early pounding to score a punishing seventh round stoppage. Rubio’s long career, however, has been plagued with many up’s and downs. In 2009, Rubio got the opportunity of a lifetime against lineal middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, only to freeze up on the big stage—losing by ninth round stoppage in what could be labeled as a “non-effort”. Rubio was also cold-cocked in the first round of his HBO debut in 2004 against Kofi Jantuah.
Since losing a very close decision to Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. in 2012, Rubio has managed to go 6-0 with 5 KO’s to earn himself another crack at the big time. At thirty-four years of age and with nearly seventy pro fights under his belt, this may be the last time Rubio gets a crack at a title belt, so you can bet he will try and make a more gallant last stand. A big puncher with nothing to lose is a dangerous combination—even against someone with the talent of Golovkin, despite an accomplished career and tenth ranking,
Rubio was likely selected as the opponent because he’s a Mexican national and it will help sell tickets in the largely Hispanic region of Carson, California. Despite being from Kazakhstan, Golovkin has a sizable fan base amongst the Mexican and Mexican-American boxing community. They respect his killer instinct and vicious body punching skills. Against Rubio, it will be a chance for Golovkin to prove himself against one of Mexico’s own. If he wins in his usual devastating fashion, it will be a chance to tap into one of boxing’s largest ethnic markets.
Although Rubio is far from the most interesting opponent out there for Golovkin, this fight is an appealing style match-up between two offense-minded punchers. Plus, Golovkin is probably the most exciting and talented fighter you can still watch without being gouged 60 dollars for the viewing experience.
Unlike some other noted prize fighters, “GGG” is isn’t wasting his time on the sidelines waiting for a big fight to fall in his lap. Golovkin is fighting a regular schedule and attempting to establish his brand and credentials for a big fight by earning it in the ring, which is the most anyone can really ask of a fighter.