Gennady Golovkin: The five most important fights of GGG's career
Gennady Golovkin: The five most important fights of GGG’s career
With Gennady Gennadyveich Golovkin set to face off against Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 16, the question has to be asked: How did he get here?
Golovkin is an otherworldly fighter, but unlike those who share that status, “GGG’s” rise to boxing prominence seemingly came from nowhere. In general, fans don’t hear about international fighters until they make noise and body opponents in the states, while blue-chip prospects and Olympians often have their careers followed and scrutinized from the opening bell of their first professional fight.
Golovkin, a native of Kazakhstan, didn’t fight in front of an American audience until his 27th professional bout, when he took on Grzegorz Proksa in Verona, N.Y. GGG stopped Proksa in the fifth round.
Since then, a similar trend has emerged in Golovkin’s fights: He has been pounding opponents into standing piles of ground beef.
Golovkin’s superfight vs. Alvarez will move to the top of the accompanying list, win or lose, but until that bout takes place, here are the five fights that have made Golovkin the star Alvarez is set to face.
Golovkin vs. Stevens
Date: Nov. 2, 2013
Opponent record: 25-3-0
Result: Stevens retired in the eighth round
While it wasn’t Golovkin’s first time fighting in front of an American crowd, it was certainly his coming-out party.
Noted power puncher Curtis Stevens looked like he was hit by a hand grenade when he was sent to the canvas in the second round. It was the first of many GGG left hooks the boxing world would grow accustomed to seeing.
Not only did Golovkin feature his signature hook, but this fight was a good snapshot of Golovkin’s staples: an offense that takes off behind a solid jab, a cinderblock chin, a consistent and dangerous body attack and an uncanny ability to cut off the ring and stalk his opponents.
Oh, and Golovkin also landed 185 of 381 power shots (49 percent) in the fight. That’s boxing absurdity, but it’s just another day at the office for GGG.
Golovkin vs. Lemieux
Date: Oct. 17, 2015
Opponent record: 34-2-0 (31 KOs)
Result: Golovkin by eighth-round TKO
There may not be anything better in boxing than watching a couple of knockout artists go at it.
Entering this fight, David Lemieux was heralded for two things: his punching power, and for being the aggressor in his fights. In this fight, fans were shown a few things they were not accustomed to seeing: GGG the pro boxer (despite his extensive amateur career) and Lemieux being visibly shaken by an opponent.
Golovkin dominated the early part of the fight as Lemieux walked backward, a rare sight. Lemieux’s corner told him between the early rounds to stay on the defensive and not move in against Golovkin.
That didn’t work.
It wasn’t until Round 4 that GGG really started to go to work. He landed a massive left hook, and it was all downhill for Lemieux from there.
While Lemieux landed a stiff right cross in Round 5, Golovkin sent Lemieux to the mat with about 15 seconds remaining in the round. Lemieux punched wildly from then on — and landed some bombs — but that didn’t stop Golovkin from moving forward.
HBO’s Max Kellerman said it best: This fight was the door to superstardom for Golovkin. Being able to take the best shots from a power guy like Lemieux square on the chin and still keep moving forward? That’s some serious, serious stuff.
Golovkin vs. Brook
Date: Sept. 10, 2016
Opponent record: 36-0-0
Result: Golovkin by fifth-round TKO
Kell Brook is a brave, brave dude. The natural welterweight stepped up two weight classes to take this fight, and he put on a show.
Realizing Golovkin’s pure punching power, Brook went toe-to-toe with GGG for four rounds, seemingly unafraid, much to the delight of the crowd.
In his postfight interview with HBO, Golovkin said — maybe to give Brook more credit — that if the fight were to continue a few more rounds, Brook would have finished him.
Brook took the fight to Golovkin and seemed to rattle with some heavy shots. That continued until Brook’s corner threw in the towel in the fifth round.
Why is this fight important? Given the fact the judges had Brook either tied with or ahead of Golovkin by a round through four, GGG is probably glad he has unrivaled power to stop fights.
