Last night, I was fortunate enough to be present at Madison Square Garden as Kazakh middleweight Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (30-0, 27 KO) defended his WBA middleweight title against tough Australian contender Daniel Geale (30-3, 16 KO). For a boxing fan like myself, seeing Golovkin in person is a special treat. There are very few holes in his game. He’s a smart fighter, a patient stalker and very solid technically. However, what really sets him apart is his rare, show-stopping power he posses in both hands. With one flick of his sledgehammer jab, he moves hard-nosed, experienced prizefighters backwards, snapping their heads back and sending sweat flying into the third row and when he sees an opening and really starts teeing off, nobody seems to be able to stand up to it. It’s like watching a middleweight Mike Tyson.
The concept of ‘power’ in boxing is a strange one, in that it’s not something that can be taught. Every professional prizefighter can throw a punch, but whether you have true power or not is a natural thing. Some fighters who are very skilled technically (Paulie Malignaggi being perhaps the greatest example, but even Floyd Mayweather fits here) don’t have power and there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it. They just don’t have it, and they can’t train it into themselves. Gennady Golovkin has insane, otherworldly, all-time great power. Here’s a nice shot of Brooklyn bomber Curtis Stevens, a man also renowned for his power, after he tasted a Golovkin hook in the second round of their fight last year:
Over the past three years, Golovkin has steamrolled everyone in his path, which included some very solid middleweight contenders. His promoters very quickly realized what they have and they have slowly been building his name up in an effort to make him a legitimate boxing star. They’ve capitalized on his endearing looks and personality, the funny way he speaks English, and that power. That. Power.
Given that GGG isn’t exactly the youngest guy–he is 32 years old–they need to move now on getting him big fights. Last night was a nice step for him, as he sold over 8,000 tickets in the big room at Madison Square Garden for his fight as the clear A side over Geale. Boxing fans can only hope he gets an opportunity to shine on a bigger stage moving forward, as the sport can use another crossover star–and one who never disappoints inside the ring, which is something boxing fans have become all too familiar with.
Last night was my second time seeing Golovkin live, after catching him at MSG Theater last November against the aforementioned Curtis Stevens. I’ll tell you this after seeing him twice: while he looks, talks and acts like a sweet guy–Gennady Golovkin might be the biggest monster walking the streets of NYC today. Enough rambling here; let’s go to the fight breakdown:
Fight Recap: Gennady Golovkin TKO3 Daniel Geale
This fight was supposed to be Golovkin’s biggest test to date. Daniel Geale, an Aussie who has been fighting at the contender level for a long time, is a 33 year old, tough, smart fighter who has been in with some good opponents, including a victory over European titlist Felix Sturm and a disputed split decision loss against Darren Barker a year ago, a fight in which Geale floored Barker with a wicked body shot only to see Barker somehow get up and finish the fight. Geale, though having two losses on his record, had never been stopped, and both losses were close and somewhat controversial split decisions.
Geale is not necessarily known for his power, so I thought his best chance against a guy like Golovkin who punches like a gorilla on bath salts, would be to box him from the outside, stick a couple of quick jabs in Golovkin’s face and move out of the way as his dangerous power shots. And Geale seemed to come out following this plan, expending tremendous amounts of energy trying to flick shots at Golovkin while backpedaling away from his dangerous hooks and power shots, as Golovkin patiently stalked him around the ring in a strange first round that somehow lasted an entire extra minute due to a timekeeper’s malfunction (dude, you had one job).
Golovkin began to find Geale a bit more in the second round, digging a couple of short hands into his head and body as he closed the distance on him. Golovkin scored a knockdown in this round, although it was more of a grazing shot and the result of a perhaps slightly confused and off-balance Geale after a Golovkin flurry.
In the third, Geale seemingly decided he was done boxing and moving. He wasn’t getting anywhere with that strategy, he was losing rounds even while executing his gameplan, and he chose to hold his ground and bang with Golovkin. This is a bad idea. The finishing punch was a thing of beauty–Geale actually lands a flush right hand over the top, drilling Golovkin right on the forehead. Somehow, while still reeling backwards from the impact, Golovkin brings his own right hand around and plants it directly onto Geale’s nose. Here’s a great clip of the shot.
Geale goes down with his gloves over his ears as if to stop them from some horrible ringing, gets up shakily, and shakes his head no when the referee asks him if he wants to continue. He had felt Golovkin’s power, and he wanted no part of it.
Just an incredible performance from GGG. After the fight, he called out Puerto Rican superstar (and holder of the lineal middleweight belt) Miguel Cotto. As boxing fans, we all hope this fight happens–it would be a major PPV and would make GGG a true star star. I doubt, however, that Cotto and his team would take it as there is a strong possibility that GGG would cut him down like he did to Geale last night.
Regardless of what happens, I’ll be enjoying the Golovkin ride. I can only hope other, non-boxing fans jump on the GGG bandwagon, because what we have here is a once-in-a-generation talent, a man fast becoming his own legend.