By Sean Crose
Those who argue that Britain’s Martin Murray isn’t a “real” opponent for middleweight terror Gennady “GGG” Golovkin are sadly mistaken.
This isn’t to say Murray can beat Golovkin. . .though it isn’t to say Murray can’t beat Golovkin, either. The point is that Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs) is about as legitimate an opponent that can be found this side of the great pay-per-view divide.
Truth be told, Murray is a rather under-rated pug. Think about it – the man went to Germany to fight the excellent Felix Sturm in a bout many believed Murray should have won (he was given a draw). He then went to Argentina – Britain’s old military foe! – to fight national superstar Sergio Martinez in his backyard. There were those who felt Murray was robbed in that fight, too.
The fact of the matter is that Murray has stared down some very impressive competition – and has never lost decisively. Can Andy Lee say that? Can Peter Quillin say that? The answer to each question is “no.” And some have questioned the caliber of “GGG”‘s competition to this point as well.
Of course none of this takes away from the fact that Golovkin, with his perfect 31-0 (28 KOs) record, isn’t a serious – a very serious – force to be reckoned with. The native of Kazakhstan has knocked out all but three of his opponents, after all. What’s more, he’s a skilled boxer as well as a destructive puncher.
Indeed, Golovkin may be the very best in the world at cutting off the ring on an opponent. Aside from the legendary Manny Pacquiao, only rising Russian star Sergey Kovalev seems to be more impervious to slick, technical boxing than Golovkin is. Slip and slide all you want, Golovkin seems to have a way of catching and destroying you.
This doesn’t bode well for Murray, of course. The man isn’t known as being much of a hitter. It’s good to keep in mind, however, that Murray isn’t one to avoid a fight, either. His success comes not from his power, but from his ability to throw off an opponent’s timing.
And that’s what could be the key for a successful outing against Golovkin.
Watching Murray’s 2011 throwdown with Sturm, I was taken aback by how well the Englishman was able to keep Sturm off his game. Sure, Murray avoided Sturm a lot, but he mixed it up with the German a lot, too. By throwing off Sturm’s timing, by throwing punches in bunches while outworking his foe, Murray was able to look masterful at times.
Of course that bout ended with Murray close to being on his back. Yup, Sturm was finally able to really catch his antagonist at the end. Suffice to say, Murray may well have been saved by the final bell. Murray likely won’t likely be saved by anything if Golovkin catches him like Sturm did, as Golovkin hits harder than Sturm–a whole lot harder.
So yes, Murray has his work cut out for him this weekend in Monte Carlo. Is the Golovkin match too high a mountain for the talented Englishman to climb? Perhaps it is. To give Murray no chance whatsoever on Saturday is ridiculous, however. In a fight game filled with easy matches for big stars, GGG has given himself a real challenge.
If Murray can somehow fight Golovkin the way he fought Sturm for the vast majority of their match, only five percent better, he may indeed shock the world. That’s a tall order, sure, but this is a big time match, and a fighter’s job is to rise to the occasion.
To many fans, Saturday’s bout in Monte Carlo is a already foregone conclusion. Perhaps it is. I tend not to think so, however.
Golovkin seems determined to challenge himself, and this time he may succeed in that mission.