Golovkin broke Brook’s right orbital socket in the second round, and yet Brook continued for two more rounds. Gutsy, indeed, but it takes more than guts to step to Golovkin.
Golovkin vs. Monroe
Date: May 16, 2015
Opponent record: 19-1-0
Result: Golovkin by sixth-round TKO
When Golovkin dropped Willie Monroe Jr. twice in the second round, it looked as though the end was in sight, but Monroe boxed his way through the next four rounds before the fight was stopped in the sixth.
The stoppage was Golovkin’s 20th knockout in a row.
Was this fight a big deal? Not particularly. Monroe didn’t stand much of a chance: In his postfight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, Golovkin said he let Monroe stick around to give the people a better show.
Golovkin is a quiet and humble guy; maybe he was trying to play nice, maybe not. Regardless, Monroe showed that an opponent with speed and boxing ability can throw Golovkin off his game.
This would become apparent again in Golovkin’s next fight.
Golovkin vs. Jacobs
Date: March 18, 2017
Opponent record: 32-1-0 (29 KOs)
Result: Golovkin by unanimous decision
Golovkin was forced to go 12 rounds for the first time in his pro career when he faced Daniel Jacobs at Madison Square Garden.
Jacobs came in about 10 to 15 pounds heavier than Golovkin, but he wasn’t looking for a knockout. Instead, Jacobs stuck and moved the entire fight, and it worked out for him. … kind of.
Jacobs’ corner insisted that he stay patient and not to engage unnecessarily. The strategy proved effective; Jacobs boxed Golovkin for all 12 rounds and avoided big power shots and counter punches.
It was a small victory that Jacobs didn’t get knocked out and that the fight went to the scorecards. The decision was really, really close, too.
Two judges scored the bout 115-112 and the other had it 114-113, proving that trying to box Golovkin isn’t the worst idea.
Taking a left hook from him is, however.
Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez fight: Time, date, card, complete guide, PPV
The next boxing super fight is here. Over two years after Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao put fight fans to sleep with their snooze fest of a bout nearly five years in the making, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez are set to duke it out in Las Vegas on Saturday. Described by most boxing experts as the best fight imaginable on paper, Golovking and Alvarez figure to go in to their bout swinging for the fences as two of the best power punchers in the sport.
We here at CBS Sports are a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the event, which will take place Saturday live on HBO PPV.
Hit the links below to check out our full slate of Golovkin-Canelo coverage, including a tale of the tape for the two fighters and how you can watch it live Saturday, Sept 16. We will be here the entire way with full live coverage on fight night.
Golovkin-Canelo fight information
News:| overshadow him | GGG joins “ ” podcast
This page will be constantly updated throughout the week.
Why GGG-Canelo has the makings of an instant classic
LAS VEGAS – It’s not fair to compare Saturday’s middleweight title bout between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena to the 1985 classic between Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns because, well, nothing compares to Hagler-Hearns.
Hagler-Hearns just may have been the greatest fight ever contested, considering the stakes, the skill level of the athletes and the ferocity with which they tore into each other.
But no middleweight championship fight since Hagler-Hearns has had the same potential for raw violence and breathtaking moments as Golovkin-Alvarez.
Oh, the 1987 match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Hagler captured the world’s attention in a more significant way than Golovkin-Alvarez – boxing held a far stronger position in the sporting universe then than it does now – but the most overwhelming view going into Hagler-Leonard was a fear for poor old Sugar Ray’s safety.
Golovkin-Alvarez, though, is as close to a 50-50 fight as one can get. They have a combined 86-1-1 record, with 67 knockouts in those 88 fights. Alvarez had a draw in his fifth pro fight, a month after he turned 16 in 2006, and then was defeated by Floyd Mayweather in 2013 in a bout that sold more than two million pay-per-views.
