Reports Of Gennady Golovkin’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
By: Hans Themistode
He isn’t a champion anymore.
He lost a few steps.
Retirement is just around the corner.
The words that are spoken about former unified Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) are not kind.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan -Hoganphotos/ GGG Promotions
Since losing his titles to Canelo Alvarez last year on September 15th, at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas Nevada, Golovkin has fielded questions regarded his status in the world of boxing. At the age 37, he isn’t towards the beginning of his career anymore. Nor is he as dominant as he once was. Or is he?
If you are listening to everyone else regarding his career then they would lead you to believe that he is in fact near the end of his rope.
His dominance isn’t quite what it used to be. These words however, lack any true merit.
Following his first and lone defeat, Golovkin returned to the ring this past June where he easily dispatched of Steve Rolls in the fourth round.
It looked easy from the outside looking in, but observers believe that they saw slippage. Rolls, who was an absolute obscure opponent, had a surprisingly decent second round. One that saw him land a few big shots which snapped back the head of Golovkin. In vintage form, he simply shook the blows, came forward forward and finished the match in the fourth round.
It is always difficult to determine whether a fighter is at the end of his rope. Age 37 is an advanced one no matter what sport is being played. The question is however, has Golovkin showed any true age as of late? The answer is an emphatic no.
Just take a look at the track record of Golovkin. The overwhelming thought process is that he defeated Canelo Alvarez in their first contest. Although the second was a much more difficult contest, Golovkin did more than enough to win that one as well. Before those contest Golovkin won a unanimous decision over former two time champion Daniel Jacobs.
If we take it step further, Golovkin looked fantastic in his 2015 knockout victory against David Lemiuex. In short, Golovkin still experiences plenty of success even at an age where he shouldn’t.
So what does he face this upcoming Saturday? He’ll be taking on former Middleweight title challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 KOs). The aforementioned Derevyanchenko may have just 14 fights under his belt but he is an accomplished boxer. In the amateurs he won nearly 400 fights against a hand full of defeats. His lone defeat at the hands of Jacobs was a close one. To sum it up, Golovkin is in for a real fight.
Golovkin is still viewed as the favorite but the thought of him losing isn’t a farfetched one.
“He’s a real fighter,” said Golovkin. “A very good opponent. I have to be ready for a real fight Saturday.”
For all of his accolades, Golovkin isn’t overlooking his opponent. For years he has been a world champion. At the moment, he shares the Middleweight record with Bernard Hopkins for the most Middleweight title defenses with 20.
It seems almost unbelievable that Golovkin still has something to prove at this stage in his career, but he does. Not only is he looking to prove that he still belongs amongst the elite in the division but he also has the opportunity to call himself a champion once again as this contest will have the IBF title at stake.
This contest won’t be an easy one, but Golovkin wouldn’t want it to be. He’ll be looking to make a statement to everyone that he still has plenty left in the tank.
Reports of Joshua’s End Are an Exaggeration
By: Kevin Dyson
It is almost three weeks since Andy Ruiz Jr stopped Anthony Joshua, taking shock ownership of the belts that AJ had loaned him for photos pre fight.
That seemingly relaxed approach from the Englishman has since been translated into a form of complacency by many. Meanwhile, both Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury have heaped on the equivalent of body shots should they face him in the future by deriding him as a quitter.
There have also been plenty of scribes willing to suggest why they are correct and others who find the thought either misleading or straight up wrong.
I am an unashamed AJ fan. I enjoy the way he fights and how he presents himself. Both he and Tyson Fury are obviously smart, witty guys. However, Fury flits back and forth between infuriating bravado and humourous self deprecation, where AJ is articulate and more humble than 99% of the guys out there. In a way I am glad he was beaten by Ruiz, another sound and humble guy.
Rather than list how AJ will or won’t win a rematch, I will just point out what I am looking at in the coming months.
AJ has admitted himself that he has problems with smaller fighters. The unheralded Carlos Takam took him far further than anyone expected, while Aleksander Povetkin had the upper hand early on.
While Povetkin was making a strong start, AJ was able to change his plan and had began to dominate by the time the KO arrived. I do believe the he would have enough nous to work out Ruiz. The equilibrium scrambling effect of the shots landed by Ruiz in round three put pay to that, in my opinion.
