HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney goes one-on-one with Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Geale before the two face off Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin vs. Geale happens Saturday at 9:30 PM ET/PT on HBO:
HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney goes one-on-one with Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Geale before the two face off Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin vs. Geale happens Saturday at 9:30 PM ET/PT on HBO:
Miguel Cotto, thanks to his sensational KO win over Sergio Martinez, may be the lineal middleweight champion of the world but most experts believe WBA titlist Gennady Golovkin is the best 160-pound boxer walking the earth. His .897 KO percentage is the best among 160-pound champions in boxing history and he comes into Saturday's fight with former IBF king Daniel Geale on a 16-fight knockout string.
One can make the case that Geale may well be the best fighter Golovkin has yet faced. The aborigine from Australia sports fast hands, quick feet, sharp combinations and his own championship resume as he won not one, but two middleweight belts via split decision in Germany against German favorites Sebastian Sylvester and Felix Sturm. Also, unlike Golovkin, Geale knows how to pace himself over a long fight, for he holds a 14-0 lead in fights that have gone 11 rounds or more.
Will Geale's quality halt Golovkin's reign of terror or will "GGG" once again stand for "Going, Going, Gone?" GGG, an 8-1 favorite, ranks #2 on CompuBox's plus/minus with a +17 rating, second only to Money Mayweather's +25 rating. His 12 jabs landed per round rank #1 among CompuBox's Categorical Leaders. GGG lands 28 total punches per round, second only to Leo Santa Cruz's 32 landed per round.
Statistical factors that may prove vital in terms of the outcome include:
Pick Your Poison: No matter what the method, Golovkin is a machine bent on ultimate destruction. He can dispose of opponents quickly -- 15 of his 26 knockouts have occurred within three rounds -- he can wreck them with extreme volume, torture them with extraordinary accuracy or grind them down with steady punishment.
His recent fights have showcased all four methods. His last outing against Osumanu Adama (KO 7) was methodical but effective. Averaging 65.5 punches per round, Golovkin worked an effective jab (28.4 thrown/7.1 connects per round) in setting 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 outstandingly elusive for a risk-taking fighter (12% overall, 7% jabs, 20% power).
The Curtis Stevens bout was Golovkin at his 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, held to 37.9 punches per round, still managed to break through from time to time (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 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 his short-term devastation (KO 3) and his tremendous precision 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 versatility presents a tremendous problem for Geale, who will hope his speed and savvy will give the Kazakh enough different looks to throw off his wondrous game.
Changing His Game: In winning titles in Germany against Sylvester and Sturm, Geale squeezed out every possible point by setting a torrid pace (89.8 per round vs. Sylvester, 73.6 vs. Sturm) and creating massive connect bulges (238-143 overall, 182-88 power vs. Sturm; 182-111 overall, 141-52 power vs. Sylvester).
In his three recent fights, however, Geale has jettisoned the volume in favor of accuracy and increased power. In avenging a previous loss to Anthony Mundine, Geale averaged 57.5 punches per round but built connect bulges of 208-141 overall and 147-71 power by landing at a noticeably higher rate (30%-22% overall, 20%-17% jabs, 38%-31% power). In losing his IBF belt to Darren Barker, Geale scored a body-shot knockdown in round six that would have stopped most other fighters and while he was more accurate (37%-34% overall, 25%-17% jabs, 42%-42% power) and produced a stronger 12th round (28-24 overall 25-19 power), Barker's second-half surge helped forge numerical leads of 292-259 overall and 244-211 power as well as the split decision victory.
In pounding Garth Wood during his most recent outing, Geale (who averaged just 42.3 punches per round to Wood's 41) shelved the jab (11.7 thrown/2.0 connects per round), turned aggressive (30.7 power punches thrown/13.7 landed per round) and scored knockdowns in rounds one, five and six in registering the stoppage between rounds six and seven. He out-landed Wood 94-41 overall and 82-29 power, plus he was the far more precise fighter (37%-17% overall, 17%-14% jabs, 45%-18% power).
Prediction: If Geale is to upset Golovkin, he must return to the style that served him so well as an underdog against Sylvester and Sturm -- high volume, peppery combinations and sage movement. Unlike the comedy game show "Whose Line Is It Anyway," the points do matter for Geale. That, however, will only delay the inevitable. Golovkin is at the peak of his powers and Geale doesn't have the physical strength or the one-punch KO power to stop the steamroller. It will take a while, but Golovkin will register his 17th consecutive knockout.
Get to know Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez and preview their upcoming heavyweight showdown.
