Golovkin vs. Macklin: A Great Action Fight
Even though he is always firing fistic sleeping potions, his punches are compact and launched with very little in the way of telegraphic hints…
The secret is out. One of the best pound-for-pound pugilists in the world is the soft-spoken WBA and IBO middleweight champion from Kazakhstan, Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs).
On Saturday night Golovkin will defend his titles against Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) at the MGM Grand Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Connecticut. A native of Birmingham, England, Macklin is no stranger to the big stage. The gritty and hard punching 31-year-old has been on the losing end of three title tilts.
In a recent phone interview, I asked Triple G about the fight in the offing. “Macklin is tough and strong,” he said. “He will be right in front of me. It is going to be a great action fight.”
If Golovkin is correct about his opponent’s strategy, it might not be a long fight; or if it is, Macklin had better have a large bucket of ice packs at hand.
It would be hard to think of a more devastating puncher than Golovkin. After his January beatdown of Gabriel Rosado, the hardscrabble Rosado acknowledged that he had never felt anything quite like GGG’s punches.
I asked Golovkin’s sparring partner, heavyweight Denis Grachev, about his boss’s best attribute. Quick as a Pernell Whitaker jab, Grachev snapped, “His power. Both hands.” After an awkward silence, I pressed, “Do you enjoy sparring with him?” There was a laugh and then an ironic, “Yes, lots of fun.” Thanks for the interview.
Golovkin is a highly disciplined and focused boxer and as such is hesitant to let his thoughts stray beyond the ring where he will ply his craft tonight. Still, he was clear: “My ultimate goal is to unify the title”
Golovkin, who is married and has one child, lives in Germany. He speaks Russian and German and is now working on his third language. “When I was a little boy of 8 or 10,” he recalled, “I liked all sports, soccer, wrestling. But then I found boxing and I loved it right away.”
Did he ever.
Golovkin’s record as an amateur was a mindboggling 345-5. In the 2004 Olympics he nabbed a silver medal as a member of the Kazakhstan national team. A glimpse at his one-punch knockout of Lucian Bute at the 2003 World Championship in Bangkok was a harbinger of what he would do when he started punching for dollars. Gennady currently holds the title for the highest knockout percentage amongst world champions (88.4%)
“To me boxing is a sport and a business,” Golovkin mused. “I enjoy it very much.” His trainer Abel Sanchez elaborated, “Gennady is always smiling. He is so positive. He enjoys trying and learning new things.” Though he is a wrecking ball in the ring, “He has no desire to hurt anyone.” Perhaps in part because of his lack of bad intentions, perhaps because he understands boxing to be a sport, as opposed to a shootout at the OK Corral, Golovkin is calm as a scientist in his practice of the sweet science. As a result, he is able to slow things down in the ring, take a picture of his opponent’s mistakes, and capitalize on them.
Triple G has a ring post for a chin. In all his years as an amateur and a pro, he has never visited the canvas. But when I mentioned to Sanchez that his charge dropped his left and looked easy to hit with a right, Sanchez parried, “Maybe he has looked easy to hit. To be honest, I’m glad that he has shown some vulnerability, otherwise he might have scared all his opponents off.”
Sanchez noted that Golovkin’s combination of choice is a jab, left hook, left uppercut. It takes balance and coordination to deliver that damaging trio but Golovkin somehow manages to keep his pins under him and his weight over center even as he mounts his relentless ferocious attacks. Sanchez noted that his most potent single punch is a straight right—and the shots that he connects with are cannonballs.
Like Broner but busier, Golovkin is a highly economic fighter. Even though he is always firing fistic sleeping potions, his punches are compact and launched with very little in the way of telegraphic hints.
Triple G has not gone the distance in five years. Although he has logged 10 rounds on one occasion he has never put in a full 36 minutes of work. Some scribes wonder what will happen if he gets into the deep water, but it would be surprising if that happened this weekend.
The real test for Golovkin will come in the form of a Ward, Martinez or Mayweather; in other words, with someone who has a punch that Golovkin can’t walk through and who, at the same time, will spin Golovkin with constant lateral movement.
Sanchez remarked: “When I started working with Gennady he had a style like the Klitschkos. He got knockouts but that was just because they came to him. I knew that if he was going to make a good living in this sport he needed to change his style. He needed to become an exciting fighter. So the past few years we have molded a style that most closely resembles Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.” That is, one in which you get in close (but not so close that you smother your punching power) and you systematically break your man down.
“Right now we are working on getting better at cutting off the ring,” said Sanchez, which is just what Golovkin will need to do if and when he meets the elusive trickster from Argentina.