This past weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York City, WBA middleweight titlist Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin (aka Triple G or simply GGG) knocked out Australian challenger and former title belt-holder Daniel Geale in three rounds. The bout was televised by HBO.
Golovkin, born in Kazakhstan, is undefeated with a record of 30-0, 27 KOs. He is amiable, engaging and possesses a demeanor that endears him to fans as well as the boxing media. He is a very good puncher and is exciting to watch. Quite simply, he is a breath of fresh air for the fight scene. He also seems to have somehow hypnotized those that cover the sport into believing he is the second coming of Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Henry Armstrong all rolled into one package.
It is a perplexing celebration for a fighter that in reality is untested to some degree. Yet within hours of having summarily dispatched Geale, boxing websites and blogs lit up with headlines such as these: “GGG: Great, Great, Great” and “GGG = WOW” and “Is this the hardest hitting fighter on the planet?” and “Gennady Golovkin’s Legend Grows as KO Streak Continues vs. Daniel Geale.” One writer floated the fallacy that Golovkin could be one of the hardest middleweight punchers that has ever lived. And finally another headline: “Are there still doubters of Gennady Golovkin?”
My answer? Yes there are still doubters. And I am one of them.
Those that profess to cover the sport, particularly in America, were tripping over themselves with what seemed a mix of infatuation, glee, mania and downright lust after Geale hit the floor and decided he could not continue. While I agree with the fact that Golovkin is a very good fighter - my thought is we need to tone down the praise for him, his efforts and his accomplishments until we see more of him versus top-flight opposition.
Some have even dared say that Golovkin is better than former middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler which would lead me to think they also are of the notion he is a better middleweight than Bernard Hopkins.
Based on what Golovkin has achieved so far in a professional career that dates back to 2006, the bottom line is that he is nowhere near either of those two who are generally regarded as the two best middleweights of the past 30 years. Hagler was undefeated for 11 years, unified the middleweight crowns which he held for six-and-a-half years and defeated Tommy Hearns in one of the greatest fights in all of boxing history. Then there is Hopkins, who also unified the middleweight championships, defended the titles a record 20 times and was champion in some shape, form or fashion for over a decade.
In comparison, Golovkin has held one major title belt (WBA) for three-and-a-half years. He is an active fighter and he has defended that title 10 times. The most notable name on his record is Geale or perhaps Matthew Macklin whom he defeated last year. Aside from those two names, the opponents Golovkin has met and defeated are an unremarkable collection.
So why the seeming puppy love with him from the boxing media?
I think it has to do with several factors. Golovkin is an extremely nice person. Very accomodating, gentlemanly and he is always smiling. He has also surrounded himself with like associates in the form of promoter Tom Loeffler and trainer Abel Sanchez. Both of those men are true gentlemen, astute, intelligent and always willing to talk about the prowess of their man Gennady. Another factor that makes Golovkin a media favorite is that he likes to remain active. In an age when the top boxers fight on average twice a year, Golovkin has fought ten times in the past three or so years. He is also new on the scene for the most part. The media seems to have found a new star whom to hitch their wagon as fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez prepare to ride off into the twilight of their long careers. Lastly, Golovkin is perceived as the “good guy” hero. There is no doubt that GGG wears the white cape in any boxing promotion he is involved with while the opponent will be the one wearing the dark hat. So, while not an underdog, he is seen as a likeable alternative to the abrasive Floyd Mayweather, Jr. or the petulant Andre Ward.
HBO has gone “all in” on the Golovkin love affair. They recently signed him to a contract extension to appear on their airwaves and commentators Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman were effusive in their praise while watching from ringside. HBO unofficial judge Harold Lederman recently proclaimed that, “I love Gennady Golovkin.”
It seems the one true voice of reason is not going to be found in those that cover boxing or the “boxing media” as it is of 2014. The one true voice of clarity seems to come from that of Tom Loeffler, Gennady’s promoter, who was the one (incredibly) toning down all the rhetoric during the media love festival.
“Abel did compare Gennady to Marvin Hagler,” said Loeffler this past Saturday. “There wasn’t any disrespect at all to Marvin Hagler. All of us on the team have a ton of respect for what Hagler has accomplished in his career. He just thinks that Gennady is on that level and the way he took out Geale, who is one of the top guys, I mean, I don’t think there is anyone at 160 pounds that can stand for twelve rounds with Gennady Golovkin.”
That is about as close to the truth as you will hear in this day and age when it comes to an evaluation of Golovkin's talents. Quite simply, everyone needs to take a deep breath and relax. If Golovkin is as good as everyone is writing that he is then he will have his chance to prove it. He has yet to unify his championship. He has yet to meet a top pound-for-pound opponent. He has yet to headline a pay-per-view or pull in big television ratings in America. He has yet to face adversity or an opponent that has been able to push him. He has yet to do anything that would warrant a comparison to Marvin Hagler, Bernard Hopkins or as possibly being one of the most powerful middleweights who’s ever lived. To headline a story about him with the word "legend" is lunacy.
But for whatever reason, the boxing media chooses to ignore those facts.