Gennady Golovkin Adds Heat to Simmering Middleweight Division

by Eric Raskin
Gennady Golovkin, Grezgorz Proksa - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With his speedy, shifty, hands-below-the-waist southpaw style, Grezgorz Proksa prompted HBO analyst Max Kellerman to declare during the first round of his fight with Gennady Golovkin that he was “doing a pretty fair Sergio Martinez impersonation.” So Golovkin went out and did a pretty fair impersonation of a guy Martinez might want to steer clear of.

Making his American debut and his HBO debut amid passionate hype from the YouTube-scouring hardcore boxing community, the Kazakhstan-born, Germany-based Golovkin did not disappoint. He knocked down the brave but overmatched Proksa three times in five rounds at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, prompting a perfectly timed stoppage at the 1:11 mark of the fifth from referee Charlie Fitch.

 A few hours earlier in Germany, Daniel Geale upset Felix Sturm to unify a couple of alphabet belts at 160 pounds. In two weeks, Martinez will defend the lineal title against another beltholder, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The best are fighting the best right now at middleweight. And Golovkin now must be considered among the best and a viable option for the Martinez-Chavez victor.

The Eastern Europeans Are Coming

by Kiearn Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin

It wasn’t so long ago that arguably the most famous boxer to emerge from east of what used to be the Iron Curtain was the fictional Ivan Drago, who battered Apollo Creed to death and famously promised Rocky Balboa that, “I must break you.” That was 27 years and a Cold War ago, and today the situation is very different.

As on the silver screen in 1985, the most intimidating heavyweight in the world is from what was then the Soviet Union, although whether that honor should be bestowed upon Vitali Klitschko or his brother Wladimir is open for discussion. Poland’s Tomasz Adamek won world titles at light heavyweight and cruiserweight before stepping up a division and succumbing bravely to the much larger Vitali; taking his place in the 200-pound division are compatriot Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and German-based Bosniak Marco Huck. One division down, Kazakhstan’s Beibut Shumenov owns a world title belt, and at super middleweight the belt holders include Armenian Arthur Abraham and Hungarian Karoly Balszay.

The Central European presence continues at middleweight and junior middleweight, where three of the division’s best will be introduced to American audiences on HBO on Saturday night.

At least one of them may be familiar to US viewers, although Sergiy Dzinziruk’s HBO debut did not exactly go as planned when he was stopped in eight rounds by middleweight champion Sergio Martinez last March. Prior to that contest, he had not lost as a professional, nor tasted the canvas; Martinez dropped him five times and handed him his first defeat, and the Ukrainian will be looking to get back in the winning column when he drops back to his favored junior middleweight division on Saturday. The task ahead of him isn’t an easy one, however: His opponent is undefeated Puerto Rican prospect Jonathan Gonzalez, and Dzinziruk will need to combat age and inactivity as well as his youthful, powerful, body-punching foe.

That bout is Saturday’s co-main event; the main event should be a doozy. British-based Pole Grzegorz Proksa was much-hyped until he suffered a disappointing points defeat to England’s Kerry Hope last year; since then, he has won two in a row, including a stoppage win over Hope in which he regained his European title. But he, too, faces an uphill struggle on Saturday in the form of undefeated Kazakh wrecking ball Gennady Golovkin.

There’s nothing fancy about Golovkin. Nobody will ever mistake him for a Central European Pernell Whitaker. But he can fight, plowing forward steadily and relentlessly, and thumping and crumpling opponents with punches that don’t appear to have a great deal of torque but are evidently punctuated with fists of stone. Some of his foes, like veteran Kassim Ouma, last until late in the contest; most of them are summarily dispatched in the first few rounds.

Proksa will be looking to buck that trend, and the clash between his free-swinging style and Golovkin’s human tank assault should be one to savor. Hopefully, it will leave American viewers wanting to see more fighters from east of the Rhine. Which would be a good thing, because there are a lot more of them still to see.

Is Golovkin’s Power Enough to Provoke Upheaval?

by Hamilton Nolan


The middleweight division -- once you get past its two glamorous box office stars, Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. -- is blessed with a large quantity of quality, solid, powerful fighters. And it is cursed by the fact that many of them are Eastern European, making them difficult to market to the North American market. One of these men has the potential to make everyone forget their standard geographic prejudices and take notice: Gennady Golovkin.

At 30 years old, Golovkin (23-0) is too old to be labeled a prospect. He bears a greater honor: the most avoided middleweight fighter in the world. Since medaling in the 2004 Olympics for Kazakhstan, Golovkin has been unable to entice anyone with a bigger name than Kassim Ouma to take him on, despite clearly possessing world class talent and the potential to become a pound-for-pound fighter, should he ever get the chance to prove himself against the division's best. Golovkin carries his hands high, throws straight punches, and is generally fundamentally sound; he is not flashy, at first glance. But a highlight reel of his victims tells the real tale of his talent: He possesses some of the heaviest hands in boxing. Golovkin packs the sort of deceptive power that often causes his opponents to drop from unspectacular shots, as if they've been hit by a cement block. His kind of power can't be taught. He's dangerous in every moment. His deceptively straightforward style makes him all the more dangerous.

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