Triple G Plus One

By Adam Berlin on July 26, 2014
Triple G Plus One
When asked about his knockout prowess, he said simply, “This is my style.” (Naoki Fukuda)

Even if he couldn’t pack Madison Square Garden, Golovkin’s popularity was being built, punch by concussive punch…

Before I started writing about boxing, before I had a place on press row, I sat in the nose bleeds whenever I attended a major fight at the Garden. For more modest shows at the Garden’s more modest “Theater” (an arena with a capacity of around 5000), I sat a bit closer. And at New York City’s less-famous venues, where young fighters build their skills, I sat closer still. But even on Manhattan’s biggest stage, you can get a feel for boxing’s pain and boxers’ bravery if you arrive early. Preliminaries are sparsely attended, so a ringside seat is easy to find until the real ticket holder arrives and you’re forced to put a little more distance between you and the action. Unlike some walks of shame, this one is completely worth it—up close you see the beauty of disciplined footwork, you hear textbook punches land against flesh and bone, you smell exhaustion leaking from pores, and you practically taste victory and defeat; from a ringside seat the fight is tactile. It’s easy to watch TV fights and think you have a chance—flat screens flatten danger. Up close, delusions disappear. Professional fighters really are unique men, who can take it and take it more than most mortals.

I was looking forward to Saturday night’s main event fight between Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Geale, more than I usually look forward to seeing a live fight. This was the first Garden show where my brother David, newly appointed as Executive Director of the New York State Athletic Commission, would be running the show—yes, he’d have the best seat in the house. And this would be the first fight where Gennady Golovkin might get tested. Golovkin had been knocking the hell out of everyone since he turned pro eight years ago, but his roster of victims didn’t include A-list fighters. Geale, a ten-year veteran, had fought the stiffer competition, most notably Felix Sturm and Darren Barker. 

The last time I saw Golovkin fight live was in the Garden’s smaller theater. On that night, he beat up Curtis Stevens, but there were moments, before Stevens was done, where the game Brooklyn challenger landed some clean shots against the Kazakh champ. Geale, a busy, pressure fighter from Down Under, promised to land more clean shots, both down and up. How Golovkin would respond against an A-list fighter with an aggressive, punches-in-bunches style was the big question—a question big enough, K2 Promotions gambled, that it would fill lots of seats. To answer this question, the man they call Triple G, the man some call boxing’s future pound-for-pound king, would have to add a G to his resume. If Triple G Golovkin demolished Single G Geale the way he’d demolished his first 29 past opponents, Gennady Golovkin would solidify his standing as a future star.

The A Express going downtown moved local-slow, perhaps in tune with the night ahead, a build-up of preliminaries before the main event. On the ride, I listened to Kendra Morris’s Banshee, on repeat, which seemed a fitting omen of bad things to come for one of the combatants. I liked the lyric Can’t lock the doors cause she’s already in. Daniel Geale would need to keep his doors locked tight tonight. If Golovkin was already in his head, if Geale had any doubt he might not be able to protect his corporeal property, then the KO artist from Kazakhstan would probably end things quickly. The A pulled into 34th Street with a Banshee-like screech. I left the subway, picked up my press pass, put it around my neck.

When I entered the Garden, there were plenty of empty seats, perfect conditions for sneaking closer to ringside. I walked down, legitimately, to MSG’s floor, took my assigned seat in the press section, opened my notebook, and watched the first fight. It couldn’t be easy for these two young pros. Yes, they were fighting in the Garden. Yes, they were on the same stage where The Fight of the Century between Ali and Frazier played itself out last century, but the mostly-empty house, a few cheers evaporating into space, had to be a little disheartening. Their dream of fighting in the Garden had come true, but in their dream, I guessed, the place was packed. Then the bell rang, and 4-0 welterweight Julian Rodriguez was all reality. In 43 seconds, he put his opponent down for the count. A main-event harbinger? Perhaps. 

As the preliminaries moved forward, the arena started to fill, but the big Garden wasn’t exactly packed to the rafters; in fact, the blue rafter seats were blacked out for this show, and there were swaths of empty seats throughout. But while K2’s gamble to stage a Golovkin fight in the big Garden (a preponderance of Gs) wasn’t paying off in mega-dividends, the buzz of excitement unique to this Mecca of boxing exploded when the two heavyweights stepped into the ring for the first of HBO’s televised fights. The fans were loud for Bryant Jennings. The fans were louder for Mike Perez, though much of his reception included boos from a Philly contingent here to support By-By Bryant.  The fight was rough and ugly. The scores surprisingly close, with Jennings getting the split-decision nod. I hoped the main event would be cleaner, crisper, more decisive.

