Geale Looks to Spoil the Legend of GGG

Photos: Will Hart/Ed Mulholland

Photos: Will Hart/Ed Mulholland

By Eric Raskin

"Right now, I don't see a weakness in Gennady Golovkin."

That was former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones' answer to the question of what weaknesses Daniel Geale, the next opponent of the Kazakh sensation known as "GGG," might look to exploit. And Jones' comment speaks to the general perception of Golovkin: In less than two years of fighting on American television, he has fashioned a reputation as the most ducked, most feared, most dangerous, least flawed boxer in the sport today. No man is invincible, of course. But an aura of invincibility goes a long way, and GGG has managed to cloak himself in one on par with anything since the prime of Mike Tyson.

Geale is a world-class middleweight fighter, a solid opponent in every respect. He has never been knocked out, has only lost twice -- by split decision each time -- and carries himself with a quiet confidence. Against anyone else at 160 pounds, from Peter Quillin to Martin Murray to the reigning lineal champ Miguel Cotto, the Aussie would be given a reasonable chance at victory. But against Golovkin on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, nobody is picking Geale.

It's not a sign of disrespect toward Geale. It's a measure of the remarkable rate of growth of the Golovkin myth.

We use the word "myth" not because Golovkin's talents are in any way a work of fiction, but rather because the perception has moved ahead of the proof. That's the lone knock on GGG: That his opposition thus far has been a series of B-listers. But what he's done against that opposition? It's enough to make your eyes bug out.

Golovkin's 16 straight knockouts on his record of 29-0 with 26 KOs speaks to his power, but that's only half of what makes him the most buzzed-about fighter in the game. According to CompuBox stats, his plus/minus (difference between his connect percentage and that of his opponents) is the second best in the sport behind only Floyd Mayweather; he's number one in all of boxing in jabs landed per round with more than double the CompuBox average; and he ranks fifth in opponents' connect percentage, behind only recognized defensive standouts Guillermo Rigondeaux, Mayweather, Anselmo Moreno, and Erislandy Lara. The suggestion is that Golovkin is just as skilled as a boxer as he is lethal as a puncher.

Again, his quality of opposition (largely a function of the next best middleweights not seeing the point in facing him) is the caveat to all of the statistics. But you look at the numbers and the highlight-reel knockouts and you get why nobody gives Geale a chance. Unless you're talking about the chance that he'll extend Golovkin further than anyone else has yet.

"Danny possesses the ability to go 12 rounds," acknowledged GGG's trainer Abel Sanchez, "and I think that is going to be the big issue -- to see if [Golovkin] can control a man and dominate a man that is used to going 12 rounds."

The only other time Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) fought in America, 11 months ago in Atlantic City, he went those 12 rounds and dropped a split decision to Darren Barker. Of all Golovkin's knockouts, probably the most oft-replayed has been his bodyshot stoppage of Matthew Macklin; against Barker, Geale showed that he is no slouch in the body-banging department, coming about a half-second away from a sixth-round knockout. It's a performance Geale is hoping to build on, and one he knows he needs to do better than if he's to topple the monster that is GGG.

"The Barker fight was frustrating -- knocking him down in the sixth and not getting the decision," the 33-year-old Geale said. "But you have to take it on the chin and come back from that. I didn't dwell on it too long... I want to fight the best fighters and I want to win some titles and there is only one way to do that. You have to get in there and test yourself against the best fighters in the world."

So how does Geale turn this into a test for Golovkin instead of just a test for himself?

"I'd tell him to make the fight an ugly fight," suggested HBO analyst Jones. "Don't fight him at close quarters. Try to get Golovkin disinterested in the fight. Don't let him make contact and don't make contact with him when he wants to, because if he can lure you into a slug-out, that's what he wants. Golovkin knows he's stronger, he's more powerful, he's quicker; he's just an exceptional fighter and an exceptional boxer. He has so much experience and he's so good at what he does that he doesn't mind gambling against anybody. But a guy like Geale can't afford to gamble with him because he'll hurt Geale. Geale has to be smart and make it tactical in an ugly way."

Golovkin and Geale actually fought as amateurs way back in 2001, in the finals of the East Asian Games. Golokvin won, and though Geale acknowledges the memories are a touch fuzzy, he thinks GGG dropped him in the fight.

Golovkin was asked last week where his prodigious power comes from. "It comes from hard work every day on my speed and my timing coming all together for the power," he responded. "The timing is very important. I am not a body builder—it is natural power, it's original."

