HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: KO of the Year

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, KO of the Year.

Previously: Fighter of the Year, Breakthrough HBO Fighter, Best Blow, Best HBO Boxing Moments, Trainer of the Year, Round of the Year

Kieran Mulvaney: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin

Adonis Stevenson's annihilation of Chad Dawson and the cold-eyed destruction of Ismayl Sillakh by Sergey Kovalev are high on the list, but Golovkin's one-punch body shot stoppage of Macklin was the kind of performance that burns itself into the memory. Macklin, a quality contender who had pushed Sergio Martinez to the brink, looked confident before the fight, deeply concerned after taking his opponent's first couple of punches, and broken in half after Golovkin dropped him with a shot that cracked his rib and kept him on the canvas for several minutes. It was an emphatic end to a powerfully dominant performance from the Kazakh-born sensation -- one that announced he is a true force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division.

Eric Raskin: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin

Because I didn't care for the way in which Stevenson-Dawson was stopped -- the ref never asked Dawson to step forward and called what struck me as a slightly panicky halt in a fight of that magnitude -- I have to pick GGG's bodyshot blastout of Macklin. This wasn't like Bernard Hopkins' bodyshot stoppage of Oscar De La Hoya, which did the job but didn't look like much. Golovkin's left hook to Macklin's middle packed all the aesthetic punch you could ask for. You could almost feel Macklin's pain from your living room couch -- especially when he was still struggling for breath as Michael Buffer announced the result a couple of minutes later.

Nat Gottlieb:  Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

Complete shocker as Dawson, despite his loss at 168 to Ward, was still considered the man at 175. Adonis took over The Man status in short order with a brutal left cross that nearly lifted Dawson off his feet and sent him down flat on his back. Dawson bravely got up to beat the count, but the ref took one look at the fighter, who probably didn't know where he even was, and waved it off.

Tim Smith: Mikey Garcia KO8 Roman Martinez

There is nothing quite like a perfectly executed left hook to the liver to bring matters in the ring to a quick and decisive conclusion. And that is exactly what Mikey Garcia did when he landed that perfect KO shot on Roman "Rocky'' Martinez at 56 seconds of the eighth round of their WBO super featherweight match. When Garcia landed the shot, Martinez was frozen like a block of ice from its paralyzing effect. The victory solidified Garcia's credentials a legitimate star.

Hamilton: Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

Adonis Stevenson knocking out Chad Dawson in the first round. This was the single most emphatic "Hello, goodbye" moment of the year in boxing. A changing of the guard.

Michael Gluckstadt: Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

There was no KO more emphatic or dramatic than Adonis Stevenson proving out Emmanuel Steward's prediction that he would be the number one fighter at light heavyweight, and doing so in the first round.

Before 2014, the Best of 2013

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Will Hart

Households across the country have had the opportunity to exchange gifts and wear garish sweaters. But for boxing fans, the most wonderful time of the year presents a special challenge. Granted, you're grateful for that tie, and who doesn't need more socks, but where's the sanctioned, televised violence? Sure, Uncle Ernie and Cousin Jerome might square up after too much eggnog, but it's hardly the same, is it? And it may very well be a wonderful life, but I think we can all agree that James Stewart is no Ruslan Provodnikov.

Never fear, HBO Boxing is here. To help bridge the gap until our first live fight card of 2014 on January 18, we're bringing you the best of 2013. If you missed any of these 10 fights the first time around, you can watch them now on HBO.com:

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II

Three years after Kessler scored a narrow decision win over Froch in his native Denmark, the Englishman extended an invite for a rematch in London, and the result was another 12 rounds of first-rate action.

Round to Watch: In round 5, Kessler landed a hard left-right combination that buckled Froch, only for the Brit to shake it off and take it to the Dane for the rest of the round.

 

Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly

Kovalev's reputation as a fearsome puncher preceded his HBO debut against Cleverly, and it was only enhanced after he blew away Cleverly and took his light-heavyweight belt in the process.

Round to Watch: Although it wasn't the final frame of the contest, round 3 was the one in which the fight was effectively knocked out of the Welshman, courtesy of a pair of heavy knockdowns.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Bradley's first outing since his highly controversial 2013 win over Manny Pacquiao was nearly a disastrous one, as he (and the world) was introduced to the relentless punching power of Siberia's Provodnikov.

