Garcia Stalks, Walks Down Burgos

by Kieran Mulvaney

Photo: Ed Mulholland

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Three times Juan Carlos Burgos has fought for a world title. Three times he has fallen short. But while he felt aggrieved at the result the last time he fought at the Theater at Madison Square Garden -- when he left the ring twelve months ago with a draw against Rocky Martinez that he and many ringside observers felt should have been a win -- he can have no complaints about the way things ended in the same venue on Saturday night. Despite showing some promise in the early rounds, Burgos was unable to cope with the relentlessness of Mikey Garcia, who won a wide unanimous decision to retain his super featherweight belt.

There is a theory among anthropologists that our earliest ancestors overcame their prey animals by walking them down, by keeping at them without letup for hours and hours and days and days, until they were simply too exhausted to resist. This, in boxing terms, is the essence of Mikey Garcia. He is rarely explosive and isn't one to come charging out of the blocks looking to knock his opponent into next week. He is instead a Terminator, his eyes always fixed on his foe, his feet never out of position, walking forward, probing for weaknesses and gradually breaking his adversary down.

Even when that foe scores some early success -- as Burgos did on Saturday night, landing a big left hook in the second round that buckled Garcia and almost put him down -- Garcia is unperturbed. Instead, he files it away in his mental rolodex, makes sure not to make the same mistake again, and resumes his pursuit.

That is how it unfolded against Burgos. It wasn't always exciting, it wasn't spectacular, but it was ruthlessly effective: Garcia spent a couple of rounds figuring out his foe and deciding how to negate his reach advantage, and once he had done so, he zeroed in and gradually increased the pressure.

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Gennady Golovkin: Boxing’s Best-Kept Secret Is a Secret No More

by Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin - Photo Credit: Top RankThe images were from a variety of venues around the world, the commentary that accompanied them in an assortment of languages. Together, over time, they helped establish the legend of Gennady Golovkin.

Here he was in Ukraine, sending Makoto Fuchigami reeling backward, dropping him in a corner and then teeing off on him against the ropes, opening a cut over his right eye before the referee stopped in to halt the contest in the third round.

There he was in Germany, landing a short left hook to drop the previously-unstopped Lajuan Simon to his back for the count in the very opening frame.

Up he popped in Panama, where veteran Kassim Ouma took him into deeper water but as a consequence only suffered a more prolonged beating, his face becoming lumpy and misshapen until finally he was rescued from Golovkin’s fists in the tenth.

And then there was the amateur footage from the 2003 World Championships in Thailand, when wearing a headguard wasn’t enough to prevent future world champion Lucian Bute from being separated from his senses by a single vicious Golovkin right hand.

Taken together, they created something of an underground legend, of a Kazakh-born, German-based middleweight who arguably sometimes got hit a little bit more than perhaps he should, but who rarely had to worry about being troubled by incoming artillery because his own ammunition was so destructive.

And then, suddenly, the cat was out of the bag.

His HBO debut, in September last year, was well-deserved. And it promised to be a competitive outing: his opponent, Grzegorz Proksa, was a once-beaten, never-dropped European middleweight champion, who had avenged his one majority decision loss with a TKO victory. He entered as the underdog against Golovkin, but a live one; he at least would likely not be blown away by the Kazakh-born fighter the way so many before him had been.

And then the bell rang. Proksa was down in the first. He was down in the fourth. He was down again in the fifth, face-first this time, and although he hailed himself to his feet he was in no position to continue.

On January 19 Golovkin is back in the United States, and back on HBO, this time against Gabriel Rosado. Rosado, like Proksa, is a solid, highly-regarded fighter. He is on an impressive winning streak. He too is talking confidently of defeating Golovkin.

But as all 24 previous opponents have found, it is one thing to be confident against Golovkin before stepping into the ring. It is another thing entirely when the punches bounce off his iron chin and his own blows detonate with concussive impact. That is the challenge that Rosado will face on January 19.

And that’s no secret.

Martirosyan and Lara Lead a Night of Fights with Potential to Shake Up Divisions

by Hamilton Nolan

Vanes Martirosyan, Erislandy Lara

Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan (32-0) has all the outward signifiers of a champion. He’s trained by Freddie Roach. He was a 2004 Olympian. He’s undefeated. He’s a long-armed and athletic puncher, he moves well, and uses his reach to his advantage. His only problem is that in a seven-year career, he hasn’t yet gotten around to fighting anyone he could brag about beating. With Erislandy Lara, he has finally signed on for a bout against an excellent fighter. And he may well regret it.

It’s not as if Martirosyan hasn’t beaten anyone decent. He whipped rugged local New York favorite Joe Greene at Yankee Stadium in 2010. He’s decisioned the tricky Kassim Ouma, and TKO’d the old warhorse Saul Roman. But Vanes has earned the reputation of loudly challenging top fighters, and then failing to sign the line to actually make the fights happen. He has at times appeared willing to waste his prime years on mediocre competition. There’s no better proof of that than the fact that his last two fights -- at the height of his reputation, when he’s been mentioned as a legitimate opponent for the top 154-pounders in the world -- have been against Richard Gutierrez and Troy Lowry. For someone of Martirosyan’s talents, that amounts to taking a year off.