Daniel Geale entered to virtual silence. Usually there’s a longish break between featured fights, but in no time at all Geale was inside the ring, his silver trunks and robe glittering under the lights. The sound of silence became the sound of sound when Golovkin walked to the ring. His title belts glistened. The gold letters GGG on the back of his black robe glistened. And Gennady glistened. His natural charisma was elevated by everyone’s desire, a natural craving, to see the emergence of a new superstar. Golovkin bowed to all four sides of the ring, then disrobed to all-white trunks that had the sheen of plastic. In one corner, Geale looked in shape. In the other corner, Golovkin looked in supreme shape—he has a perfect boxer’s body. Strong, lean legs. Calf muscles that resemble springs. A thin waist. Wide shoulders. If power comes from torque, Golovkin’s physique is built to optimal specifications. 

The ring cleared. Michael Buffer did his bit. The bell rang.

Geale came out to fight. His herky-jerky style wasn’t just wasted movement. He was moving and landing punches. A jab. Another jab. An uppercut. Golovkin, balanced and stalking, responded with two sharp rights and a left. Geale landed his own right, then slipped on the canvas, his foot tangled in the rope. Geale looked up at the referee with an amused expression that seemed to say, With all the hype about Golovkin’s power, I shouldn’t be down from a slip. Geale stood. The ref brushed off his gloves. Golovkin continued his stalking pursuit, ended the first with a big swing and a miss. I gave the competitive round to Triple G.

By Round 2, any feeling-out Golovkin had done at the bout’s start had been felt. In the second, Gennady opened up immediately. Two right hands later, the first to the jaw, the second, less powerful, to the back of Geale’s head, put the Australian down, this time for real. Geale glanced at the referee, but there was nothing comic or ironic in his look. Still, Geale rose quickly and, like the pro he is, seemed unfazed. The round resumed and Geale stayed busy, herking, jerking, throwing many punches, punctuating the last seconds with a good right that landed flush. Geale walked back to his corner, cut over his right eye and on the wrong side of a 10-8 round.

Round 3 opened with Golovkin throwing wide, looping punches that missed. The bull had become the bull. The matador, keeping out of harm’s way, remained alive. But as Geale moved around the ring, his feet dancing, his body shaking, I got the sense he’d only be able to sustain this controlled freneticism for so long before exhaustion hit him. Instead, what hit him a moment later was the coup de grace. Geale landed a right on Golovkin. The force knocked back Golovkin’s head, but Triple G had already started leveraging his own right hand. Bang! Golovkin’s white glove landed flush on Geale’s white and crimson face. As Geale started to fall, Golovkin landed a follow-up left. Geale was on the canvas for the third time. Again, Geale got up quickly. But this time his legs were unsteady. He stumbled. The ref took a quick look, then waved off the fight. Daniel Geale didn’t protest. When he sat down on his stool, usually reserved for a minute’s rest and repair, he looked sick; he stayed seated for a long time. That’s the kind of power Triple G possesses. His punches don’t just hurt. They damage. 

After the fight, in the crowded ring, Max Kellerman spoke to the winner, who repeatedly thanked the fans for coming out. When asked about his knockout prowess, Golovkin said simply, “This is my style.” When asked who he’d like to fight next, Golovkin’s answer seemed almost scripted: “Miguel Cotto.” Gennady Golovkin was brought to New York City to fight in the Garden for a reason. Even if he couldn’t pack the place, his popularity was being built, punch by concussive punch. He needed to win in a major venue, and he did. He needed to decimate his opponent to keep his stature as KO king intact, and he did.  Gennady Golovkin is now big enough and marketable enough to secure some serious paydays. With a spectacular win in the Mecca of boxing under his belt, it makes sense to challenge the reigning king of the big Garden, Miguel Cotto, a man who is the linear middleweight champion, a man who consistently packs MSG to the rafters. Calling out Cotto was all business. No doubt, Cotto will conduct the business of making this fight happen with his trademark stoicism. Golovkin will conduct his end of the bargain with a very different trademark—his open, confident, dangerous smile. 

I sat press-pass close tonight, close enough to see many of the main event’s nuances, but not all of them. Had I watched the fight on TV, with its super close-ups and replays, it would have been much easier to see the fights’ subtle shifts, as confidence or doubt, invincibility or vulnerability, pleasure or pain flashed across the fighters’ faces. But what’s lost in TV-translation is the impact of being there, the three-dimensions of reality. Even in the nosebleeds where I used to sit, where fighters appear like moving stick figures way down there, where the power of a punch is most easily discerned by the crowd’s reaction to the punch, the thrill reverberates. Instead of a solitary viewing, or one with a few friends huddled on a couch, there’s a frenzy in the air at a live fight, a frenzy that washes over all the seats, that can only happen when thousands of people are congregated. When the mob is so focused on two men, the two men become all men. And so despite the inevitable sense of rivalry that competition breeds, a fight unifies somehow. Tonight, sitting close to the ring, with enthusiastic fans behind and above me watching the emergence of a future star in Gennady Golovkin, I felt like part of something. Together we watched a career-defining win for a potential pound-for-pound great.