This is the rare bout that has received support from the boxing community at large. Boxing is notorious for promoters knocking other promoters’ shows. It’s not at all uncommon for one promoter to try to sabotage another promoter’s major event.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who has done it all and had it all done to him in more than a half-century of promoting, took Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya’s side when De La Hoya was railing against the Aug. 26 bout between Mayweather and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
“I can understand why Oscar is upset, of course,” said Arum, who has had many bitter battles with De La Hoya over the last quarter-century. “Oscar’s got a great fight – this match with GGG and Canelo is going to be some fight – and all of you guys [in the media] were talking about the other nonsense [the fight between Mayweather and McGregor].”
Media, though, has been so excited about the fight that it’s become cliché at this point to call GGG-Alvarez “the best fight in boxing.”
Here’s hoping it delivers, though.
There was first talk about Golovkin and Alvarez fighting in 2014, but it really picked up steam in late 2015 after Alvarez defeated Miguel Cotto to win the linear middleweight belt.
De La Hoya, though, chose not to make the bout, pitting Alvarez against lesser lights like Amir Khan, Liam Smith and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. rather than going into the big fight at the first clear opportunity.
He took the approach that Arum once erroneously advocated in early 2010. On a card at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 23, 2010, Juan Manuel Lopez knocked out Steven Luevano in seven rounds and Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa blew out Rogers Mtagwa in two.
There was great interest among boxing fans in seeing Lopez fight Gamboa next, given their styles and the promise of a Fight of the Year slugfest. Arum, in speaking to reporters after the card, introduced a word into the boxing lexicon that shouldn’t be there. He wouldn’t, he said, make the Lopez-Gamboa fight right away. Instead, he’d let it “marinate.”
Of course, both fighters lost soon thereafter and were never the same, and what had the potential to be a great bout never happened.
De La Hoya clearly chose to allow Golovkin-Alvarez to marinate. If they’d fought in 2016, they might be on the verge of a mega-millions rematch by now, but that’s not the road De La Hoya chose.
And it annoyed Golovkin to no end. Often, a fighter will without justification accuse a potential opponent of ducking him. Golovkin, though, exonerated Alvarez and accused De La Hoya of being the one to orchestrate the ducking.
“This wasn’t like Canelo not being ready,” Golovkin said. “It was Golden Boy not being ready. We have been talking about this fight for three years. Finally, Canelo and Golden Boy are ready for this fight. [It is the] first step to history. Everyone will remember this fight. It is the biggest fight of all.”
If it’s a great fight, even a poor man’s version of Hagler-Hearns, all will be forgiven and no one again will mention De La Hoya’s choice to let the bout marinate.
But if, as some suggest, Golovkin’s performance in his last fight against Daniel Jacobs is the beginning of some sort of decline at age 35, then the boxing world will forever rue what might have been.
Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s outspoken trainer, flatly accused De La Hoya of avoiding Golovkin. Sanchez insists that Golovkin took his foot off the gas against Jacobs, so to speak, to entice De La Hoya to the negotiating table.
That seems highly unlikely, but the truth is, talks to make Golovkin-Alvarez picked up intensity in the timeframe between Golovkin’s March 18 victory over Jacobs and Alvarez’s May 6 win over Chavez.
“I have trained a lot of fighters – a lot,” said Sanchez, whose most notable boxer prior to training Golovkin was Hall of Famer Terry Norris. “But I have never worked with one who was avoided more than Gennady. The special fighters accept challenges or dare to step up and make the challenge. It’s the measure of the man. It is the difference between good and great. [Muhammad] Ali stepped up against [Sonny] Liston. Leonard stepped up against Hagler. [Evander] Holyfield stepped up against [Mike] Tyson. These are fights and fighters that will always be remembered because they dared to be tested at the highest level regardless of risk.
“Now, at last, we have Gennady against Canelo, a real Mexican-[style] fight. I give Canelo credit because he has always wanted this fight. I am relieved that his promoter finally had the confidence to make it.”
The bout won’t come close to the massive pay-per-view numbers that Mayweather and McGregor posted, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the fight.
This will be the one mega-bout that lives up to its promise and delivers the high-level of skill, momentum swings and Hagler-Hearns-type ferocity once that bell rings.
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