By Gordon Marino
Gennady Golovkin is the Clark Kent of boxing. With thin legs and the tapered body of an elite swimmer, there is nothing about the Kazakhstan native that would belie the Superman-like punching power that has made for his remarkable streak of 22 straight knockouts.
True, “GGG” has naturally heavy hands, but the secret of his preternatural punching prowess is grounded in his supreme technique and impeccable balance.
A calm but relentless attacking machine, Golovkin always keeps his weight over center. Although he is always coming in and igniting combinations, he avoids pitching forward and losing the torque on his shots. GGG is surgical at cutting off the ring, but once he has his foe in range he does not smother his power by getting in too close and taking away the space to punch. In over 350 amateur contests and 34 professional bouts, Golovkin has yet to say hello to the canvas. Confidence in his neural circuitry and in his ability to end a fight with one swipe enables the middleweight champ to sit down on his punches.
Like a home run hitter, Golovkin is able to bring his upper and lower body into perfect sync so as to transmit the strength in his well-conditioned pins into his mitts. When he turns his body into his short signature left hook, the blow comes as quick and smoothly as a door slamming shut in the wind.
Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez, said, “One of the things that I love most about Gennady is that he does not get drunk on his power. He is very patient. He cuts off the ring and comes in behind the jab.”
There is more to GGG’s fine art of destruction. Supreme boxing masters do not switch back and forth between offense and defense. Their gloved game is seamless. They punch while catching punches. That is GGG. In his 2014 stoppage of Daniel Geale, you can glimpse Golovkin getting tagged as he lands the right that puts Geale to bed.
Sanchez said, “Gennady has been knocking people out with the left hook lately, but his right is the more powerful punch.” Unlike a lot of big bangers with a Suzie Q of a right, GGG usually whips his power hand in a looping trajectory in something between a straight right and right hook. The little extra arc makes his right more explosive and brings it around the high guard that most of his opponents adopt once they get a taste of Golovkin’s howitzer-like shots.
In 2013, Matthew Macklin had his boxing ambitions caved in by a Golovkin left hook to the liver. Reflecting on his defeat, Macklin explained that standing in front of a fighter who can deliver Golovkin’s packages of pain produces both panicky mistakes and premature exhaustion.
Golovkin uses his mental muscle to deliver those packages. Sanchez observed, “Gennady has a couple of different uppercuts but he doesn’t use them to knock people out. He uses a left uppercut with his palm facing out to come down the middle with and open a guy up.”
Sanchez continued, “Gennady uses the right uppercut primarily to set up the body shot; he is not really trying to land it. He just wants to freeze the guy, bring the guy’s arms in and then land his best punch, the left hook to the body!”