In Different Ways, Golovkin and Gonzalez Dominate

Photos: Will Hart

By Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin scored his 22nd straight knockout victory as he blasted overmatched challenger Dominic Wade to the canvas three times inside two rounds at The Forum in Inglewood, California on Saturday night. Wade rose to his feet much more slowly after the second knockdown than he did after the first; after the third, he couldn’t get up at all, referee Jack Reiss counting to 10 just as Wade’s corner climbed the ring apron waving the white towel. The official time was 2:37 of round two. Golovkin improved his record to 35-0 with 32 KOs.

The result was hardly a surprise. Going in, the only question was how long Wade would last, and whether Golovkin would elect to take his time before delivering the coup de grace. This wasn’t necessarily a testament to the perceived haplessness of Wade – although, truthfully, he is hardly going to go down in history as the greatest of world title challengers. But the prefight perception was that there was a massive gulf in class between a boxer who had faced nobody even remotely on the level of a champion who has been knocking over a parade of highly competent challengers with consummate ease.

It did not take long for Wade (18-1, 12 KOs) to look out of his depth, as Golovkin stalked forward behind a stiff jab and almost immediately sought to land a hook off that jab. Wade attempted to return fire with a lengthy jab of his own and even aimed some hooks at Golovkin’s midriff, but he looked understandably uncomfortable in the face of the Golovkin offense. Toward the end of the opening frame, as the two fought in close, Wade aimed a left hand toward the champion, who uncorked a short right hand that landed on Wade’s ear. The man from Washington, DC immediately crumpled to the ground, but was able to beat the count just before the bell rang to end the round.

Golovkin began the second in a mood to search and destroy, and an overhand right to the jaw sent Wade down again. He spent a good long while on his hands and knees, either searching for the strength to rise or asking himself whether he wanted to. He did, eventually, and Reiss spoke to him at some length to confirm he was committed to continuing, but the end came just seconds later. Another right hand flattened Wade along the ropes by Golovkin’s corner, his legs splayed out at drunken angles, and that was the end of the challenger’s night.

Credit is due to Wade for taking the fight, and Golovkin can only fight who is put in front of him. And, truth be told, the crowd of 16,353 didn’t seem to feel at sll short changed by the one-sided whupping they had just witnessed. Still, Golovkin’s plea for a worthy challenger continues to be a plaintive one, although he was all smiles afterward as he told HBO’s Max Kellerman that, “of course I need big name or big fight to please the fans.” The obvious name and fight is against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, who holds one of the middleweight belts, is the lineal champion after defeating Miguel Cotto last year, and faces Amir Khan in Las Vegas on May 7. Asked if he had a message for the Mexican, Golovkin said simply, “Give me my belt. I need my belt.”

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While Golovkin’s knockout streak continued, that of Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez came to an end after a stretch of ten consecutive stoppages thanks to an impressively resilient effort by flyweight challenger McWilliams Arroyo. Puerto Rican Arroyo (16-3, 14 KOs) rarely looked likely to defeat the consensus pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, but he at no stage wilted under Chocolatito’s trademark relentless assault and showed no hesitation in standing in front of his vaunted foe and trading punches. Still, the three judges’ scorecards of 119-109 (twice) and 120-108 accurately reflected the Nicaraguan’s domination over a foe who might well have beaten any other flyweight on this night.

As was the case in his last outing, against Brian Viloria, Gonzalez had a relatively quiet first couple of rounds, as Arroyo worked behind a stiff jab and looked for a home for his left hook. Suddenly, about two-thirds of the way through the second round, Gonzalez, as if having sized up his foe to his satisfaction, sprang to life.

A left hook knocked Arroyo backward in that second round, and Gonzalez began to steam forward. Arroyo fought him off, but the narrative was already being set: round after round, Gonzalez would keep stepping forward, firing a fusillade of punches from all angles, punishing Arroyo’s body and then switching upstairs with lefts and rights; Arroyo would fire back when Gonzalez took a breath, but then the champion would resume his assault.

The Puerto Rican’s cause was hardly helped when the soles of both his shoes fell apart in the fourth round, requiring some emergency taping in the corner, and it looked for a while afterward as if Arroyo might fall apart too. But he gathered himself and sought to turn back the incoming tide as best he could. The problem was that his offense was limited mostly to left hooks, and his punches were relatively slow; Chocolatito’s in contrast never stopped coming in a blur, the suffocating pressure they brought constantly driving Arroyo backward.

It says even more for Arroyo’s performance that Gonzalez (45-0, 39 KOs) was not exactly phoning it in. Round after round, he sprang out of the blocks determined to attack Arroyo’s head and torso, and in seemingly every one of those rounds there was a moment when Arroyo looked staggered or hurt and was forced to retreat to a corner or the ropes. Yet, every time he looked on the verge of wilting, he found another reserve of energy; and over the final couple of rounds, he exchanged hooks with the champion in an impressive finale from both men.

Gonzalez threw an incredible 1,132 total punches, landing 360, for a 32 percent connect rate; 311 of those landed blows were power punches. Gonzalez threw 26 more punches for power alone (737) than Arroyo did in total.

“It was a very difficult fight,” Gonzalez insisted. “McWilliams moves very well and he was able to avoid the punches. I wanted to fight and brawl and counter but it was difficult because he moves quite a bit and was hard to hit.”