GGG thought he was going to put that power to use against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on this date, but the fight couldn't be finalized and Golovkin had to settle to for something a little lower profile (even if Geale is a more proven, decorated professional than Chavez). Could Golovkin have a letdown after coming so close to signing for a major pay-per-view? Could he be at all rusty after a layoff of almost six months, his longest since 2011? Could he lose focus as a result of headlining in MSG's "big room" for the first time?

Geale had better hope the answer to at least one of those questions is yes, because a full-strength, on-point Golovkin is looking close to unbeatable these days. There's a reason so many of the best fighters from 154-168 pounds are reluctant to face him. Geale is hoping to show us there's a reason he's decided to be an exception to that rule.

HBO Boxing Podcast - Episode 14 - Golovkin vs. Geale Preview

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney break down the upcoming middleweight showdown between Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Geale.

Shiming Tested But Stays Unbeaten

Photo Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Photo Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

By Nat Gottlieb

It seems fitting that Zou Shiming has fought all five of his fights in a casino. After all, everybody knows the house always wins.

Shiming, the two-time Olympic gold medal winner from China, is as close as you can get to a “sure thing” at this point in his career. That’s because his promoter, Top Rank, so far hasn’t gambled much with its Asian-market golden boy. Although Shiming’s opponents have gradually gotten better, none so far were expected to present much of a risk to him. That included Saturday’s opponent, Luis De La Rosa (23-4-1, 13 KOs), a Colombian fighter so obscure that BoxRec doesn’t even list his age, height, or reach.

But De La Rosa proved to be a lot more than just another designated notch on Shiming’s belt. Fighting out of a tight defense, with gloves high by his head and elbows tucked in, De La Rosa didn’t present much of a target for Shiming to hit. In fact, the aggressive Colombian flyweight’s fast hands hit Shiming more than had been tagged in his previous four professional fights.

De La Rosa, despite absorbing an accidental head butt in the 5th round that opened up a constantly bleeding cut over his left eye, took Shiming the distance in the Chinese boxer’s first 10-round fight. The Colombian certainly got in his shots, but it was clear from the start that Shiming’s superior boxing skills were winning virtually every round.

The decision was never in doubt. The judges’ scorecards at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena were unanimous for Shiming: 99-91 twice, and 97-93.

Shiming’s strategy was obvious from the start. Working behind a crisp jab, the 5-foot-5 Shiming would pop in, fire a sharp two-punch combo, then pop out, using good body and head movement to avoid a counter-punch. Shiming landed several clean shots in virtually every round, but they didn’t seem to have much effect on the Colombian, nor did they deter him from repeatedly coming forward and setting the pace.

Shiming, working with elite American trainer, Freddie Roach, looked like a much more professional boxer than we had seen in his first four fights. But despite the fact Roach had said he worked hard with the Chinese fighter to set down more on his punches, there remains a question about just how much power his fighter has. Especially after Shiming landed many solid punches that didn’t appear to have much effect on his opponent. Can that be excused by the Colombian having an exceptional chin? Judging by De La Rosa’s record, you’d have to say no. In his three prior losses, De La Rosa was knocked out twice.

On the flip side, it would appear that Shiming himself has a good chin, something that bodes well for future fights when he steps up in class. With his defense lapsing at times, Shiming got tagged in the head several times by the Colombian, but never looked any worse for wear. Except for a slightly swollen right jaw near the end, Shiming didn’t have a mark on him.

Fans of the Chinese icon flocked to the casino to cheer him on, and other than failing to knock out De La Rosa, he didn’t disappoint them. It was a very good action fight, thanks in no small part to De La Rosa’s game spirit and heart. Simply put: The Shiming fans came for a show, and they got one. It could only have been encouraging to them that despite having the decision in hand entering the 10th round, Shiming didn’t play it safe. He went toe-to-toe with the Colombian in what was probably the best round of the fight.

There was some talk before this bout that Shiming’s next fight would be for a world flyweight title. But based on this one, it doesn’t appear he’s ready yet to step in the ring with the top guns in the division. Considering Shiming has only had five pro fights, that’s understandable. The key question going forward will be how much power Roach can put into Shiming’s punches. At 33, Shiming doesn’t have as much time left as some younger fighting prospects. If nothing else, however, Roach has helped Shiming learn quickly to switch to a more professional style. But at this point in time, Shiming remains a talented work in progress.