Before the fight AJ had been talking about legacy and not simply just winning. We got the sense that the educated performance of nullifying Joseph Parker would not be enough. Let’s go back to that third round. Whether it was his plan, mindset, complacency or inexperience, he opened himself up and paid the price.
It is something that has played out before, but without the same consequence. Against Dillian Whyte he got into an adrenaline fuelled scrap in the second round, shaking his opponent up with a hefty barrage.
The next round saw the energy drain right out of him. Fast forward to Klitschko. Down in the fifth, the legendary Ukrainian turned the tables on a, once again, seemingly drained Brit. Joshua hit the canvas in the next round but managed to survive until he managed a second wind and that astonishing eleventh round finale.
His stablemate David Price has urged AJ to play it more canny in a rematch.
“He’s going to have to be completely switched on for the 12 rounds and not exchange at all, especially mid-range where Ruiz is at his best, at his quickest,” Price said.
“He’s got to keep it long and literally jab his way through a points victory.”
Fairly obvious advice. Of course, Joshua would hope to avoid the same fate as Price. The big Liverpudlian was also an Olympic medallist, and was being touted for world glory when his came up against veteran American Tony Thompson.
A shock defeat, caused by another one of those brain mashing shots around the ear, still left fans confident in a rematch victory.
If anything this was worse, and had echoes of AJ’s apparent Achilles heel. What looked like Price getting back on track with an early knockdown turned into a nightmare as the big man appeared to punch himself out.
One man who did get back on track was Wladimir Klitschko. After 14 straight wins following his first defeat to Ross Purrity, Wlad’s dodgy chin was exposed by Corrie Sanders in 2003. Having lost the WBO belt, he got Emanuel Steward onboard, but a further defeat to Lamon Brewster for the same title (and like AJ losing after scoring a knockdown) showed how much work the Kronk Gym legend had to do.
We all know how Klitschko was turned into a frustrating defensive monster who, despite having one of the most devastating punches in boxing, became a symbol of the dullness of heavyweight boxing through that eleven year winning stretch.
There is no doubt in my mind that Joshua needs a similar rebirth, just not so extreme. It may even simply be a honing of the style he dominated Parker with. He has some phenomenal assets, so it is important that he maximises them while ironing out the weaknesses like his stamina the ease with which opponents can expose his body and chin.
There is truth to Tyson Fury’s barbs about his physique. We all know the aerobic impact of muscle, so there is surely a balance to met that would allow AJ to increase endurance.
If we are specifically talking about the Ruiz rematch, there certainly needs to be a lot more work to deal with the new champ’s speed and skill. While it may have been at six week’s notice, AJ had been focused on combatting Jarell Miller, a fighter who was a very different beast. Good and relevant sparring in the rematch is a must.
I don’t think there is hyperbole in saying Joshua could retire after another loss. His entire career has been fast tracked to the top ever since getting that 2012 Olympic Gold. I can’t see him continuing as an also ran. I would put him in the similar category (although, nowhere near the talent) as Lomachenko. Hell, Loma has only fought a single pro bout that was not a world title shot or defence. He will have belts or he will out of the sport.
I am sure there are probably more views contrary to my view on AJ. Just remember, the heavyweights are the most unpredictable out there. It only takes one punch…….
Khan’s Slow Demise: Can’t Turn a Ferrari into an Audi
By: Rahat Haque
There was thick tension in the air. Fans and media had really hyped this fight. Everyone has heard of the phrase “styles make fights”. Khan’s fast hands and feet were supposed to at least irk Crawford, if not more. After the two national anthems were sung, after the fighters were introduced, and after the first bell, all of our curiosities regarding this fight would finally be answered. All of us were at the edge of our seats, in the ring, or at our homes, anticipating what was about to take place. Right from the first exchange, we got our answers.
This version of Amir Khan was nothing like the former speedy gunslinger we once knew. This is not taking anything away from Crawford. Indeed, the way Terence stays in the eye of the storm, totally panic free, to deliver his well-measured shots, is a beauty to behold. We have not seen such a confident, well-poised, skilled boxer puncher in some time. But that was not the revelation of the fight that took place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. It was how much Khan had slowed down.
