The undefeated Gennady Golovkin (28-0, 25KO) with a knockout percentage of 89%, the highest in middleweight history, and most prolific among any active fighter in the sport is often referred to as the ‘most avoided man in boxing’.
However, this may all soon change if he makes his proposed move up to the Super Middleweight.
Despite his overwhelming dominance against Curtis Stevens, which saw him land 49 percent of his power shots, Golovkin was caught on many occasions with quick and powerful counter punches from the challenger. If he gifted the elite Super Middleweights such as Carl Froch and Andre Ward the same opportunities he offered Stevens he would surely pay a heavy price for his generosity.
For a moment, after Steven briefed rallied at the end of the 4th, landing several flush power shots right on the chin of Golovkin, much to the delight of the New York natives home crowd in Madison Square Garden’s theatre, I sensed there may have been a shock on the horizon.
But GGG quickly extinguished any fears of an upset by stalking Stevens remorselessly for the rest of the fight. The challenger, although not being hit with an abundance of clean shots, was forced into adopting a safety-first, cautious approach such was his suffocating pre-occupation with the punching power Golovkin possesses. Once the challenger conceded the centre of the ring to the champion- he was a lamb to the slaughter. Paradoxically, Golovkin’s predatory performance is exactly why I feel he will have serious problems asserting himself should he move up to Super Middleweight anytime soon.
The best 168lb fighters will not be bullied onto the ropes in the same manner Stevens was. Hence, Golovkin will be forced to stand in the centre of the ring and trade a lot more, a tactic he may not be overly keen to employ when faced with the awesome power of Carl Froch, or the unerring accuracy of Andre Ward.
And if the likes of Froch and Ward were able to find the target with a similar frequency as Stevens, then Golovkin could suddenly be in big trouble for the 1st time in his career. Some people will look at the punch connect stats for Stevens (97) and view it as a pretty paltry return. But on closer inspection you will see he only actually threw 303 blows, which equates to an impressive connect percentage of 32%.
It is a cast iron guarantee that both Ward’s and especially Froch’s superior punch resistance- in comparison to Middleweights- would mean their own offensive instincts would not be overly compromised due to their concerns about the power Golovkin carries. Consequently, his opponents at Super Middleweight would not have such a conservative punch output. They would far likely throw 100’s more punches than his current opponents do. And if the stats in the Stevens fight are an even vaguely accurate indicator, then Golovkin could suddenly have to absorb an additional 100 punches per fight – a lot of them power shots- from men who are taller, bigger and stronger than he is.
In such a scenario I suspect that Golvokin, the hunter, would become the hunted. It would be role reversal as he would be the man who is forced onto the back foot, bullied onto the ropes, and at risk of being beaten up by bigger fighters.
Like I said before, the best Super Middleweights will be confident their chin can hold Golovkins shots, and will have just as much conviction that they can bang with the big punching Kazakh in the heat of battle.
Conversely, Golovkin’s pristine professional record and great amateur pedigree allied to his illustrious boxing education, suggests he has the capacity to adjust his style in order to cope with the far more formidable challenges he would face in the 168lb weight class.
But he must take his medicine and carefully consider his next course of action or he could run a real risk of tasting his own medicine in the near future. Because, one certainty at Super Middleweight is that the result of his fights would be far more uncertain than the four-gone conclusions they are at Middleweight.