Adam Berlin is the author of the recently published boxing novel Both Members of the Club (Texas Review Press/winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize). His other novels are The Number of Missing (Spuyten Duyvil), Belmondo Style (St. Martin’s Press/winner of The Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award) and Headlock (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill). His stories and poetry have appeared in numerous journals. He teaches writing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and co-edits J Journal: New Writing on Justice. For more, please visit

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Golovkin vs. Geale - HBO Boxing Highlights

Gennady Golovkin Postfight Exclusive LockerRoom Interview Geale

Golovkin-Geale Postfight Press Conference Part Two Geale And Jennings Speak

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  2. Don from Prov 05:21am, 08/03/2014

    Great write-up, Mr. B

  3. Mel 07:08am, 07/31/2014

    Adam, you did it again! Count on me purchasing all your books!
    Does anyone really think the Miguel Cotto will rise to the occasion and actually accept the fight? Stranger things have happened but the only person I have hear call out Triple G, is a washed up Mexican who I have to give credit for even wanting to fight this monster of a knock out artist.
    We all knew he was something special on his first HBO fight, this particular fight just validated what we though, Gennady Golovkin is the real deal and he will unify the belts.

  4. nicolas 07:22pm, 07/29/2014

    sssssteveo. I don’t know about the Eastern Europeans being the warriors of the sport. I mean for me the only ones I can see that definition for is Klitschko, Kovalev, and of course Golovkin. Lomachenko:? will have to see how he does in the future.

  5. beaujack 06:56pm, 07/29/2014

    Sssssteve, I agree with your post 100%. Golovkin would destroy Cotto
    or Alvarez without a doubt. Yes GGG after taking a right hand on the chin
    from Geale, shot a right hand a nano second later with enough power to
    ko Geale…I never saw this before, a fighter taking a right cross on the jaw
    and still had the strong beard and maybe 50% of his power left to tag his opponent for a ko…I know GGG has not been tested so far, but I think he would be more than a handful for any MWs of the last 50 years or so…

  6. Koolz 06:14pm, 07/28/2014

    Boxing is a business that destroys fights.

    Cotto and Golovkin will only happen if Cotto wants it.  PPV will make Cotto and GGG not happen, and Ward and GGG not happen.

    The numbers for the fights are not there for PPV.  Both Cotto and Ward, and Golovkin want those numbers. 

    This why Cotto would go to Canelo because they both would bring in the numbers for PPV.

    Ward would have to be the guy showing up for Golovkin fight I doubt his ego would allow that.
    Cotto might make to the fifth round with he fought Golovkin.

  7. SsssssteveO 03:29pm, 07/28/2014

    Seriously, if you KNOW boxing you must get the greatness of GGG. He does stuff nobody does. The way he took that great right by Geale and laid his right on top of it. Just imagine if Geale hadn’t tagged him. Oh my the damage. The Ward argument is BS. That’s another 10 lbs to gain when GGG wants to be king of the MWs. Countrymen aside Cotto has NO CHANCE. What a 5’6” Pac did to Cotto at the proper weight leaves the true boxing fan wondering how the heck anyone believes Cotto has a chance. I mean his “lineal” championship was won against a paraplegic. Those that argue that don’t have a “leg” to stand on. Alvarez would be really hurt given his lack of fluidity. GGGs hands down the middle and lefts to the body would debilitate Red. Ironically GGG fancies himself to fight like a Mexican Warrior. That said the the Eastern Europeans and Mexicans are indeed the warriors of the sport. After the 160’s are dominated bring on Ward. I see no problem here. IF Ward fights out of the Hood that is. GGG is the man. Ward is not a draw, G is. Now let’s here the Cottoricans whine and the four letter expletives from the Wardaholics. Come on guys if you know boxing you see the truth here.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:24am, 07/28/2014

    Yikes! Just took a gander at Robert Ecksel’s P4P list…..let’s see now…..he’s got a Lara but no Golovkin….that’s a little odd because if Golovkin ever landed flush on Lara we’d be in for another full on Ban on Boxing campaign….Mayweather, Ward , and Rigo….1,2,3….why not Lara in the 4 spot? Wlad and Kovalev well down the list….Okaaaay…..with Danny, Manny, and Timmy in the middle…..hmmm…..and a nod to the little guys with Roman on the bottom. Here’s what I’m thinking…...those two “ATGs” at the top…..their business is really with Golovkin and Kovalev and I give them both a chance of winning….but I also envision a scenario where both of them not only get beaten but get brutally KTFO in the process!

