• Boxing

Ward is on the horizon for dominant Golovkin

Nick Parkinson
October 17, 2014
Gennady Golovkin has dominated the middleweight division, amassing a 90% knockout rate © Getty Images

Gennady Golovkin has already replaced Borat as the world's most famous Kazakh, and his name carries more notoriety with each brutal knockout.

The WBA world middleweight champion is back in action this Saturday and as his popularity grows, so do his chances of one day rising to the top of boxing's pound-for-pound rankings.

Golovkin is ranked at No.7 in ESPN's pound-for-pound rankings and is arguably the world's most entertaining boxer, with 27 knockouts in 30 victories. The 32-year-old has held a version of the world title for four years and this Saturday puts his WBA and WBC interim belts on the line against Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio in California.

His goofy smile belies the killer instinct that has led to comparisons with Mike Tyson, Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon and Jake LaMotta

Fans worldwide will tune in expecting a knockout from 'GGG'. He may have a goofy smile but he also has a killer instinct that has earned comparisons to the likes of Mike Tyson, Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon and Jake LaMotta.

Like many fighters, Golovkin didn't have the easiest of upbringings. Born in Karaganda, then part of the old Soviet Union, to a Russian coal miner and a Korean mother, two of his elder brothers were killed while serving in the Russian Army during his childhood.

He has a twin brother, Max, who helps manage his professional career, which started in Germany eight years ago after winning a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics.

Like K2 Promotions owners Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, Golovkin is an equally impressive individual outside the ring. He speaks four languages, is cheerful and avoids trash-talking, boasting or flaunting wealth in the mould of others in his trade.

He trains in Big Bear, California under the guidance of Abel Sanchez. His wife Alina and five-year-old son Vadim live in Stuttgart, Germany, but the family are hoping to relocate to the west coast of America, where Golovkin is building a healthy US fanbase.

Viewing figures for his fights in the US have topped 1.4 million on HBO, with his stalking style and heavy, accurate blows almost always producing a stoppage. Just ask Matthew Macklin. Golovkin halted their contest with a sickening third-round body shot in June 2013, and the British boxer believes the Kazakh is a worthy contender in the pound-for-pound debate.

"Golovkin is an elite fighter who you have to mention up there in the pound-for-pound rankings after Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward, Guillermo Rigondeaux and perhaps Manny Pacquiao," Macklin told ESPN.

"He really is a level above anyone at middleweight. There are five top middleweights who could beat each other, but he beats all of us."

Golovkin has never been knocked down in either his professional or amateur career, and the expectation is that Rubio, 34, will not threaten that record. The champion has stopped his last 17 opponents, Macklin among them, and the Briton believes a similar fate awaits Rubio at the StubHub Center.

He really is a level above anyone. There are five top middleweights who could beat each other, but he beats all of us
Matthew Macklin

"I've seen Rubio go into survival mode in fights and if he does that against Golovkin, he might last a round or two, but Golovkin will eventually get to him," Macklin said. "If he comes out with some ambition, Golovkin will stop him."

Having also faced both Felix Sturm and Sergio Martinez, Macklin ranks Golovkin above them both as the most dominant middleweight since Bernard Hopkins' days in the division.

"He's better than Martinez, even the Martinez of a few years ago," Macklin claimed.

"When I fought Martinez in 2012, he was fast, awkward and a spiteful puncher. But when I fought Golovkin a year later I thought he was much more of an all-rounder. He hits hard for a start, he's strong and his balance, footwork and judgment of distance are superb. Those are things that make him special.

"There are strong guys out there but they can't get their shots off. He plants his feet and picks his shots. Your best chance is probably going toe-to-toe with him to see if you can get lucky."

The biggest problem for Golovkin in this division it seems is that he is running out of opponents.

A step up to super-middleweight could see Gennady Golovkin face Andre Ward in the future © AP

"The proof how good Gennady is isn't on his record, the list of people he beat, knocked down - the proof is in the names of the fighters who don't want to go in the ring with him," Tom Loeffler, of K2 Promotions, told fightnews.com.

"The proof is Sturm, who refused to fight him. The proof is Martinez, who would never make a fight with him. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr is another good example.

"I've reached out to [British promoter] Eddie Hearn and I said that Gennady will come to UK and fight Carl Froch at 168 pounds in England. No problem, because he knows that he has a big numbers of supporters there."

A fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr, boxing's reigning pound-for-pound No.1, is unlikely while they are contracted to rival broadcasters. But Loeffler hopes a fight against the winner of Miguel Cotto-Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez will be possible next year, with the victor of Golovkin-Rubio installed as mandatory challenger for Cotto's WBC title.

Cotto or Alvarez are the only big fights available to Golovkin at middleweight, believes Macklin, before a future showdown with Andre Ward, the American regarded as the world's leading super-middleweight.

"When he beats Rubio, who are the names for him to fight? He could get the winner of Canelo-Cotto, and that would be a huge fight for him," Macklin said.

"Each fight Golovkin has on American TV, the more exposure he gets, the more fans he gets, the more money goes into the pot. Eventually, a fight against people like Canelo or Cotto could be pay-per-view in the States and that could keep Golovkin around at middleweight."

I don't see anyone beating Andre Ward except Gennady Golovkin, and I don't see anybody beating Gennady Golovkin except Andre Ward
Matthew Macklin

Golovkin believes he has another four years left in the sport. His place in history will depend upon whether he can guarantee the TV revenue to make fights against worthy opponents such as Cotto, Alvarez or Ward.

"I think he will step up a division eventually, and fight Ward," Macklin said. "Ward and Golovkin don't have that appeal yet but it's climbing in the right direction.

"I don't see anyone beating Ward except Golovkin, and I don't see anybody beating Golovkin except Ward."

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