Predatory Golovkin Halts Brave Stevens

by Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin, Curtis Stevens - Photo Credit: Will Hart (Click for More)

In the build-up to Saturday night's middleweight title fight, there was a lot of focus on the vaunted left hook of challenger Curtis Stevens and the question of whether it could prove an equalizer against the overall skills and power of champion Gennady Golovkin. Sure enough, a left hook landed heavily, and almost conclusively, early in the fight; but it was Golovkin who threw it and Stevens who found himself flat on his back.

To his credit, Stevens peeled himself off the canvas, but despite putting up a valiant fight he was ultimately overwhelmed, his corner stepping in to rescue him after eight rounds at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. It was Golovkin's fifteenth straight knockout, and his 25th stoppage in 28 career victories.

Read the Full Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Golovkin Prepares to Answer Stevens' Questions

by Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin - Photo Credit: Will Hart (Click for Slideshow)

In some ways, the weigh-in for tomorrow's middleweight title bout between defending champion Gennady Golovkin and challenger Curtis Stevens reflected the spirit of the city in which it was taking place: somewhat hectic, taking place amid a crush of people in a confined space, and yet contriving to work out just fine.

Amid it all, of course, Golovkin, making his second appearance as a professional fighter in New York City, was the picture of calm contentment, smiling as he weighed in at 159.6 pounds – four-tenths of a pound inside the middleweight limit – and again as he made his way out of the packed room. Stevens entered and exited as the underdog, and though his demeanor carried none of the happily relaxed mien of his opponent, he exuded a composed confidence befitting a man with three first-round knockouts in his last four fights.

Retired British favorite Ricky Hatton would often dryly observe of his chosen profession that "it isn't exactly a tickling contest," and true as that it is of any matchup between professional pugilists, it is all the more so of the two boxers who will square off in The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Since returning from a two-year hiatus, Stevens has dispatched all but one of his foes – the granite-tough Derrick Findley – before the end of the opening round. Meanwhile, only three of Golovkin's 27 opponents have made it to the final bell, none of them since 2008.

Viewed at from one angle, it is possible that Sunday's headlines will look more negatively on Saturday's loser than positively on the winner: If Golovkin wins, it will be because he was expected to, because he is the sport's latest unstoppable force and Stevens was an unworthy speed bump on his road to success. If Stevens wins, it will be because those who remained unconvinced about Golovkin's path of destruction were right to be skeptical, and because the Kazakh terror was in fact a mirage that disappeared as soon as it was confronted with Stevens' patented left hook.

Looked at less cynically, it seems destined to be an explosive matchup, and an intriguing one at that – although largely, it must be admitted, for the opportunity it provides to ask further questions of Golovkin. Any time a fighter explodes onto fight fans' collective consciousness, particularly when he does so with an undefeated record and a string of knockouts, he carries with him a bushel of what-ifs. What if he meets an awkward southpaw? What if he faces a genuine world title contender? What if he takes an explosive punch from a knockout artist? Golovkin has already answered the first two by destroying Grzegorz Proksa and Matthew Macklin respectively; at some stage during Saturday night's proceedings, he'll surely be forced to respond to the third.

Still, it is not the responsibility of boxers to pay heed to or concern themselves with the endless trials invented by boxing fans and media. Their task is to enter the ring and fight. Golovkin and Stevens are two men who on Saturday will most assuredly do just that.

CompuBox Analysis: Golovkin vs. Stevens

by CompuBox

Boxer-puncher matches are the lifeblood of matchmakers but for fans there's nothing like a slugger vs. slugger showdown. On Saturday, Gennady Golovkin, whose .889 knockout percentage is the highest ever among middleweight titlists, will meet Curtis Stevens, who has scored three sensational first-round stoppages in his last four fights. The potential pyrotechnics may well represent an early Thanksgiving present for boxing fans worldwide.

Beyond the obvious power stats, there are other numbers that may shape the outcome. They include:

Read the Complete Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens CompuBox Analysis on HBO.com.

One Year and Four Fights Later, Golovkin Eyes Stardom

by Kieran Mulvaney

It seems improbable, so meteoric has been his ascent through boxing's ranks, but just 17 months ago, Gennady Golovkin was preparing to fight an opponent named Makoto Fuchigami in the Ukrainian town of Brovari.