Golovkin vs. Geale and Jennings vs. Perez happens Sat., July 26 at 9:30pm ET/PT on HBO
HBO Boxing unofficial scorer Harold Lederman on Bryant Jennings vs Mike Perez.
Jennings vs Perez happens Sat., July 26 live on HBO at 9:30pm ET/PT.
HBO Boxing unofficial scorer Harold Lederman on Gennady Golovkin vs Daniel Geale.
Golovkin vs Geale happens Sat., July 26 live on HBO at 9:30pm ET/PT.
By Alex McClintock
With a nearly 90 percent KO rate and endearingly broken English, Kazakhstan's Gennady Golovkin has developed a cult following among boxing fans. By contrast, Daniel Geale, the man he will fight July 26 at Madison Square Garden, flies under the radar even in his native Australia.
"Most people around would say I'm shy," says the 33-year-old. "My wife, she's seen me for a lot of years and she knows how shy I was. She can see how much, especially as a professional, how I've come out of my shell. I'm definitely nowhere near as shy as I used to be."
As much as Geale says he's no longer shy, his bashfulness is a defining feature. He sheepishly searches for words in conversation and is at pains not to come off as overconfident or arrogant.
Everything about Geale is understated: he works closely with his wife Sheena, whom he met when he was nine. He trains in an airy, unintimidating gym in an industrial estate a few minutes from his home in Sydney's working class western suburbs. He drives a white Toyota ute (Australian for pick-up truck).
The Aussie, who is best known to U.S. audiences for his split-decision loss to Darren Barker in 2013, is surprisingly humble for a man who punches people in the face under the lights for a living.
While Geale credits boxing for giving him confidence, he has always played the role of quiet achiever in his professional career. In Australia's domestic boxing scene he has been the yin to Anthony Mundine's brash, trash-talking yang for half a decade. And as much as he would hate to admit it, you can't understand Geale as a boxer without understanding Mundine.
Most famous stateside for his "America's brought it upon themselves" comments in the aftermath of 9/11, Mundine has been an agent provocateur Down Under for nearly 20 years. Walking out of a rugby league career at his athletic peak to take up boxing, he's enjoyed a level of fame that Geale has never managed to approach. All of his fights have been on pay-per-view in Australia, from title bouts with the likes of Mikkel Kessler to lesser contests with journeymen like 43-year-old Bronco McKart.
Geale and Mundine first met in 2009. Mundine, the bigger attraction, won a close, controversial decision over his younger rival in an entertaining fight.
"I learned a lot about myself in that fight," says Geale. "I realized how far I could push myself. I pushed myself hard in that fight. It was a good, tough, entertaining fight. But I also knew that I had more left in me, that I could push harder. Even though I lost the decision, I didn't feel like I was beaten in the fight."
Geale wanted a rematch, Mundine didn't. So Geale got to work, quietly defeating all other domestic challengers before traveling to Germany (against the advice of many) to win a pair of middleweight titles from Sebastian Sylvester and Felix Sturm. Eventually, four years later, Mundine had to offer him another fight.
The rematch, though, was marred by more offensive trash talk from Mundine. He labeled Geale, who identifies as a Tasmanian Aborigine, an "Uncle Tom" and criticized him for marrying a white woman. The comments, coming only a few years after the government apologized for the systematic removal of children from Indigenous families, seemed an unwelcome step backwards in Australia's slow progress on race relations.
Geale won the fight easily, outworking and outboxing his rival, but the bitter taste of Mundine's pre-fight comments stuck in his mouth.
"Unfortunately, that's the way it goes," he sighs. "If you say silly things and do silly things, unfortunately you gain more attention. I guess as a sporting person if you're a little bit quieter and a little bit more reserved, you tend to get overlooked."
Brisbane Times boxing writer Phil Lutton agrees with that assessment, and notes that even today Geale still hasn't achieved Mundine's notoriety at home, despite having achieved more in the ring.
"Obviously, Geale is a far more accomplished fighter than Mundine at this point in time," Lutton says. "But Mundine remains a much better known figure, largely because of his background in rugby league and his gift of the gab."
Geale, however, isn't about to change. He didn't complain after his loss to Barker and doesn't have a bad word to say about Golovkin.
"He doesn't carry on, which is good to see," says Geale of his opponent. "It's something I've been saying for a few years: there can be gentlemen in this sport. Not all boxers have to act a certain way to gain attention."
The Australian and the Kazakh saw each other while promoting their fight, but it isn't the first time they've met. Golovkin beat Geale in the final of the 2001 East Asian Games when the pair were amateurs. Geale doesn't read too much into that result.
