Golovkin Answers Questions by Crumpling Macklin

by Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin - Photo: Ed Mulholland

So does that answer the questions?

Gennady Golovkin hasn’t fought anyone, they said. His highlight reel knockout wins have been over blown-up junior middleweights, they said. Wait until he fights a full-size middleweight like Matthew Macklin, they said.

Well, what are they saying now?

If they’re anything like the several thousand fans and media in the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods on Saturday night, they may have trouble saying anything until they pick their slack jaws up off the ground. Nobody can know what the future holds, of course, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that dominating Macklin and knocking him out with a third round body shot was for Golovkin what annihilating Michael Spinks was for Mike Tyson: the defining moment of tightly coiled, almost superhuman, power and intimidation.

Indeed, from the moment the opening bell rang, the fight had the air of Tyson in his pomp: a wrecking ball of a fighter reducing the toughest of opponents to jelly before the first punch has even been thrown. Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs) knew what he had to do: keep Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) at distance, flick out the jab, and not let him get close. But he did so with so little confidence that he was unable to keep his stalking predator at bay; the first couple of punches that landed seemed to confirm in Macklin’s mind his sense that punishment was just around the corner, and then a straight right hand and left hook near the end of the first round sent the Anglo-Irishman into the ropes and seemingly on his way to an early exit.

Read the Complete Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Irish Fans Are Cheering as Macklin Prepares for Golovkin

by Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin - Photo: Ed Mulholland

Unlike the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, its namesake establishment in Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort complex is surrounded not by a riot of light and noise but by the genteel charm of small-town New England. Yet despite its comparative isolation, Foxwoods is no stranger to big fights. It hosted its first professional fight card – headlined by heavyweight Tommy “The Duke” Morrison – in 1992. A young Floyd Mayweather fought here; so did an up-and-coming Andre Ward. More recent contests include Sergio Martinez sending Sergiy Dzinziruk to the canvas five times and Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto exchanging furious knockdowns in a bout that had HBO’s late Emanuel Steward rhapsodizing ringside.

Not every fight can be so exciting, of course, but hopes are high that Saturday night’s main event just might be. Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight titlist from Kazakhstan, is undefeated as a professional, and his 26 wins include 23 by way of knockout. His hands appear to be made of some kind of amalgam of concrete and dynamite, landing with a heavy thud on his opponents’ chins and exploding with a ferocity that quickly renders them prone. His Anglo-Irish foil, Matthew Macklin, is a worthy foe, who twice previously came up short in title tilts, but on one of those occasions – a disputed decision loss to Felix Sturm – arguably shouldn’t have.

He is also, unlike Golovkin’s two most recent victims, Gabriel Rosado and Nobuhiro Ishida, completely at home in the middleweight division. As he and Golovkin faced off on a stage in a ballroom on Friday, Macklin looked the physically sturdier of the two, although both men weighed in at 159 pounds – one pound inside the middleweight limit – and Golovkin appeared the taller man, an illusion created by his wearing sneakers while Macklin stood only in socks.

There is a certain incongruity to the idea of a fighter from Kazakhstan facing an opponent from the British Isles in a casino on verdant Native American land, but to judge from the roars that greeted Macklin as he stepped on the scales, this is something of a home game for the man from Birmingham.

Golovkin is the favorite of the handicappers, a walking highlight reel who may be on the verge of vaulting into his sport’s highest echelons. But Macklin, drawing on the heavy Irish community in the region, will likely be the darling of the crowd in the arena on Saturday night. If they are able to roar him onto victory, it will be a famous one indeed; but a Golovkin win – and particularly an emphatic one – against his most dangerous foe yet would go a long way toward demonstrating whether he is merely a very good fighter or potentially genuinely great.

Check Out a Golovkin-Macklin Weigh-In Slideshow at HBO.com.