Of Golovkin's 22 previous professional contests, one had been in Panama, one in Denmark, one in his native Kazakhstan, and the rest in Germany. For American fight fans, the only way to watch his march through the middleweight division was via YouTube clips, links of which were circulated via online message boards in postings with headings of the "You Have to Watch This Guy Fight!" variety.

Fast forward a little under a year and a half and the situation could not be much more different. Less than four months after dispatching Fuchigami in the third round, Golovkin punched his way into the consciousness of HBO viewers with an impressive stoppage of Grzegorz Proksa in his network and U.S. debut. Despite battling a cold, he halted Gabriel Rosado in his next outing, then flattened Nobuhiro Ishida in Monaco and, in June, faced off against former two-time world title challenger Matthew Macklin at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

Macklin was widely expected to provide the toughest test of Golovkin's career, to challenge him in ways previous opponents had not. Instead, almost from the moment Golovkin's first punch landed, the Irishman looked unsettled, and despite battling back bravely, he was felled by a vicious body blow that could be heard and felt by those sitting ringside.

Now, as he prepares to take on Curtis Stevens on HBO's Boxing After Dark this Saturday, Golovkin is one of the most recognizable figures in the sport, with a rapidly growing fan base and a critical acclaim that is reflected in his being listed at number four in the pound-for-pound list in the most recent episode of 'The Fight Game with Jim Lampley.'

It is a success that, says Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, which signed Golovkin in January 2012 and has guided his rapid ascent, is rooted in two elements.

"To me, to be truly successful in boxing you need the combination: you need to be able to win inside the ring but you also need to be marketable outside the ring," he says. "It's what Sugar Ray Leonard had, what Oscar De La Hoya had: you had those combinations, and that's what really impressed me with Gennady. Not only is he ferocious inside the ring, but he's so enjoyable to work with out of the ring."

That contrast – between concussive fighter and mild-mannered ringsider  – is highlighted by Golovkin's own dissection of the Macklin fight.

"I respect Matthew. He is a good boxer, and a good man," he begins. But "I have plan for my fight. After the first round, I feel him. He's a good fighter, but his style is easy for me.  I don't know why. But it feels great."

If it is his highlight-reel knockouts that have fans buzzing, it is the boxing skill he deploys to set up those knockouts that appears to give him the most satisfaction:

"A lot of fans say to me, 'I like your style, your power is good.' It is not just power. Balance, timing, distance, speed, is all power," he says.

Victory over Stevens – which, it should be noted, is no sure thing, as anyone who saw the American's first-round left hook knockout of Saul Roman in August can testify – will put the cap on Phase One of Golovkin's assault on boxing's upper echelon and leave him looking forward to Phase Two.

"Every fight is baby step," he insists. "Next year is very important."

This year hasn't been too bad, either.

Read the Complete Quick Hits: Gennady Golovkin at HBO.com.

Golovkin Looks to Add to His Legend as Hard-Hitting Middleweights Face Off

by Hamilton Nolan

Gennady Golovkin is a fighter at the very height of his powers. Those powers are so overwhelming that it is reasonable to speculate that only a handful of men in any weight class possess comparable levels of mastery. This is odd, since Gennady Golovkin is far less famous among casual fans than quite a few fighters inferior to him. That won't be true for much longer. Golovkin is a force so overwhelming that he hardly needs to prove himself any more. It is up to the rest of boxing to prove that it can stop him.

There is nothing shameful about being inferior to Golovkin. It is safe to say that as of the present moment, every middleweight in the world is inferior to Golovkin. In order to find a fighter who might have a fair chance of winning a fight against him, it's necessary to look down a weight class, to Floyd Mayweather, or up a weight class, to Andre Ward. They are the two very best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and each of them has a far more star-studded résumé than Golovkin does. But that is the level at which the puncher from Kazakhstan is destined to find his real challenges in the sport. He is ready for that level of fight right now. He just needs to climb a few more steps up the ladder of contenders to prove it to the paying public.

Read the Complete Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens Fight Overview on HBO.com.