Right from the first round, it was quite apparent that Khan’s hand speed had gone down. All his lunges seemed premeditated, and if we could feel it through the screen, Terence “Bud” Crawford would have surely observed it being in the ring. When Khan came forward with his flurry of punches, his head was more stationary than it usually is. Yes, he had always fought like this, but his style never came off as robotic as it did on Saturday night. He was successful in touching Crawford, before suffering the inevitable knockdown that was on the horizon given how predictable and rigid all his movements were. Crawford rightly capitalized on it. This continued for 5 more rounds. Khan did seem to connect more than Crawford on round 2, and I gave him that round. But there was absolutely no fear in Terence, Khan’s punches touched him, but had no real effect on him. This could be attributed to Terence’s great defense, a la moving with the punches to soften the blows. On the other hand, whenever Terence touched Amir, the latter seemed to take the full brunt of the shots. Crawford peppered Khan’s face in the early round with thudding blows, and did the same to his body in the 4th and 5th round, reducing the Bolton native’s mobility.
The ending was bizarre, and no one saw it coming. A TKO as a result of a low blow. Khan had the option to take 5 minutes, which he did not. He shaked his head repeatedly as Virgil asked him if he wanted to continue in more than one occasion. So then, it can be said that Khan and his camp knew he was outclassed in those 6 rounds, despite perhaps winning one or two rounds. It was still strange however, to not see him go all out fighting. We have to take his word that the low blow really incapacitated him, and that 5 minutes would not be enough to recover.
But what did we learn from the 6 rounds of action? We learned more about Khan than we learned about Crawford. The Nebraska man did what he was expected to. But most fans did not expect it to be as easy as it was for him. This comes down to the changes in Khan, and cannot be attributed simply to the sheer brilliance of Crawford. Khan’s last two fights were not against noteworthy opponents. His fight with Canelo was mismatch in weight. His last win against a credible opponent was against Devon Alexander. Some may say Chris Algieri. But judging by what everyone saw in his half a bout with Crawford, would this Khan be able to replicate his successes against the likes of Alexander, Maidana, Judah, Kotelnik? These are the questions that come to mind after witnessing such a lackluster performance. More importantly, can this Khan even avenge the loss versus a Danny Garcia, a fight most of his fans were sure of him winning if he had a second chance? It does not look good for Khan at all at the moment.
Perhaps part of the problem was changing trainers. Khan was at his most lethal with Freddy Roach. Indeed, one cannot conjure up another name besides Manny Pacquiao who found as much success with that fast combination punching as Khan did under the tutelage of Freddy. Making adjustments in fights is necessary to assess the situation. But is it possible to change a whole fight’s modus operandi midway in his career? Khan was never known for his defense, or for his inside fighting, or for even being slick really. But by pressing the action, going in and out with his quick feet, and using his fast hands to land a combination on his opponent when in range, is something he did really well. He was able to look marvellous doing it with Peterson, which is the quintessential Khan fight. He would absorb punishment on the inside when the fight was fought at close quarters, but it was nothing like the terrible punishment of a head thudding knee buckling shot that he would take when being countered in the middle of the ring. The latter has been more reflective of his performances these days.
The whole waiting and timing and countering style of play does not suit him. He will always get outclassed even by lesser names, if he tries to do that. Yet, Virgil seems hell bent in trying to convert him to just that type of a fighter. I understand and respect strategizing to your opponent’s strengths, but there is a point of diminishing returns where not only do you not learn your new skills, but you begin to forget your old skills. This is precisely what happened to Khan. He was never a timer of punches, nor was he ever known for any ring generalship or defense, whereby he could hang with a slick boxer puncher in the middle of the ring. What he could do however, was use his dynamic punching to dazzle his opponents before pulling out. But on Saturday night, he could do neither! And that left him terribly exposed against one of the best finishers in the game in Terence Crawford. It could also be that his motor is not what it used to be given his age. Full credit to Terence for picking up this risky fight. But because of the way he humiliated Khan in there, there will be much less buzz about Khan in his next fight. If people were not sure before, the former Olympic silver medalist is now surely entering the twilight of his career. His best is past him.