What was thought to be a
relatively tough test for WBA middleweight beltholder Gennady Golovkin, this
past Saturday night at the Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Connecticut, was instead a
one-sided demolition. With one devastatingly accurate and well-placed left hook
to Matthew Macklin's right side in the middle of the third round, it was over.
It was a punch that left the normally durable Irishman writhing in pain on the
canvas (and ringsiders wincing notably - this one included). It was a cold
and calculating performance for a fighter who has built as much buzz as any
prizefighter in 2013.
Sergio Martinez is the
rightful middleweight champion; there's no disputing that. But as of this
moment, Golovkin is perhaps the most feared fighter in this division.
“Without question,” said Lou
DiBella, who just happens to promote both Macklin and Martinez.
Macklin was chosen by the
handlers of K2 Promotions and HBO because he would provide some sort of gauge
versus the performances of Felix Sturm (who was fortunate to have gotten the
nod versus “Mack the Knife” a couple of years ago) and Martinez (who was actually
dropped in the middle rounds of their fight last year at the Garden). While
those two had their struggles, Golovkin just systematically dispatched him with
an impressive economy of movement that cut off and cornered the unusually
skittish Macklin and then took him out with his vaunted two-fisted power.
“I felt great,” said
Golovkin, who raised his mark to 27-0 while scoring his 24th knockout. “This was an easy fight for me. Everything I wanted to do, I was able
to do in the ring. [Macklin] never hurt me. I want to fight again as soon as
possible, any top fighter, any beltholder. Anybody. Anywhere. I will fight
them. I am here.”
He certainly is. In fact, he
may have just arrived.
“I think this was a big
statement fight. We wanted to make this a statement year with the five-fight
schedule but a fight like this over Macklin, we knew Macklin was coming in with
a lot of credibility having fought some of the best fighters in the world and
showing that he's one of the best middleweights. For Gennady to stop him like
that early, I think just made a statement,” said Managing Director of K2
Promotions Tom Loeffler.
And that statement to the
rest of the 160-pound class could be: Beware.
And this is the irony of
this sport and business because while this win was eye-opening in many regards,
it may actually dissuade other middleweights and their respective managements
from getting in there with him. But Loeffler says, “I think now with HBO behind
us - they had a great media campaign for this fight - and there was a lot of
hype around this fight and I think Gennady's going to take on a life of his own
in terms of momentum that he has right now. I think this performance proves
he's the best middleweight in the world. That's not taking anything away from
Sergio but with the way [Golovkin] took Macklin apart, I think he's clearly the
best middleweight in the world.”
Speaking of Martinez, his
often-volatile promoter had to amend his immediate post-fight comments (where
he downplayed the possibility of Martinez facing Golovkin in the near future) to
members of the press, issuing an email on Monday afternoon that read in part, “Sergio
Martinez reached out to [adviser] Sampson [Lewkowicz] and me today. He said
that history will show that he has embraced every challenge available to him in
his career. His legacy will be that he was always willing to fight the
best. Right now, his concentration is on healing and rehabilitation and
he will not fight until sometime in the first half of 2014. He wanted to make
it clear that he is willing to fight Gennady Golovkin in the future. Any
conversations now about timing would be premature and inappropriate.”
Martinez is currently nursing
a knee injury and DiBella doesn't expect him to return to action till the
spring of 2014. In a later conversation, DiBella also said he simply would not immediately
put his client in with Golovkin after such a protracted layoff.
Regardless, a gracious
DiBella said at the post-fight presser of “GGG,” “He's a great champion. He's
only going to get better. I think a star was born tonight.” He added, “This is
a man you're going to be hearing about for years to come. I expect one day he
could be very well the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.”
So what's next?
According to Loeffler, “We're
either looking at August, September or November, just depending on HBO's
schedule and the best opponents we can get in the ring.” The game plan for 2013
was for the Golovkin brand to be built and his profile expanded with as much activity
in the ring as possible (for this day and age at least). “We're on track for
five times this year,” reiterated Loeffler.
Word is HBO is now strongly
considering televising the last two Golovkin appearances of 2013. While it's
premature to call him a marquee attraction just yet (because up to this point,
he's been showcased in Indian casinos and the Theater at Madison Square Garden),
he has been building at least a television following in the States. His initial
outing on HBO back in September against Grzegorz Proksa had an audience of
685,000; his January bout versus Gabriel Rosado was watched by 813,000 viewers
and the bout with Macklin was watched by 1.1 million (source: Nielsen Media
But before we crown him
Dennis Green-style, there is this simple fact: for all this excitement Golovkin
has created, Macklin was really the first top 10 middleweight he has defeated.