Round to Watch: Round 12 was the most dramatic final three minutes of professional prizefighting since Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. nearly pulled victory from the jaws of defeat against Sergio Martinez last fall.

 

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

Fan favorite Cotto returned to HBO after back-to-back losses in 2013, and rebounded in style, with arguably his most emphatic victory in years.

Round to Watch: Officially, the contest ended in the second, but it was all but over before that, as Cotto came bouncing out of his corner on his toes and spent the first three minutes tearing into Rodriguez with his long-vaunted but much-missed left hook.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II

In a rematch of their hellacious first encounter, Rios and Alvarado once again thrilled fans with a bruising battle in which neither man gave any quarter, both ended the night battered, but only one man was beaten.

Round to Watch: Just try and watch the second round without your jaw dropping. Go ahead. Try it.

 

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin

After rolling to two stoppage wins on HBO, Golovkin took on the sternest challenge of his professional career in the form of former title challenger Macklin. The aftermath saw a lot more passengers clambering aboard the Golovkin bandwagon.

Round to Watch: The third-round ending is a study in violent artistry, as Golovkin maneuvers Macklin into position before dropping the hammer blow.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

Bradley's reward for escaping Provodnikov was a pay-per-view bout against Mexican veteran Marquez, and the result was two men putting on one of the year's best displays of skilful boxing-punching.

Round to Watch: For the second Bradley fight in the row, the final round had the most drama, the result of the contest seemingly hinging on the final three minutes – and even the very last punch of the fight.

 

Adonis Stevenson vs. Chad Dawson

Dawson was returning to light-heavyweight after an unsuccessful attempt to wrest the super-middleweight crown from Andre Ward. Few had heard of Stevenson before the opening bell; it only took 79 seconds for that to change dramatically.

Round to Watch: Let's put it this way. Once the fight begins, try not to go to the bathroom or the kitchen, or even to sneeze.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

Eleven months after the sudden and disastrous end to his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao returned to action against Rios, in the first pay-per-view boxing card to be broadcast from China.

Round to Watch: Bit by bit, round by round, Pacquiao's speed proved too much for Rios; the final frame, when Rios made one last effort to turn the tide, was the best of the bunch.

 

James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia

There are boxing bouts, and there are fights. This was a fight.

Round to Watch: All of them. Seriously. All of them.

 

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Breakthrough HBO Fighter

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, Breakthrough HBO Fighter.

Previously: Fighter of the Year.

Kieran Mulvaney: Adonis Stevenson

It's tempting to nominate Gennady Golovkin, who only made his HBO debut last year and is now widely regarded as being, at worst, on the fringe of many pound-for-pound lists. But I'm going with Stevenson, who exploded onto HBO with a first-round obliteration of Chad Dawson (followed by a 5-mile sprint around the ring) and hasn't looked back. Honorable mentions to Sergey Kovalev and Ruslan Provodnikov.

Eric Raskin: Ruslan Provodnikov

There were so many excellent candidates for this one, and I might have given it to Adonis Stevenson if I hadn't already named him my Fighter of the Year. Instead, in a narrow decision over Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Mikey Garcia, I'm picking Provodnikov because of the leap he made relative to my expectations coming into the year. I assumed he was an ESPN2-level boxer, little more than a clubfighter. By nearly defeating Tim Bradley and then forcing a surrender out of Mike Alvarado, the all-action Provodnikov proved me all sorts of wrong.

Nat Gottlieb: Gennady Golovkin

I give it to Golovkin over Stevenson because people already knew about Stevenson coming into this year. Golovkin was largely unknown stateside until this year when he exploded onto the boxing scene by knocking out all four of his opponents in breathtaking fashion. The future is limitless with this guy. The problem is finding opponents for him.

Tim Smith: Adonis Stevenson

Adonis Stevenson is soaring in rarified air. It is not often that a fighter can take over a single division with the kind of concussive force that Stevenson displayed in 2013. Doing it the hard way, starting with the best lightweight heavyweight in the sport, Chad Dawson, Stevenson smashed his way through the division. He won all three of his 2013 matches by knockout. Now he stands as the best light heavyweight champion in the game, setting up an explosive 2014. 

