By Ivan G. Goldman
Now that he’s swatted Marco Antonio Rubio like a gnat, where are the big fights for Gennady Golovkin?
Kid Chocolate ran away to Showtime, Miguel Cotto wants Canelo Alvarez, Sergio Martinez is old and crippled by a wide range of injuries, and newly crowned IBF “champion” Jermain Taylor has only about 80 percent of his skills left intact. Beasides, at this point Taylor is only one step ahead of an Arkansas prosecutor.
Under such circumstances the usual thing for an ambitious fighter like Triple G to do is stay busy with second-raters until something better opens up. But Golovkin, 31-0 (28 KOs), is already 32, older than he seems. That’s because to American fans he’s a relatively new entity, having broken out of the European circuit only two years ago.
Often when fighters say no one will fight them, it’s untrue. But GGG really does look like a man in a hurry, someone who’d meet you more than halfway if he thinks you might consider a serious deal. The clock is ticking and his team knows it.
Still, he’s got plenty going for him. Most of it falls under the headings of talent and excitement. One without the other is only half a loaf. This is a particularly conspicuous reality now in the closing days of the Floyd Mayweather Age. It was seven long years ago when Floyd took the spotlight by dethroning Oscar De La Hoya by split decision.
During those seven years that followed, he scored only one legitimate kayo in nine fights. You can call it two kayos only if you count the sucker ending he delivered to Victor Ortiz while he and referee Joe Cortez were foolishly looking elsewhere.
Meanwhile, since that Cinco de Mayo fight seven years ago, Golovkin fought 24 times and scored 21 kayos. Yes, Mayweather was fighting tougher guys, but it’s a fact that his fights are heavy on tactics and light on the sustained violence fans want to see. When reminded of this, his hard-core defenders generally respond by calling detractors ignorant. “You don’t know s— about boxing,” is the most typical answer. They seem to think that sustained aggression is unseemly or something and that prizefighting really is chess, only with longer pauses between moves.
The fact is, boxing is nothing like chess. In chess, you take turns. In boxing, a fighter can take ten or twenty consecutive turns. Great fighters don’t step away when they score a good shot. They score more good shots.
As the heavyweights have lost their traditional appeal in the U.S., perhaps too much attention has been showered on welterweights. That’s a situation that seems to be changing. The Nov. 11 light heavyweight title unification bout between Sergey Kovalev and Bernard Hopkins will definitely create plenty of buzz too, especially since it will be available to all HBO subscribers for no added cost.
Meanwhile, an action fighter like Triple G isn’t just a breath of fresh air to action-starved fans. He’s a welcome hurricane. He can’t do what he does best if everyone scatters before he can sign them as opponents, but they won’t be as quick to scamper if his popularity grows and their potential purses get fatter. Selling out the StubHub Center Saturday night was an excellent sign. No one has done that before.
Those “experts” who say Golovkin must now aim for super middleweight champ Andre Ward are out of bounds. If a fighter can comfortably make weight in his own division he shouldn’t have to compete against bigger opponents. That’s crazy.
One of the better aspects of the Golovkin story – one that adds drama and suspense — is that he has weaknesses. We can’t be completely sure he’ll blast right through his division. He doesn’t move his head a lot, and that could cost him against an experienced champion like Cotto. Cotto has never ducked a legitimate challenge, especially if the challenge is accompanied by lots of dollars.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More information here.