Sergio Martinez's one-sided loss to Miguel Cotto confirmed something many experts suspected was already true: Gennady Golovkin was the best 160-pound boxer on earth. But last October against Marco Antonio Rubio at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., "GGG" proved that he may also be the most popular as he drew a record crowd of 9,323, surpassing attendances of such fights as Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov, Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado I and Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez II.
Best yet, Golovkin fulfilled every expectation by blowing out Rubio in 4 minutes 19 seconds to register his 18th consecutive knockout. He quickly is becoming a pound-for-pound fighter not only in terms of talent but also in drawing power, both live and on TV.
The main complaint of critics is Golovkin's level of opposition but the record of his last five opponents was a combined 165-18-1 (.897), a more than respectable figure. Also, Golovkin's opponent on Saturday, Briton Martin Murray, boasts a 29-1-1 mark with the only blemishes being a hotly disputed loss to Sergio Martinez and an even more disputed draw against Felix Sturm in middleweight title fights staged in the champions' home countries.
Will the monster of the middleweight division continue his swath of destruction or will Murray prove that the third title shot indeed is the charm? Statistical factors that may determine the outcome include:
Choose Your Poison: Most knockout punchers have one distinctive weapon or method by which they end their fights. Tommy Hearns, Rocky Marciano and Danny Lopez had their right crosses while Joe Frazier, David Tua and Oscar de la Hoya wielded devastating left hooks. Golovkin, on the other hand, bears a resemblance to versatile knockout punchers like Alexis Arguello, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, whose armories were so diverse that opponents can't hone in on a single danger point but rather be forced to account for everything. Statistically speaking, Golovkin's results are consistent -- he's accurate and the final result reads "KO."
Golovkin can put foes away quickly -- 17 of his 28 knockouts have occurred within three rounds -- tear them up with high volume, slice them up with precision, grind them to dust with sustained punishment or end their misery with a single punch. No matter where the Golovkin Wheel of Misfortune lands, the end result is painful defeat.
His last two fights against Marco Antonio Rubio and Daniel Geale were of the one-punch variety. Rubio's slowness and lack of defense enabled GGG to land 45% of his total punches, 38% of his jabs and 52% of his power shots while taking just 28% overall, 22% jabs and 32% power, good numbers for someone who averaged 69.2 punches per round (well above the 56.1 middleweight norm).
Meanwhile, Murray will likely adopt some aspects of Geale's approach as his movement limited Golovkin's accuracy to 29% overall, 25% jabs, 33% power and his intelligence enabled him to land a higher percentage of his power shots (38%). Geale's downfall occurred because of Golovkin's jab (7.7 connects per round) and huge power differential.
Also, of the 18 opponents who fell to Golovkin since June 2008, former 154-pound titlist Kassim Ouma, a southpaw volume-puncher with a difficult-to-solve style -- lasted the longest: 10 rounds. He nearly matched Golovkin's work rate (96.6 punches per round to GGG's 102.4), managed to out-jab him 65-30 (he threw 35.2 per round to Golovkin's 28.1) and held his accuracy down to 27% overall, 11% jabs and 34% power. Because he lasted so long, Ouma swept all 12 categories of opponent success: In round four he threw the most punches ever thrown at Golovkin (120), landed the most (38) and went 33 of 88 in power shots. He landed 11 of 60 jabs in round one, landed 225 of 932 punches, 65 of 340 jabs and 160 of 592 power shots.
GGG has compiled a +16 rating in his last seven fights- tied for #2 with Erislandy Lara and trailing only Floyd Mayweather (+25). GGG landed 39% of his total punches, while opponents landed just 23% of theirs- 8% lower than the weight class avg. Golovkin landed 11 jabs per round- #1 among active championship caliber fighters. and double the wgt. class avg. His 27 landed punches per round/70 thrown trail only Leo Santa Cruz at 30/78.
If Murray can apply some of those elements into his fight plan, he may lay the groundwork for something special. Then again, Ouma did end up like everyone else; it just took a lot longer to get there.
The Heartbreak Kid: Murray's blemishes against Martinez and Sturm weren't the result of poor stats; in fact he out-performed both as he out-landed Martinez 160-134 overall and 128-87 power while also landing a higher percentage (29%-23% overall, 16.5%-15.8% jabs, 36%-30% power) and scoring one official knockdown that should have been two. Against Sturm, Murray out-threw him (88.4 per round to 52.6), landed more (258-182 overall and 184-90 power to off-set Sturm's 92-74 jab connect lead) and was far more aggressive in his punch selection (46.6 power punch attempts per round to Sturm's 15.8). But because he fought champions in Germany (Sturm) and Argentina (Martinez) and because he's more boxer than puncher he didn't get the benefit of the doubt.
At his best, Murray is a workmanlike boxer who operates best at long range, who prefers a moderate pace and who seeks to limit his opponents' output. His decision win against Max Bursak was such a fight; he averaged 52.4 punches per round to Bursak's 36.9, out-landed him 175-72 overall, 21-6 jabs and 154-66 power and was more precise in all categories (28%-16% overall, 8%-4% jabs and 42%-24% power). He won 119-109 on two cards and 117-112 on the other.
When faced with aggression, as was the case in his most recent fight against Italian veteran Domenico Spada, Murray adjusts his work rate accordingly so that his preferred statistical gaps are maintained. Murray averaged 78.9 punches per round to Spada's 50, including 36.6 jabs per round to Spada's 19.9, and out-landed him 126-80 overall, 28-10 jabs and 98-70 power. An accidental butt in round seven cut Spada's right eye to end the fight, and when the cards were added up two judges recognized Murray's ring generalship (69-63, 68-63) while the third gave more credit to Spada's aggression (67-66 for Murray). Murray surely will face an aggressive beast in Golovkin and his only hope will be to box, box and box some more in the hopes that he'll ride out the early wave and score enough points to score the monstrous upset.
Prediction: As Sugar Ray Leonard told Hagler during his famed "retirement" announcement: "Unfortunately, it's never going to happen." Golovkin is a masterfully schooled boxer-puncher who not only has great offense but above average defense (22% total, 14% jabs, 28% power in 13 CompuBox-tracked fights). Also, the difference in punching power is as severe as it gets and the 32-year-old Murray is only four months younger. Murray is good but Golovkin is rushing headlong toward great.
English musician Paul Hardcastle's anti-war song "19" hit number one on the UK charts in 1985 and on Saturday Golvokin's unique brand of warfare will enable him to score his own version of 19 -- his 19th consecutive knockout.