  9. Koolz 07:07am, 07/28/2014

    Geale is not old or out of shape or any other made up BS.  The guy is in his prime!  He took Golovkin to town making him miss so much that the crowd got into it.  He is a great boxer with Great Movement.

    Golovkin is just super fast and can cut the ring off, time the other guy, and unload with Violence at any given moment. 

    If Geale continued after that last knock down GGG would have destroyed him and fight would have been stopped regardless.

    A lot of Boxers will now think they can figure out Golovkin by using lateral movement and timing him at odd angles.  But GGG can and will cut the ring off and Obliterate you. 

    Watch what will happen to Cotto if this fight ever happens.
    I am sure Roach knows this from watching the Geale fight.

  10. Beaujack 09:04pm, 07/27/2014

    Why should GGG have to prove himself by going after the 168 pound Ward, BEFORE he unifies the MW title and make some money ?
    Why on the other hand doesn’t Ward jump up to the light heavyweights and tackle Sergey Kovalev at 175 pounds? Ward has had ample time to do this, more so than GGG…

  11. Tex Hassler 07:54pm, 07/27/2014

    Golovkin should have an easy win with Cotto if he can get the fight.

  12. Darrell 04:45pm, 07/27/2014

    Tragically, for me, didn’t see this fight but after watching that highlight reel above it does look like Golovkin leans back on that right hand that Geale threw just before his big punch.  Obviously, he saw it and managed to take the steam off of it.  He doesn’t often get hit too much and he must’ve quickly felt that Geale had no real pop.

  13. nicolas 04:07pm, 07/27/2014

    BOB WALKER: I was a doubter just like you, but after he disposed of Mathew Macklin, a man who many think (including myself) beat Felix Sturm, and gave Martinez a scare, I doubted no more. Even though I was not always impressed by Geale, I felt that he might cause Golovkin some headaches, but the result was not to be the case.

  14. Galvar 02:00pm, 07/27/2014

    GGG knocked Geale down while taking a pretty good punch to the face.  It’s like his fist wasn’t really connected to the rest of him so it just kept going straight to Geale’s head.  To be honest I was rooting for Geale cause he was the underdog but props to GGG, he may actually be the real deal.

  15. Bob Waker 10:54am, 07/27/2014

    It’s hightime the Triple GGG fights an A-fighter. Geale is over the hill. A Ward fight will earn him many believers. There are still lots of doubters at this time and that includes me.

  16. Koolz 09:16am, 07/27/2014

    Too True Irish Frankie!  And very well said!

  17. Alex 07:55am, 07/27/2014

    Forget Mayweather! Triple G is the man!. He is exciting, entertaining, goes on the attack, and he is a gentleman in and out of the ring. Unlike Mayweather, Triple G is ducking nobody in wanting to unify the title.

  18. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:15am, 07/27/2014

    “Professional fighters are really unique men, who can take it and take it more than most mortals”. They are men nevertheless like the rest of us and when they are in the ring with someone who hits as brutally hard as GGG and who is constantly on the attack that thing that lives in the dark corner of all of our psyches comes hurtling and howling to the surface…..and if they never have before…...very much in the moment….they begin to contemplate their mortality and then they are very much like the rest of us.

  19. peter 05:59am, 07/27/2014

    Thank you for this excellent, well-written, quickly-posted article!  Both Adam Berlin and Gennady Golovkin scored knockouts tonight!

  20. Mike Casey 04:42am, 07/27/2014

    As someone who didn’t see the fight and was dying to know who won, I’m grateful to the author for finally dropping in the result.

  21. Beaujack 04:23am, 07/27/2014

    Excellent column on the emergence of a super middleweight…I have been
    ‘watching boxing for over 50 years, and though I prefer the “oldtimers”
    because they competed with a much deeper pool of boxers than today, I
    who have seen Robinson, LaMotta, Cerdan, Hagler etc, ringside easily
    place Golovkin in this lofty company..His power is almost surreal and in about 300 amateur bouts and 27 pro bouts , has never been floored…
    His counterpart today is Sergei Kovalev in the lightheavyweight division
    who is given the runaround by Hopkins, Stevenson, because they avoid him like the plague .GGG and Kovalev belong with the greats of yesterday
    for sure…

  22. Koolz 02:44am, 07/27/2014

    Geale gave it his best.
    There was no way he could have kept it up though for 12 rounds.

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