Junior and Super Middleweights Support Saturday’s Main Event

by Kieran Mulvaney

In swift succession, Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin (GGG to his friends) has moved from YouTube sensation to HBO debutant to bona fide main event star. His clash with Matthew Macklin on Saturday would be reason enough to tune into Boxing After Dark; but there are two intriguing undercard contests on the broadcast, featuring young prospects and contenders looking to make their own names in weight classes just below and above the one through which Golovkin is presently prowling menacingly.

 

Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) vs Brandon Gonzales (17-0, 10 KOs), super middleweights

Thomas Oosthuizen

Ossthuizen, a 6’4” southpaw from South Africa, rarely fights tall, despite the physical advantages he brings into the ring. He is a fighter more than a boxer: his jab is tapping rather than thunderous and is used mostly to set up a strong left hand, and he gives up his height – and as a result gets hit – in his determination to land his punches. His 22 fights include matchups against solid opposition, such as fellow countryman Isaac Chilemba and tough veteran Fulgencio Zuniga.

 

Brandon GonzalesGonzales is in comparison relatively untested. A well-regarded amateur, he turned professional at the late age of 23, but has had just 17 fights in six years since then and has yet to go past eight rounds. Perhaps his most notable win to date was over veteran Ossie Duran in late 2011; at 29, he needs to seize the opportunity against Oosthuizen to make a meaningful move up the rankings. Conversely, Oosthuizen will feel that an impressive victory will put him in the frame for bigger bouts at world championship level. With both men likely to eschew defense in favor of aggression, it promises to be an action-packed appetizer to the main course.

 

Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) vs Luciano Cuello (32-2, 16 KOs), junior middleweights


Willie NelsonThe opening bout of the telecast matches Ohio’s Nelson against Cuello, an Argentine with a straight-up style and a solid left hook and right hand. Cuello fought valiantly in a close decision loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2009 but was completely outgunned by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez a year later, being dropped twice early before a sixth-round stoppage. Those are his only two defeats; but they are also the only two occasions on which Cuello has truly stepped up in class.

Luciano CuelloSimilarly, Nelson’s career is to this point one of potential rather than achievement. The lanky (6’3”) prospect from Youngstown was outhustled and outfought in his lone loss, an eight-round decision defeat to Vincent Arroyo two years ago; but he has rebounded strongly, with upset decision wins over Yudel Jhonson and, on the undercard of Sergio Martinez’s win over Chavez, John Jackson (son of Hall-of-Famer Julian Jackson). Most recently, he dropped Michael Medina twice – the first time with a short counter right hand off the ropes – en route to a first round stoppage win at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, the same location as Saturday’s contest. He likely will be looking to steer the come-forward Cuello onto similar punches, doubtless seeking to fire straight rights between his opponent’s generally wider blows.

CompuBox Analysis: Golovkin vs. Macklin

by CompuBox

As of this writing, WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin is regarded by many as the second-best 160-pounder on earth and after top dog Sergio Martinez's struggle against Martin Murray in April some are putting "GGG" at number one.

The German-based Kazakh will look to further his case Saturday by fighting a previous Martinez victim in Matthew Macklin, who floored "Maravilla" in the seventh before falling in the 11th in March 2012. If Golovkin can beat Martinez's score in the clubhouse, and look good in doing so, he'll bolster his case for a potential head-to-head showdown in 2014.

Each man's CompuBox history unveils factors that may influence the result.

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis: Golovkin vs. Macklin on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Oosthuizen vs. Gonzales

by CompuBox

For all the matchmaking story lines that unfold in boxing, the one that is more desired amongst fans and media -- but not among managers and promoters -- is the one that pits two, young, unbeaten fighters who are still looking to ascend to the big leagues in terms of purses. Such fights are tremendous risks for those involved for while victory will set them on the road to potential riches, a bad loss could wipe out years of hard work.

Saturday's showdown between South African Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KO) and Sacramento-based Oregonian Brandon Gonzales (17-0, 10 KO) is one such fight and the risk-reward equation may well enhance the final product. The super middleweight class is arguably the deepest in boxing and a win could gain them admittance to its highest echelons.

