Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) is like a character in a work of fiction; a quiet warrior from the east that has come and laid waste to everybody he has faced so far. His affable nature outside the ring belies his ferociousness inside it, and a sincerity seems to shine through his words even with a limited grasp of the English language, endearing him further to the watching audience.
His next potential victim hails from St. Helens, England and is almost certainly his toughest test to date. Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs) has already had two attempts at world titles, first against Felix Sturm in Germany in 2011 and then against Sergio Martinez in Argentina sixteen months later. A draw and a contentious loss respectively are encouraging results to take away from both instances and it speaks volumes about Murray’s ability that they remain the only blemishes on an otherwise pristine resume.
Golovkin and Murray will square up in Monte Carlo, Monaco on February 21st for Golovkin’s WBA Super World middleweight, interim WBC and IBO middleweight titles. And, in a video for thaboxingvoice.com featuring numerous other reporters, the defending champ was characteristically rudimentary in his assessment of Murray.
“A little bigger than me, he’s taller than me. Super-middleweight, no middleweight…New Year, first fight, big challenge. This is the biggest challenge for me right now.”
He then dismissed how much of an advantage size can be when inside the ring against a fighter like himself.
“I am small everybody’s bigger than me. Remember my last fight Marco Antonio, he is taller and bigger than me. It doesn’t matter.”
Marco Antonio Rubio seemingly didn’t even bother trying to make weight when he faced Golovkin in October last year, entering the ring at around 180 pounds. He fell in two rounds from a left hook that landed like an axe-blow to the temple.
Golovkin has been so dominant since his arrival on the world scene that the media demands more from him than the most fighters. Sparring sessions with other prominent fighters are the source of much interest. Golovkin spoke about his sparring session with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and said, “It was good sparring, not hard sparring like fight sparring. We practiced. I helped him, he helped me, just practice for a couple of rounds.”
He was less tight-lipped about his sparring with the light-heavyweight destroyer Sergey Kovalev, dismissing the assertion that the two are friends just because they come from the same part of the world, and both could concuss a rhinoceros if they needed to.
“Sergey is a good fighter, he is a big champion you know. It was a great time with him two years ago. Sanchez helped him, he helped me, it was like school. [When asked if he knocked down Kovalev in sparring] I didn’t knock him down, just hard work.”
Golovkin gives great credit to his trainer Abel Sanchez for diversifying his approach to boxing, saying that he can now incorporate a number of different styles thanks to the tutelage he has received.
“First of all thank you for my coach Abel Sanchez, he’s living in California, his parents are from Mexico, he opened my eyes for the perfect style. I know the Russian style like Kovalev. I know the Russian style. I know the German style. And thank you to my coach for opening my eyes to the Mexican style, to American style. I’m very happy. I understand my situation, I understand my style. This is a big year for me.”
Upon hearing that, the first thing I thought was that Golovkin understands he is one scary guy and that nobody really wants to fight him. I often think back to the look on his face when he knocked out Daniel Geale after having eaten a right hand just before landing his own decisive blow. That expression would fill any sane man with dread if he was about to face Golovkin.
In concluding the interview session Golovkin gave his opinion on two potential opponents down the line should he come through his bout against Martin Murray. On fellow big-puncher David Lemieux (33-2, 31 KOs) and his last win over Gabriel Rosado he said, “I saw the fight and he’s a great [noticeable pause] prospect. Now I just want a pay-per-view fight or a unification fight. David is a strong guy, for the future, of course yeah.”
And on former WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) who recently vacated his title for reasons unknown, “I remember his situation with the belt. I don’t know. He’s not champion. He’s regular fighter.”
I am glad Golovkin is pursuing the biggest fights possible, but then that’s never been the problem. He falls in to that category of not offering enough financial reward for the risk his opponents take in facing him, as his name is not instantly recognizable by those who do not follow boxing. As a result he is easily avoided under the pretense of not being a viable opportunity for some of the more established names in and around his division.
The other belt holders at middleweight are Andy Lee (WBO), Jermain Taylor (IBF), and Miguel Cotto (WBC), and he has to look at clearing up the entire weight-class in the style of Bernard Hopkins, then he will hold all the cards. If he does that then all paths lead to him, so anyone hoping to become champion has to step up and dance with the devil.