And till he starts headlining at the big room of Madison Square Garden, drawing
10,000 fans and being a part of major pay-per-view cards, that's when he will truly be considered a star. Perhaps
there is a chance that we are all getting ahead of ourselves. You just never
know how these things will pan out but you certainly want to see where the “Good
Boy” is headed. He is an individual who has created a certain intrigue in the
sport and you look forward to watching whomever he faces and whenever he does
And isn't that a good thing
If you look at the fighters
who are at the championship/12-round level over the past year or so, Golovkin (who
has performed five times since May of 2012) has been as active as any fighter,
alongside the likes of Leo Santa Cruz (who fought five times in 2012), Nonito
Donaire (who went out there four times in 2012 en route to winning “Fighter of
the Year” honors) and now Sergey Kovalev (who has boxed four times since last
June of 2012).
If you look at the career
arcs of these boxers, it's clear; good things have happened as they have
consistently got in there and performed and didn't just sit on the sidelines
for long stretches.
This is no coincidence.
At the post-fight press
conference after suffering a dubious draw versus Thomas Oosthuizen, Brandon
Gonzales noted his disappointment that not a single representative of Goossen Tutor
(who promotes him) didn't bother to show up to this fight at the Foxwoods.
I don't think there's any
question that this is a residual effect of the conflict between the promotional
firm and recognized super middleweight champ Andre Ward. On Friday, it was
announced that the California commission ruled in favor of Goossen Tutor,
upholding its contract with Ward, who was looking to break free from them. Like
Ward, Gonzales is managed by James Prince and trained by Virgil Hunter. Sources
say that when Prince went to go check into his hotel room for the weekend,
there was none awaiting him.
Yeah, this isn't over.
There's a very good chance
that Ward will now take this to court, perhaps stating violations of the
Muhammad Ali Act.
But the larger pressing
question is: Now that Dan Goossen handed Ward his first professional “loss,”
where does the latter rank in those all-important pound-for-pound rankings?
OK, I'll be honest; I found
the latest edition of “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley” to have been a letdown.
I thought it spent way too much time on various lists when there are other
issues (serious and not-so-serious) that could've been discussed. And I found
it a bit head-scratching that Max Kellerman was trying to sell us on the public
appeal of Guillermo Rigondeaux. According to Kellerman, the April 13th bout between the Cuban southpaw and Nonito Donaire was apparently a match-up
between the third and best fighter in the sport (uhhh…now if this doesn't show
you how irrelevant pound-for-pound rankings are, nothing will).
(By the way, Kellerman's
reasoning for ranking the “Filipino Flash” so high still was that he won a
bunch of belts throughout his career. But isn't Max the one always saying how “meaningless”
they are? Bottom line, while Donaire would still probably be favored in a fight
versus Abner Mares - and have more physical talent - has Donaire ever had a run
in any given division like Mares did at 118?)
“The Fight Game” can and
should be an important show for the business of boxing (and personally, I'm
rooting for this to work and one day be a monthly program) but it cannot get
bogged down in the superfluous. It has to be very careful to not be perceived
as having a network agenda. While Lampley's final statements on the
below-the-belt promotion between Adrien Broner, Paulie Malignaggi and “Jessica
Sidepiece” were valid and hard to disagree with, it has to be pointed out that
HBO helped create this monster (“Broner-stein”?) They showcased him in a short
amount of time more often than any other fighter in their history and even made
a point to give him exposure when he wasn't fighting (such as his rather
unfortunate attempt at dropping rhymes during the Robert Guerrero-Andre Berto
card in Ontario, California).
I thought this program was
making consistent strides from its initial airing. Unfortunately, I think it
took a step backwards this past weekend.
Here's the latest
installment of “The Next Round” (with special guest, Larry Merchant, who stayed
on for a half-hour and answered questions from Twitter):
A press conference has
officially announced that heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko will face
Alexander Povetkin on October 5th in Moscow. There is a good chance
that HBO will be televising this...The average rating for the “Boxing After
Dark” show this past weekend was 912,000...Jonathan “La Bomba” Gonzalez will
face Giovani Segura on August 17th in Puerto Rico...Interesting trade
by the Clippers; right?...Is Dwight Howard the type of guy who can take a team
all the way to a Larry O'Brien Trophy as the best player? I keep asking myself
that question...I had no disagreements with Adrian Peterson as the top player
in the NFL Network Top 100 players (voted on solely by the players)...And yes, that was me (on the HBO replay
from press row) reacting as if I got hit by Golovkin's left hook. Seriously, I
felt bad for Macklin. Hey, Merchant's famous photobomb moment was the iconic
shot of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston in their rematch.
Well, I guess this was my “Merchant Moment”...