CompuBox factors that may determine the outcome include:

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis: Oosthuizen vs. Gonzales on HBO.com.

From the Amateurs to the Pros, Golovkin and Macklin Go Way Back

by Kieran Mulvaney

Matthew Macklin after winning the NABC's in 1998.

Gennady Golovkin might be a relatively fresh face on the boxing scene, but Matthew Macklin, his opponent this Saturday night at Foxwoods, has known about him for a long time.

By the time most fans become aware of a professional boxer – when he does his first ring walk on ESPN or on Boxing After Dark – the likelihood is that he has already been plying his trade for a couple of years and has probably racked up at least a dozen wins. Few of us pay heed to the early-career four-and-six-rounders, contested in near-empty arenas several hours before the main event, in which he honed his craft.

Many of his fellow boxers, however, have probably been watching him for a while. Fighters know fighters, as the saying goes, and news of one with talent spreads through the community, with whispered descriptions of gym work and sparring as well as reports of those early pro fights. And, in many cases, there is a deeper reservoir of information on which to draw, in the form of dozens, even hundreds, of amateur bouts.

Fighters of comparable age and experience may have been around each other for years before turning professional, going to the same amateur tournaments, keeping a watchful eye on potential rivals, perhaps doing battle en route and all the while making notes for a possible future clash when the bodies are bigger, the gloves are smaller and the headgear has been removed.

Amateur rivalries can spill over into the professional ranks in various ways. Lennox Lewis famously stopped Riddick Bowe in the 1998 Olympic super heavyweight final, which fanned interest in a rematch when the two reached the top of the pro ranks several years later; when Bowe dumped his title belt in a trash can rather than face mandatory challenger Lewis, it was hard to escape the conclusion that the Olympic loss left the American wanting no further part of his conqueror.

Conversely, Miguel Cotto seemed to go out of his way to avenge his amateur defeats. Fellow Puerto Rican Kelson Pinto made the mistake of beating Cotto twice in the unpaid ranks; Cotto smoked him in six when they met as professionals. Muhammad Abdullaev dumped him out of the 2000 Olympics; Cotto beat him up and stopped him in nine rounds five years later.

Sometimes, what happened in the amateurs happens in the pros: Vernon Forrest was the underdog when he faced Shane Mosley for the welterweight title in 2002, but he had defeated Mosley in the Olympic trials ten years previously and he did so again as a professional in what was considered a major upset.

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield never fought as amateurs, but they sparred once – reportedly with such ferocity that the session was stopped after one round – and allegedly had a brief but intense staredown over a youthful game of pool, two events in which Holyfield refused to be intimidated by the great intimidator, and which he took with him when he finally met, and beat, Iron Mike in the ring.

Which brings us to this Saturday’s Boxing After Dark main event.

Golovkin’s fame, and the enthusiasm that many boxing cognoscenti express for his career, is based almost as much on his amateur pedigree as his professional accomplishments: 2003 World Amateur Champion; 2004 Olympic silver medalist; victories over the likes of Andy Lee, Matt Korobov, Andre Dirrell, and, by spectacular stoppage, Lucian Buté. But, as Eric Raskin notes in his preview of Saturday’s contest, one man watched Golovkin’s rampage through the unpaid ranks with an interested detachment over the years.

Macklin never fought Golovkin as an amateur, but became aware of him long before the rest of us, all the way back in 2000 in fact, when the two youngsters competed a division apart at the world junior championships. He looked at him then as a potential foe and has been observing him ever since. By the time the undefeated Kazakh exploded onto the radar screen of the broader American boxing public with a crushing win over Grzegorz Proksa last September, Macklin already had 12 years of mental notes filed away for the day of reckoning that is now just around the corner.

Fighters know fighters, they say. And Macklin claims to know Golovkin as well as anyone. Does that knowledge extend to knowing how to beat him? We'll find out Saturday night.