A few years ago Gennady Golovkin was excellent but obscure. But thanks to a 17-fight knockout streak, a .900 knockout percentage that is the best among middleweight champions and plenty of TV exposure in the U.S., "GGG" is a top-shelf attraction who is knocking on the door of the pound-for-pound lists.
As of late Golovkin has raised the level of opposition but the results have been the same -- KO 8 Curtis Stevens, KO 7 Osumanu Adama and KO 3 Daniel Geale. On Saturday he will face a tough 66-fight veteran in Marco Antonio Rubio, who boasts 52 knockouts in 59 victories and has won six straight since his last loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Will Golovkin further extend his KO string or will Rubio give the champ a taste of his own medicine?
Statistical factors that may prove vital in terms of the outcome include:
Diverse Destruction: Golovkin's deep amateur pedigree and multi-layered style enables him to win in a variety of ways. He can put them away quickly -- 16 of his 27 knockouts have occurred within three rounds -- he can overwhelm them with extreme volume (avg'd 72 punches thrown per round in last 6 fights- middle avg.: 56) , wreck them with withering accuracy (landed 44% of his power punches in last 6- middle avg.: 38%), grind them to dust with steady punishment or flatten them with a single punch. GGG's 11 landed jabs per round ranks #1 among current championship caliber fighters. (tied with Malignaggi). GGG's +16 ranking on the CompuBox plus/minus leaders list ranks #3 (tied with Santa Cruz) and second only to Mayweather's +25 and Lara's +17.
His last several fights have showcased all these methods but the common denominator are the letters listed after the opponents' names -- KO.
The win over Geale was of the one-punch variety. His movement managed to limit Golovkin's accuracy (29% overall, 25% jabs, 33% power) and his smarts allowed him to land a higher percentage of his power shots (38%), but in the end Golovkin's jab (7.7 connects per round) and supreme power was the difference. He out-landed Geale 56-40 overall and 23-7 jabs but though they tied at 33 in power connects each of the Kazakh's connects carried far more impact.
The Adama outing was methodical but effective. Averaging 65.5 punches per round, Golovkin jabbed well (28.4 thrown/7.1 connects per round) to set up knockdowns in rounds one, six and seven. He out-landed Adama 128-44 overall, 46-17 jabs and 82-27 power and while he wasn't as precise as usual (30% overall, 25% jabs, 34% power) he was tough to catch for a risk-taking fighter (12% overall, 7% jabs, 20% power).
The Curtis Stevens bout was Golovkin at his very best. His 99.2 punch-per-round attack was diverse (51.2 jabs/13.5 connects; 47.6 power/23.1 connects) and crushing (293-97 overall, 108-23 jabs, 185-74 power; 37% overall, 26% jabs, 49% power). Stevens, though limited to 37.9 punches per round, still managed to land his share (32% overall, 20% jabs, 39% power) but in the last three rounds Golovkin prevailed 156-40 overall and 110-35 power, including a 71 of 144 round in the eighth (56 of 101 power) that persuaded Stevens to stay on his stool. The 144 punches in the seventh were the third most ever recorded by CompuBox in a middleweight fight and the 71 connects trailed only Mike McCallum's 93 in round five vs. Nicky Walker in 1991.
The Matthew Macklin bout showed both Golovkin's short-term devastation (KO 3) and his tremendous precision even when his volume drops off. Averaging 47.3 punches per round, Golovkin landed 50% overall, 48% jabs and 52% power while taking just 25% overall, 11% jabs and 38% power.
Golovkin's stylistic and statistical package presents a formidable challenge to the Mexican strong man, but will his height, reach and threatening punch be enough to win?
Third Time's the Charm?: Rubio failed in his two previous title shots against Kelly Pavlik (KO by 9) and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (L 12) but both of those foes were willowy-framed fighters who preferred to brawl. Golovkin is shorter and stockier, which, in turn, presents little mystery as to his strategy -- get inside and bang for as long as the fight lasts. Rubio has a 3-4, (3 ko's) record against the seven current/former champs he's faced. 56 of his 66 fights (85%) ended by KO (52 ko’s, ko by 4x)
Since Golovkin must come inside to inflict his damage, Rubio must box at long range to limit those opportunities. That's the strategy Rubio employed in his most recent fight against Italian veteran Dominico Spada. Rubio's constant movement and Spada's high guard limited both men's accuracy (16%-16% overall, 7%-6% Spada in jabs, 29%-20% Rubio in power) as well as their output (47.7 per round for Rubio, 42.5 for Spada). Rubio's jab was anemic (26.6 thrown/1.5 connects per round) but in the end his power was ferocious as a hook to the jaw sent Spada heavily to the canvas and prompted referee John Schorle to stop his count at two. Rubio did just enough to win every round and the final numbers (76-68 overall, 15-10 jabs, 61-58 power) were far closer than the official scorecards in Rubio's favor (90-79, 89-80, 88-81). Then again, the fight was staged in Mexico.
Against lesser competition Rubio's talents were more than enough. In seven CompuBox-tracked fights against seven non-champs Rubio averaged 51.2 punches per round to their 38.9 and landed 40% of his power shots to their 37%. But against Chavez, Pavlik and
Kassim Ouma Rubio stepped up his volume to 61.1 per round but landed at a far lower percentage (19% overall, 15% jabs, 21% power) while his foes threw more (68.7 per round) and landed more (27% overall, 20% jabs, 32% power) en route to two decisions and a ninth-round TKO. Rubio is stepping up again, and at 34 he's no longer a youngster.
Prediction: Rubio will smartly use his height and reach to put distance between himself and Golovkin but over time GGG will reduce the gap, then systematically destroy his foe. It doesn't help Rubio's cause that four of his six defeats have come by KO, and the guess here is that Golovkin will become the fifth man to stop Rubio sometime during the middle rounds.