Hamilton Nolan: Adonis Stevenson

He knocked off the champ, and knocked out the challengers, and covered the most distance of any fighter in terms of vaulting from relative unknown status to solidified champion status. He should beat Kovalev, but it'll be close.

Michael Gluckstadt: Adonis Stevenson

"Superman" came in to his bout against Chad Dawson as a 7-1 underdog. It'd have been one thing to eke out a win over the lineal light heavyweight champion, but knocking him out before the first round was even out? That was truly shocking. And he followed it up with two impressive defenses, showing that his signature victory was no fluke.

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Fighter of the Year

Photo Credit: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. First up, Fighter of the Year.

Kieran Mulvaney:  Gennady Golovkin

There are some strong candidates -- Mikey Garcia and Timothy Bradley among them -- but this ultimately comes down to a choice between two men: Adonis Stevenson and Gennady Golovkin. Each fought three times on HBO in 2013, scoring knockouts each time; and although Stevenson's first-round stoppage of Chad Dawson was arguably the single best win of their combined six, the overall level of competition, and the growing sense that Golovkin might be on his way to being a truly special fighter, means I just give the nod to the man from Kazakhstan.

Eric Raskin: Adonis Stevenson

This is a two-man race for me, between Stevenson and Timothy Bradley, and while Bradley fought a higher level of opposition overall, I give the nod to Stevenson for unexpected dominance in his three HBO fights. He was an underdog against Chad Dawson, and he won by knockout in one round to claim the lineal 175-pound championship. He wasn't an underdog against Tavoris Cloud or Tony Bellew, but he turned them both away as convincingly and skillfully as anyone could have predicted.

Nat Gottlieb: Adonis Stevenson.

Stevenson fought three times on HBO this year and won every fight by knockout. His rare, one-punch KO power excited the boxing world and created a new star. While Gennady Golovkin was a prime contender, the nod here goes to Stevenson because he fought better competition. It wasn't Golovkin's fault, of course. Just that the top middleweights didn't want any part of fighting him; he was that scary.

Tim Smith: Gennady Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin was one of the busiest boxers in the business in 2013, fighting four times – three of them on HBO. There are keep-busy fights and fights that propel a boxer into the elite class, and all of Golovkin's matches launched him toward stardom.

Hamilton Nolan: Gennady Golovkin

Everyone who was paying close attention knew that Golovkin was the real deal before this year. But this year, everyone, period, learned that Golovkin is the real deal. He is the most feared fighter in boxing, with good reason. Someone please make Andre Ward fight this man before they both get old.

Michael Gluckstadt: Timothy Bradley

He might not be an exciting new face, but Timothy Bradley had two of the most impressive wins of anyone fighting on HBO this year. His willingness to engage Ruslan Provodnikov in a fierce battle may not have been the safest strategy, but the resilience and bravery he showcased while fighting (through a concussion, no less) is indelible to fans of the sport. Following it up with a well-fought victory against Juan Manuel Marquez -- the guy who beat the guy Bradley "beat" – cements his case as the year's best HBO fighter.

HBO Boxing's Best For 2013

Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

The schedule is set for HBO Boxing's Best for 2013. 

Over the course of five consecutive nights in December, HBO2 will present 10 of the year's biggest fights, featuring the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Timother Bradley Jr., Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, and more.

The Best Of series kicks off on Monday, December 23 at 11:00 PM ET/PT, with a back-to-back feature of Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II and Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly. 

Revisit the most memorable fights of 2013 with the full schedule below.

(Winners names in italics)

 

Monday, December 23 at 11:00 p.m.

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II

Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly

Tuesday, December 24 at 11:00 p.m.

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

Wednesday, December 25 at 11:00 p.m.

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin

Thursday, December 26 at 11:00 p.m.

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

Adonis Stevenson vs. Chad Dawson

Friday, December 27 at 11:00 p.m.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia

 

Which fight was your favorite? Let us know in the comments or at @HBOBoxing on Twitter.

 

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.