In the co-feature, Mexico’s hottest prospect, super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez, continued to make a strong impression. It took Ramirez (29-0, 23 KOs) only about two minutes in the first round to annihilate Junior Talipeau (20-2-2, 7 KOs). The 23-year-old Ramirez knocked Talipeau down three times in the round and had rendered his opponent defenseless before the ref stopped the fight. Although the bout was short and sweet, the blistering attack of Ramirez will only enhance his credentials as a brutal, entertaining, knockout artist, and perhaps the next great Mexican champion.

 

Zou Shiming Prepares to Take Another Step Forward

Photo: Will Hart

Photo: Will Hart

By Tim Smith

The clock is quickly ticking for Zou Shiming. It started the day the Chinese Olympic gold medal winner turned pro at the age of 32 in April 2013. 

Every fight is a major step up for Zou and his progress is carefully measured by trainer Freddie Roach. Zou (4-0, 1 KOs) will take a giant leap forward when he takes on Luis De La Rosa (23-3-1, 13 KOs) at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in Macau, China on HBO2 on Saturday night.

De La Rosa, a hard-hitting veteran from Barranquilla, Colombia, has fought for the world championship three times, coming up short each time. But he is a tough competitor and has a vast amount of ring experience under his belt. For Zou, it is his first time fighting in a scheduled 10-round match.

Photo: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Photo: Chris Farina - Top Rank

"It may be unusual to move this fast to a 10-round fight but I have confidence in my team and if they think I'm ready, then I will be ready,'' Zou said. "I am not nervous about facing a vastly more experienced fighter like De La Rosa.  I'm very excited about the opportunity.  He is the type of fighter I need to beat to earn a world title shot."

Zou is coming off a seventh round stoppage of Yokthong Kokietgym of Thailand –
his first career stoppage. De La Rosa scored a knockout of his own in the second round against Deivis Narvaez in November. 

"Shiming has come a long way in a very short time,'' Roach said. "I have seen quite a few amateurs take up to four years to learn the pro style.  Shiming has done it in 15 months.  He is getting the pro style of fighting down a lot quicker than previous Olympians I've worked with.  The big difference is now he knows he must increase his lead as opposed to protecting a lead, which is what he was taught as an amateur.''

One thing to keep an eye on in this fight is whether Zou can keep from reverting to his amateur style. Roach has been trying to his charge to stop slapping with his punches and to try to get more leverage on them. 

"The key for Shiming is to hurt De La Rosa early and set a fast pace for the fight after that,'' Roach said. "Shiming's power has really developed.  He has discovered power he never knew he had.  His jab sets up an overhand right that is killer.  He is sitting down on his punches.  His combinations are outstanding.  When he lands his power punches with 112 pounds behind them, Shiming will make his point to De La Rosa that he belongs."                

If he can do that, then his promoter should have the confidence to go ahead and make a championship fight between Zou and Amnat Ruenroeng, the IBF flyweight champion from Thailand, in Macau in November.

***

In the co-feature, Gilberto Ramirez, one of the top young super middleweight contenders in the game, will take on Junior Talipeau (20-2-1, 7 KOs). Ramirez (28-0, 22 KOs) is on a fast-track to stardom, and the fact that he's a power-punching southpaw only adds to his crowd-pleasing style. 

In his last fight, the native of Mazatlan, Mexico blasted veteran brawler Giovanni Lorenzo, stopping him on a fifth round TKO. It was the third consecutive stoppage victory for the 23-year-old Ramirez. Talipeau, a 30-year-old veteran from New South Wales, Australia, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Walter Javier Crucce last August. It was his third straight victory (two by knockout) since being handed a split decision loss by Zac Awad in 2011 – just the second of his career. Talipeau has never been stopped.

HBO Boxing Podcast - Episode 13 - Harold Lederman Interview

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney sit down with Harold Lederman, the unofficial ringside scorer on HBO broadcasts and star of the web series "Hey Harold!" on InsideHBOBoxing.com.

Watch: Gennady Golovkin's Greatest Hits

Watch some of the top moments in the knockout career of rising superstar Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin vs. Geale happens Sat., July 26 at 9:30pm ET/PT on HBO.

HBO Boxing Podcast - Episode 12 - Crawford vs. Gamboa Post-Fight and Mid-Year Awards

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney break down Terence Crawford's thrilling ninth round TKO victory over Yuriorkis Gamboa and hand out the mid-year HBO Boxing Podcast awards.

Watch: Fight Highlights - Crawford vs. Gamboa and Korobov vs. Uzcategui