The war may be over for Gennady Golovkin.
Like any terrifying political conqueror (Caesar, Stalin and Mao are actually pretty apt comparisons here), the Kazakhstani middleweight may have moved past his conflict with forces conspiring to keep him away from boxing’s highest echelon.
He’s now consolidating his power.
If Golovkin, 32, can win Saturday against Mexican power puncher Marco Antonio Rubio, 34, he will have backed all of the threats to his place as the world’s number one middleweight into a corner, where they must face him or admit illegitimacy and face exile. His first West Coast date—the tilt’s in Carson, California—will make him a prized catch for Las Vegas’s great arenas and fight fans, who are surely calling for him (nobody else fighting outside of Vegas or off Pay-Per-View is drawing more bodies or rating higher on TV).
After facing a long line of victims—sequentially less hapless but no less helpless before Golovkin’s powerful hooks—he’s amassed 17 straight knockouts and earned the adoration of the fighting public.
For his efforts he gets a fight with Rubio—a gatekeeper for the top rungs of the 160-pound division. Rubio punches hard, has a good chin and will trade blows with GGG at a level the phenom hasn’t yet experienced. Rubio lacks any discernible rhythm to his exchanges. It’s what makes him so dangerous, like a great curveball or changeup pitcher, opponents often get caught flat-footed by the Mexican’s vertigo-inducing punching speeds and angles.
Rubio’s last loss is informative of how this fight will go, though. In a 2012 defeat at the hands of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.—a unanimous decision—the stronger Chavez repeatedly took Rubio’s best shots and landed some of his own, pushing Rubio to a point of fatigue where it was all he could do to play defense. GGG is almost certainly Chavez’s superior when it comes to strength, and while he may not have experienced quite the power that Rubio can pack, it’s known that Rubio will make himself very available
to exchanges in the middle of the ring, exchanges he is highly likely to lose given GGG’s history. If the action plays out in Golovkin’s favor Saturday—a moderate but not substantial ‘if’—we’re going to see some very frightened power brokers in the middleweight division’s topmost echelon. HBO will certainly want to move one of their few rising stars to PPV when the ratings come in. Vegas will surely be tired of watching New York and Los Angeles showcase the most exciting draw in their sport.
These developments will turn up the heat on those who have ducked Golovkin—Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, Andre Ward, Canelo Alvarez and Chavez. Money talks, and the fighters—along with their promotional stables—won’t be able to afford to watch GGG bank against lesser lights when the network and casinos start begging for dates.
The politics of fighting decree that fans can be ignored until they can’t, until the cacophony for a big puncher grows so loud that somebody has to go answer the door. Who it’ll be first will be interesting, but by now, it’s almost irrelevant.
Golovkin has the people, now he’ll demand heads.