Gennady Golovkin’s Fight For Legacy
By: Kirk Jackson
The path of Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin 38-0-1, (34 KO’s) is interesting. For years he was perceived by media and fans alike as some mythological boogeyman-esque fighter.
This perception is a testament to his style, commitment towards his craft and enthusiasm towards inflicting pain and despair upon opponents.
The label and distinction awarded to him as one of the most feared fighters is also and perhaps more so a testament to Tom Loeffler and his promotion of the Kazakhstan star.
Photo Credit: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
A great fighter will look outstanding against elite opposition because that great fighter is forced to show his/her character as a fighter when things aren’t easy.
Sugar Ray Leonard displayed greatness against Tommy Hearns because he was pitted against an equally great fighter and endured a situation unique and had never experienced prior.
Leonard had to adjust to the superior boxer; walking through the flames of Hearns’ extensive range and menacing punching power.
Leonard stopped the “Hitman” via technical knock-out, displaying special talent and great tenacity to adjust, strategically change the game plan and seize victory.
Showcasing the ability to overcome adversity isn’t the only metric to measure one’s greatness, as analyzing the manner how a fighter dominates competition can be used as criteria.
The dominance or consistency against elite competition for example is of most importance.
If a great fighter is fed average to below average opposition, the great fighter is going to win and look dominant.
It’s a classic case of big fish in a small pond.
But if that fish relocates to a larger pond, or if a smaller fingerling grows to become a legitimate threat, we have a true fight for survival.
If Golovkin wants to cement his legacy, validation in the form of elite opposition is what Golovkin needs.
Big names or elite level opposition is sorely absent on Triple G’s resume.
Kell Brook was a really good fighter two divisions below Golovkin at welterweight and Daniel Jacobs is a former champion and can very well be champion within the next few months. But Golovkin needs more.
By comparison, another fighter considered pound-for-pound is Mikey Garcia. Garcia has five world titles across four weight classes in seven championship fights.
Golovkin exceeds Garcia with championship bouts (over 21 bouts), but Garcia faced and defeated a higher number of world champion fighters. As of now, Garcia defeated 10 world champions, six by knockout.
Golovkin to this point is 5-0-1 (4 KO’s) against world champions and is six years older than Garcia.
Other pound-for-pound contemporaries Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko defeated six world champions each.
Golovkin’s opponent this Saturday Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is overall is 49-1-2 (34 KO’s) and 12-1-1 (4 KO’s) against world champion fighters.
Referring back to the discussion of dominance against opposition and greatness; the last great middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, was not awarded acknowledgement of his greatness until he dominated undefeated Felix Trinidad. Hopkins at the time was 36-years-old, like Golovkin.
Hopkins followed his quintessential performance with a win over Oscar De La Hoya at middleweight, topped off by moving up to the light heavyweight division, winning multiple world titles, becoming the oldest fighter to hold a world title and fighting the likes of pound-for-pound level opposition like Chad Dawson and Sergey Kovalev.
Golovkin needs Alvarez, because Alvarez has cache. The Mexican superstar brings money to the table along with the prestige Golovkin has long pursued.
Adding that feather to his cap and collecting the large money bag is what Triple G is chasing after all. His path and trajectory to this point states as such.
In the past Golovkin, along with head trainer Able Sanchez mentioned the goal of collecting all middleweight world titles and unifying the division.
12 years into his professional career and eight years as world title holder, Golovkin is yet to unify the middleweight division as desired.
Recent discussions and actions hint middleweight unification is no longer a goal for Team Golovkin.
Assuming Golovkin defeats Alvarez, it doesn’t appear he will face WBC middleweight mandatory Jermall Charlo 27-0 (21 KO’s).
Golovkin appears reluctant to rematch former challenger and potential IBF middleweight title holder Daniel Jacobs 34-2 (29 KO’s), just as he was reluctant to fight his IBF middleweight mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko 12-0 (10 KO’s), when the original proposed rematch with Alvarez fell through earlier this year.
Triple G opted to face inactive Vanes Martirosyan 36-4-1 (21 KO’s), a fighter moving up in weight, coming off a loss more than two years prior to facing Golovkin.
Other options at middleweight for Golovkin include the winner of Billy Joe Saunders 26-0 (12 KO’s) vs. Demetrius Andrade 25-0 (16 KO’s).
Maybe another rematch with Alvarez depending on the result and the funds secured from the event is what Team Golovkin wants.
Who could blame them?
Alvarez is the glamour name of the division, if Golovkin defeats Alvarez, he can retire wealthy and undefeated, ignoring the banter from critics.
For his part, Golovkin believes he already surpassed Hopkins as a middleweight great.
“I feel like a star, like a star because, just if you check Bernard’s opponents probably you understand that my record is much bigger, is much stronger, bigger,” Golovkin said. “This is a good situation for me and for my career and for my fans, of course. That’s it.”
Whether Golovkin follows the route of Hopkins as far as fighting and winning world titles in higher weight divisions remains to be determined.
Aside from the middleweight title defense streak, Golovkin would like to add something additional to his resume. Exact revenge against someone he genuinely dislikes.
Although unfair, if Golovkin loses no matter the circumstances, it may not bode well for him. Even with the suspicion of performance enhancing drug use from his opponent Alvarez.
He still lacks the signature win and signature moment. Unfair it may appear to apply this standard but for a fighter staking claim as one of the best middleweights to ever do it, the criteria may justify the means.
— Gennady Golovkin (@GGGBoxing) September 12, 2018
Golovkin must defeat Alvarez and erase any claim at challengers taking aim at the throne.
How does Golovkin want to be remembered?