While America patiently waits for the heavyweight division to return as the star of boxing, the middleweight division continues its consistent high level of talent and exciting fights. Whether it was Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Bernard Hopkins, or currently Sergio Martinez, the technical abilities and explosive power of these 160lb fighters have captivated the American audience for decades.
The latest story to grab the attention of boxing fans has been the destructive rise of Kazakhstan’s Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Sporting an impressive record of 26-0 23 KO’s which ranks as the highest knockout ratio among current world champions. Golovkin plans to prove that all the buzz is real, as he takes on Matthew “Mack The Knife” Macklin on June 29th on HBO. K2 Promotions has successfully matched “GGG” against fighters such as Kassim Ouma, Gregorz Proksa, Gabriel Rosado, and most recently Nobuhiro Ishida, whom he knocked out cold in Monaco in the 3rd round, raising his knockout streak to 13 straight. With the odds seemingly in his favor, Golovkin looks to be unstoppable but “Mack The Knife” doesn’t see it that way in fact at the opening press conference for this fight, he likened this bout to Trinidad vs. Hopkins and promised to dismantle the new star the same way Hopkins did Trinidad 12 years ago.
If a fighter is ranked by who he wins against then the rules should change since Matthew Macklin whose record is 29-4 20 KO’s, has put up some of the best fights in losses in world championship bouts. Macklin most recently blasted out former world title challenger Joachim Alcine in just one round, but his most memorable bouts have been against Felix Sturm and Sergio Martinez. In the Sturm fight, Macklin seemed to outwork, out land, and basically out hustle Sturm in front of a stadium of Sturm fans in Cologne, Germany, only to lose a heartbreaking split decision. Looking to redeem himself after the depressing loss, his next fight would be another title shot against current WBC Champion Sergio Martinez in a fight that looked to be even going in to the championship rounds, but after being caught with some concussive straight lefts from his southpaw opponent, Buddy McGirt, Macklin’s trainer, called the bout off after two knockdowns to award Martinez an 11th round TKO. With redemption on the agenda, Golovkin should have his hands full against the former world title challenger.
As the fans anticipate another knockout win for the innocent looking Gennady Golovkin, it must be noted that Lou Dibella who promotes Matthew Macklin, doesn’t believe his fighter is in with the best at middleweight, he believes that the hype train will be derailed. Breaking down Golovkin’s last few fights we can see that while “GGG” is gifted, he has been in with limited opposition. Proksa was another contender who didn’t have the style to give a come forward fighter like Golovkin trouble, and he was blasted in front of an HBO audience. The fight between Golovkin and Rosado had middleweight title holders and up and comers seeing a vulnerable side of the Kazakhstani since Rosado, while bleeding profusely from cuts caused by solid punches, was able to land on and frustrate Golovkin creating doubts in fan’s minds whether or not he was the real deal. The fight was stopped after 7 rounds, but his next bout proved that his power was real. Going in against Japanese spoiler Nobuhiro Ishida, Golovkin wanted to impress fans once again and he did, stopping Ishida for the first time almost knocking him through the ropes to successfully defend his title for the 6th time.
The intriguing part of this fight for most fans is that they believe Golovkin has the chance to prove himself against a top middleweight. By beating Macklin, he puts himself in a good situation as his resume would be good enough to face Martinez if he wins impressively. The betting odds will undoubtedly be against “Mack the Knife” by the time the two step into the ring at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, and rightfully so in most people’s opinion. While fighting the better opposition in his last 4 bouts, Macklin has come up short on few occasions and at times when he has stepped up; he hasn’t always looked so good. In his first shot at the title, Macklin looked to give it his all against Felix Sturm but lacked the power to put a decisive finish to the bout and he had to settle for a split decision loss. It was a crushing loss but on paper it will give most pundits a reason to doubt him. In his next bout with Martinez, Macklin used his size and reach advantage to fight a tactical bout on the outside scoring occasionally against Martinez and scoring a dubious knockdown to gain a lead, but fighting a world champion of Martinez’s caliber only meant that he would have to do more if he wanted to win. With the fight even, Martinez turned up the heat and started to land hard left hands that backed up Macklin until one of them sent him to the ropes and then the canvas. It was the beginning of the end as Martinez would follow up to drop him once more just before the bell.
So the bottom line as we anticipate this fight is, will we pick the great amateur experience and destructive power of Golovkin, or does the slick ring generalship and volume punching of Macklin give us another Trinidad-Hopkins? On June 29th we will find out and until then we will have to wait and see who the real middleweight champion is.