Hide the contenders


There should be a deep, abiding shame about this point in Gennady Golovkin’s career. The boxing world is, unfortunately, a deeply shameless place.

Golovkin, aka GGG, the God of War, a Kazakhstani middleweight with a penchant for merciless headhunting inside the boxing ring, is most exciting fighter in the world right now and perhaps one of its greatest champions, though we’ve no actual idea if the latter clause is true.

Golovkin, 32, has for roughly 3 years been saddled with middling opponents because everyone with a lick of goddamn sense and marketability they’d like to maintain avoids him like the plague.

He’ll fight Australian Danny Geale on HBO on Saturday, a boxer who has managed to win some middleweight belt every time a weak champ has held one over the past decade.

Geale is exactly the type of fighter Golovkin makes a habit of punching through—just enough cache for HBO and Ring Magazine to pitch as a legit fighter in a legit fight when they both know damn well fans want to see GGG test himself against a marquee name.

Geale is making noise presently about his quickness, saying Golovkin can’t see what he can’t hit. Geale’s surely a quick man who punches in large volume. There’s a fundamental flaw in his argument, though, and it centers entirely on Golovkin giving a shit what Geale is doing. I’ve seen Golovkin’s last five fights now (at 29-0 with 26 knockouts, he’s on a 15-fight knockout streak), and he’s never once been taken aback by quick shot to the face, much less the body.

Golovkin zeroes in on his target—generally one’s head with a murderous left hook, or one’s liver with a right hand jab shoveled into the lower ribs—and the target is predictably struck. What happens on the other side of this sequence is of no concern to the Kazakh assassin. Punches glance off the sides of his moon-shaped face and pistonlike shoulders as he walks down opponents with such fearsome force and speed they can’t rightly acquire a target of their own.

At first, they become visibly shook, as Curtis Stevens did in the 2nd round of Golovkin’s last fight in America in November 2013. They become fearful, timid shells, fight plans eschewed in the hopes of turning the affair into a game of quick points scored before scurrying away ahead of another flurry. Golovkin forcibly shelves these plans with laser-guided straight rights to the face—again walking through any oncoming traffic to press his point—and opponents begin the short walk to knockout or TKO salvation via the ref or their trainers, who prove they have eyes and a heart when they throw in the white towel.

Golovkin fights inevitably proceed to the same conclusion. Nobody has given him cause to amend his strategy or even see it through to 12 rounds (he’s only been to the 10th once in his career.) This is exactly the sort of fighter the various sanctioning bodies should want to arrange major matches for. But everyone of note, bar none, has been given a free pass by the commissioners, promoters, boxing peers and the press for dodging Golovkin. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., who could have scored a big-time PPV payday in front of an assuredly massive Mexican crowd in California against Golovkin demurred without risking his reputation, such as it is. Sergio Martinez marched to his career’s death at the hands of Miguel Cotto rather than face Golovkin while his stock was soaring just a year ago.

Cotto seems content only fighting middleweights who are approaching or past their primes, sticking instead with the assured paydays the more star-studded welterweight and light middleweight divisions afford him.

Andre Ward and HBO would like you to believe Ward—who calls himself the Son of God—is  above Golovkin, but Ward is likely scared of getting his face rearranged. They all are. Because until one of them does it, nobody has provided even the outline of a road map to besting Golovkin.

Boxers work hard and get beaten on for a living. I’ll not question their manhoods in waiting Golovkin’s prime out, especially when nobody will pressure them to do otherwise. But they’re walking right past a goldmine.

Insane power punchers—Joe Louis, George Foreman, Roberto Duran, early Manny Pacquiao—come around once in a blue moon and are a bonanza for television ratings. Everybody gets rich off of them because of that ‘oh shit’ punching ability that interrupts conversations and leaves everyone slack-jawed in the ring and, more importantly, in PPV-buying homes.

It’ll be a shame to let that sort of draw walk down the Danny Geales of the world. But then this boxing business is nothing if not shameful, a choreographed dance between the power-hungry, the corrupt, addicts, bullies and fools. Nobody’s walked all of them down.