"Since then we're completely different fighters. There has been a lot of time since then. He had a lot of amateur experience, as did I, and I think you can't really look into that in any way. We were both young and a lot has changed since then."
Looking forward to their date at Madison Square Garden, though, Geale finds himself in a familiar position as an unheralded underdog. Despite the fact that he's easily the best opponent of Golovkin's career, few give him a chance against the Central Asian knockout artist. Not that it bothers him.
"That's something that I enjoy, to be honest," he says with quiet determination. "I like the fact that people just play that card straight away and see him as invincible and everybody that he hits he knocks out, because I've seen it many times over the years."
"At some point it does stop. I'm at the peak of my career and if I concentrate on myself rather than worrying what Golovkin can do, his knockout percentage and all that crap, then I know that I can beat the guy."
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.
By Nat Gottlieb
In the co-featured bout of Saturday night's World Championship Boxing card at 9:30 PM, two unbeaten heavyweight contenders on the verge of a title fight will step into the ring in what should be an all-action affair with much at stake. Bryant Jennings vs. Mike Perez has the potential to be one of the best heavyweight fights in recent memory. But despite their stellar credentials, each fighter brings some heavy-duty question marks with them into the ring. The answers will go a long way toward bringing some clarity as to who will eventually take over the world title that Vitali Klitschko vacated.
Perez, a standout Cuban amateur who defected to Ireland in 2007, seemed to be on the verge of stardom when he took on another unbeaten heavyweight from Russia, Magomed Abdusalamov in November of last year. The fight proved to be thunderous brawl. Although Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs) won a relatively close unanimous decision, his triumph was dampened when the Russian later was diagnosed with significant brain damage that has left him severely disabled.
Perez was shaken by the outcome, and still refuses to talk about it. From his silence comes speculation that Perez might never be the same boxer again. The speculation only escalated after Perez's next fight, barely two months later. Taking on heavy underdog Carlos Takam at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Perez looked nothing like the wrecking machine he had been in his previous 20 fights, and escaped with a lackluster majority draw.
Longtime boxing writer, William Trillo, who has seen several of Perez's fights, was ringside in Montreal for the Cuban's bout with Takam and says he "looked tentative about letting his punches fly. He wouldn't be the first fighter to go downhill after beating a guy into a comatose state. It's a shame. He was on the verge of superstardom."
The questions surrounding Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs) are of a different nature. He came to boxing relatively late, at the age of 24. Like a lot of late starters, Jennings was involved in other sports. At Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia, he played football, basketball, ran the 200 meters and threw the shot put. After graduation, Jennings took a job as a mechanic at the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia to support his fiancé and young son – a job he still works at in between training for fights.
One benefit of his participation in other sports is that Jennings is an unusually athletic heavyweight whose style more resembles fighters from the lower weight divisions. In addition to moving well in the ring, he has excellent hand speed and a strong jab helped by his exceptionally long reach – at 84 inches, it's three inches longer than Wladimir Klitschko's. He is also that less common heavyweight today with a sculpted body (sort of the anti-Chris Arreola).
The downside to his late start is he is still something of a work in progress. His trainer, Fred Jenkins recently said: "People need to know that Bryant Jennings is still learning how to fight. On his skill level, he's at a B working on a B+. Each fight is a learning experience for him."
Jennings' promoter Gary Shaw says he would compare his boxer, who is 6'2", to a certain former heavyweight champion. "He reminds me of Evander Holyfield in terms of his athleticism, although he didn't have the amateur experience Holyfield had," Shaw says. "I consider him a small heavyweight, like Holyfield. But both fight bigger than their size." Worth noting is that while Holyfield was a half inch taller, his reach was just 78 inches, six shorter than Jennings'.
In his last fight, Jennings faced Artur Szpilka, an undefeated Polish boxer who had beaten a mediocre string of opponents. Although he scored a 10th round knockout, Jennings didn't look as sharp and crisp as he usually does – a fact that could be attributed to ring rust.
After a breakout year in 2012, in which he fought five times on national TV, Jennings had just one fight in 2013, due to promotional problems that were resolved when Shaw bought out his contract last year. When he entered the ring against Szpilka, it was just his second fight in two years. "Everybody has ring rust," Shaw says. "This time when he fights I guarantee you he won't be rusty."
But Jennings may face another obstacle. He was originally scheduled to fight Perez on May 24, but the Cuban sustained a shoulder injury while training and the bout had to be postponed until July 26. Jennings has been in the gym since April, could he be affected by overtraining?
Come fight night, there will be answers to those questions, and a new contender for the heavyweight title.
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