As boxing fans continue to try to hide their boners from the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight finally being announced on Friday night, and lower-level dream matchups like Ruslan Provodnikov-Lucas Matthysse around the corner, let’s not forget the one man who has given us fireworks throughout this most recent, rough, 16-month stretch: Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin, boxing’s perhaps fastest rising star, is a 32-year old middleweight supernova, who looks like a schoolboy but punches like a bastard. He’s endeared himself quickly to boxing fans with his performances in the ring, where he has knocked out 18 straight opponents coming into tonight, and his personality out of the ring, where his goofy accent and self-aware smile has spawned boxing-insider catch phrases (calling his opponents “good boy” and promising a “big drama show”).
Golovkin’s main problem has and will continue to be the lack of a challenging opponent willing to step into the ring with him. Lineal middleweight titlest Miguel Cotto isn’t keen on fighting him and many of his competitive prospective opponents (Andre Ward, Carl Froch et al) are in the weight class above him. That said, for the last year he’s put his head down and fought–and summarily destroyed–all comers in what is admittedly a soft middleweight division.
Tonight in Monte Carlo, Golovkin stepped into the ring with his toughest opponent to date, Britain’s Martin Murray. Murray is a huge middleweight at 6 feet tall, has the chin of a brick wall and whose only two blemishes on his record were close fights against top fighters: a loss to Sergio Martinez and a draw with Felix Sturm, both in those respective fighters’ backyards. Murray was the biggest challenge out there for Golovkin, but due to a criminal record was unable to fight in the US, hence why the fight was held in Monte Carlo. The fight, as all Golovkin fights do, delivered the action, the blood and the balls.
Fight Recap: Gennady Golovkin TKO11 Martin Murray
Golovkin (32-0, 29 KO) came into the fight a heavy favorite, but Murray (29-2-1, 12 KO) came in with a clear gameplan and started the fight off tit for tat with the Kazakh monster, fighting with him on even terms throughout the first two rounds before starting to take some punishment in the third. Murray would start the fight by landing a few shots on Golovkin before tying him up, using his size advantage to lean on him and trying to smother Gennady’s offense by getting in close. It worked, for about nine minutes. I found myself impressed with his first copule of rounds before spending the rest of the fight simultaneously admiring Murray and feel sorry for him.
Why? Because being in a ring with Gennady Golovkin is like being a dog in a fight with a wolf. Golovkin is an expert at cutting the ring off, fires technically perfect shots and has the concussive power of a horse’s kick. Murray was on his heels throughout the entire fight, fighting the match of his life but still barely surviving and taking damage that in all likelihood took years off of his career if not his life.
It started when, in the fourth round, Golovkin landed a nasty right hand right to Murray’s belly. You could almost see Murray’s organs ripple inside of his stomach as he crumpled to one knee. Golovkin’s power has stopped people with body shots before, as he famously left once-top contender Matthew Macklin curled in the fetal position with a liver shoot. Murray ended up taking a second knee just to buy himself some time to recover and make it out of the round.
But making it out of the round he did, and Murray continued to fight admirably. He was getting beaten up and badly throughout the rest of the fight, but he never stopped throwing. Golovkin was relentless, on the offensive for the entire fight, never looking worn down but continuing to fire punches from all angles. Murray got his share of shots into Gennady too–Golovkin does not seem to value defense as a top priority–but with the damage he was taking, Murray’s punches just didn’t have enough steam to move Golovkin. It didn’t help that Murray’s nose was completely busted up, spattering blood down the front of his chest and causing him to fight half the fight with his mouth open.
Golovkin scored another knockout in the 10th round, catching Murray backpedaling with a head shot and hurting him badly. The tough Englishman came out for the 11th round but had nothing to offer, and the referee rightly stepped in to end the fight after Golovkin snapped Murray’s head back grotesquely with a couple of bending uppercuts.
Golovkin proved his class here, but so did Murray. Murray should leave with his head held high (if he can still hold it up at all) and cement himself as likely the true #2 middleweight in the world. He fought a great, smart fight against a vicious, rabid animal of a fighter. His team should make sure they buy an extra plane ticket home for his giant balls, cuz they’re going to need the extra room.
Fight Recap: Arthur Abraham UD12 Paul Smith
Sometime the Wolf Score: Abraham 116 – 112 Smith
Also in action on Saturday, from Germany, was the Arthur Abraham vs. Paul Smith super middleweight rematch. In their first fight, in September, a competitive and close bout was marred by some absurdly wide scoring in favor of the hometown fighter Abraham (not an uncommon thing in Germany), causing both fighters to agree to a rematch to settle the score.
This one was a doozy, a fun back-and-forth fight with a lot of heart and skill shown by both fighters. Abraham (42-4, 28 KO) is a one-time world class fighter who is getting older and on his last legs, and can sometimes be plagued by inactivity inside the ring. He still has some power and skill though, and after a slow start to this match he showed it, clubbing Smith with some hard shots when not defending himself with his trademark, neigh-unbreakable high guard. After an even first four rounds, Abraham began to show his class, dominating must of the middle rounds (at least on the scorecards) and pulling away for a comfortable lead. He did have a brief scare in the sixth, when he showed obvious pain after a great liver shot from Smith, after which Abraham did not throw a punch for an entire minute. After that round though, Abraham managed to compose himself and regain control of the fight.
Smith (35-5, 20 KO) made good account of himself though, and stayed active throughout. He created drama throughout the fight by being ready, willing and able to wing punches back at Abraham after getting hit, but he spent too much of the fight with his back to the ropes and being driven around the ring by the more powerful Abraham. He fought a great fight, but was just matched against a better fighter, and there’s no shame in that either. Abraham took much of the final two rounds off, giving him the last two rounds and making the score, at least on my card, look a bit closer than it actually was.
That being said, though it was a clear Abraham victory, it was an entertaining and energetic fight throughout. Worth a watch, and a satisfying ending given this was an honest Arthur Abraham victory.
Overall a solid afternoon of fights for boxing fans, and a bright near future coming up. Though 2015 looks bright, there hasn’t really been many big fights yet this year, so this really kicked off the season. Let’s hope this year lives up to the hype–it’s been a long time coming for long-suffering boxing fans. Here’s to a great year of blood, balls and hopefully some drama–the good kind–in the next few months.