Boxing fans and media have an interesting habit that is typically frowned upon in other walks of life: stereotyping. How many times have we heard boxers categorized under the hard-nosed, tough-chinned Mexican style, or the uber-tactical, “point-focused”, Cuban style, or the Philly Style, or the Puerto Rican style or the Japanese Style?
Often times, we even see boxing’s minor players getting labeled: a corrupt Texas Commission, blind DC referees, European fight doctors with weak stomachs and low tolerance for blood, etc. Whether right or wrong, we have almost grown to accept this stereotyping as much as we’ve learned to (sort-of) embrace Harold Lederman’s overly-excited “Ok, Jim!” after every three rounds.
These generalizations are part of our vernacular, rarely criticized as “unfair” or judgmental, and dismissed as a sometimes-quirky part of this sub-culture of which we are all part. As it also happens in “real-life,” these stereotypes are often-times confirmed by our observations, further digging these biases into the depths of emotional beings- Orlando Salido’s performances against Juan Manuel Lopez, for instance, didn’t help disprove any previous opinions we had about the toughness of Mexican boxers.
Whether right or wrong, it’s human nature to take mental notes of the things that confirm our already deeply-rooted beliefs and somehow easier to remember the absolute worst, or the absolute best about people.
That having been stated, every so often, boxing fans are treated to the simple joy of watching a boxer ascend the ranks by transcending stereotypes and fighting with a style that is uniquely theirs. Fighters like Andre Ward, Brian Viloria, Nonito Donaire, Sergio Martinez, Abner Mares, and Gennady Golovkin come to mind.
The latter of the aforementioned bunch, Golovkin is starting to fall under one label. That one label is his own: a very (VERY) heavy-fisted and tactical boxer with the ability to fight as aggressively as they come, but also the unwavering patience to wait for, and skill to capitalize on, the right opportunity. A fighter with a solid chin and a relentless spirit, a boxer that is feared and for good reason; he is uniquely Gennady Golovkin.
A note to my hundreds of thousands of loyal Kazakh readers (that number sounds about right): if I’m wrong about his skills being unparalleled and this is how everyone in your corner of the world fights, please let me know so I can leave my day job and fly to Central Asia to become a boxing scout.
Last week, the name of Golovkin’s long-awaited next opponent was announced: “King” Gabriel Rosado, whom he will face at Madison Square Garden on January 19th. Strangely enough, the headlines and tweets that followed felt more like the announcement of a death sentence for Rosado than anything else.
Golovkin has been back at camp for over 6 weeks now and recent videos of him hitting the mitts with Abel Sanchez in his Big Bear, CA gym remove all doubt that he’s going to try to make his 2nd date with HBO like the crazy after-bar to his coming out party. There’s going to be a lot of screaming, a little grunting, and some people (Gabe Rosado) might not really remember everything that happened when they wake up the next morning.
When asked personally about who he would like his next opponent to be and where, Golovkin answered “Seriously, it doesn’t matter who’s next, I’m staying here.” And you better believe that he wasn’t referring to Verona, NY, the site of his most recent fight.
“Here” for Golovkin is the upper echelon of boxing where he knows he’s arrived and is planning on staying.
Some may point to his relative inexperience and low brand value in the US or his lack of big name fights as a reason for not wanting to sing his praises just yet. Let’s keep in mind that Golovkin soundly knocked out a very tough Grzegorz Proksa as a pro and mopped up the floor with Andy Lee, Lucian Bute and Andre Dirrell as an amateur. He has also never been dropped or stopped in over 400 fights.
Frustrating for some is that he doesn’t fit any of our specific pre-set stereotypes. But scary is the reality that he fits too many of them- and they are all of the favorable ones.
A lot of nonbelievers understood what all of the hype was about after his performance on HBO this past September while some still need a little more convincing. A win over Gabe Rosado won’t silence all of the critics but regardless of which side of the fence you stand, we can all agree that he is a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
On January 19th, I believe a lot of us will be tuning in to see if we can finally set our minds at ease by placing him comfortably in a pre-existing box or under a well-known label or if he’ll just continue shattering our expectations and making his own name.