If Sugar Ray Robinson, Hercules, Usain Bolt, the Predator monster, and Magnus ver Magnusson all put their DNA in a blender, the result would be a baby that might someday make for a decent sparring partner for Gennady Golovkin. So goes, approximately, the line of thinking for those aboard the "GGG" hype-wagon. If Golovkin doesn't find a way to create everlasting world peace with his right fist, his career will be viewed as a disappointment.
This happens in boxing, sometimes, that the buzz surrounding an underexposed fighter escalates, and when that fighter gains exposure and performs well enough to justify some of the buzz, the legend grows until he's no longer judged by the standards mere mortals are held to. Golovkin is the mysterious middleweight from Kazakhstan who'll smile you to smithereens, then smash you as a follow-up act. He is, as best anyone can tell, really, really good. But is he great? Is he the next big thing in boxing? Is he the guy everyone within two weight classes should avoid at all costs if they know what's good for them?
That's what Matthew Macklin, who happens to have absolutely no interest in avoiding Golovkin, is hopefully going to reveal to us at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods on June 29.
For Golovkin, this is The Test. Maybe it won't tell us everything we need to know, but it will tell us plenty. If he does to Macklin as he's done to his other 26 opponents, 23 of whom did not hear the final bell, then the skeptics can stop saying, "Sure, he looks good, but he hasn't beaten anyone." If Golovkin passes The Test, we can start talking seriously about what fights with lineal middleweight champ Sergio Martinez or lineal super middleweight champ Andre Ward might look like.
But first, there's The Test, and at least one person out there believes GGG will receive an "F."
"Being undefeated is a great thing because it means you get hyped up a lot more, but it's also a disadvantage," warned Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs). "A lot of times, you're not as experienced in terms of the level of opponent you're competing against. His last few opponents vs. my last few opponents, there's no comparison. He's used to always getting his own way, being the bully in there. I don't think he's going to be able to bully me. So we'll see how he reacts when that happens. This isn't the amateurs anymore, this is the professionals. He's never been 12 rounds. So we'll see how he is when it's about Round 10, and he's a bit tired, and he's been shook a couple of times himself. We'll see what goes through his head then."
Let's face it: Most boxers have a little promoter in them. So Macklin, as the underdog, is downplaying his opponent's strengths and insisting that it's going to be a competitive fight. And Golovkin, as the favorite, is highlighting his opponent's strengths and insisting that it's going to be a competitive fight.
"Matthew right now is the best opponent for me. I respect him, because he's good boxer, he's good athlete. I think very difficult fight for us," Golovkin said in his rapidly progressing, but still fairly broken, English. "Okay, I have this great record. Okay, I have power, I have speed. But this is very serious situation right now. This fight is a big step. Not baby step, big step."
Indeed, there can be no denying that Macklin is the best opponent Golovkin will have faced, an in-his-prime full-fledged middleweight who has proven his worth at the elite level by going roughly even up with Martinez for 10 rounds before succumbing in the 11th and by outfighting Felix Sturm in Germany only to lose on an all-out robbery of a decision. They were losses, sure, but they were both "good losses." Meanwhile, Golovkin has stepped up his opposition over his last three fights, but only marginally. In his HBO debut, he turned away little-known Grzegorz Proksa; it was an aesthetic delight, but not an especially meaningful win. Then Golovkin defeated fringe junior middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado, a solid victory made more impressive by the fact that GGG was getting smacked around by the flu throughout fight week. In his most recent fight, Golovkin annihilated Nobuhiro Ishida; it was a scintillating one-punch finish, but it was also wholly expected.
Golovkin is a wrecking ball. But Macklin is a brick building who remains unconvinced after watching the wrecking ball blast through a few sheets of wood paneling. So unconvinced is the English-born son of Irish parents that he says sanity-defying things like, "I'm looking forward to fighting him. I'm really excited about it."
"I don't think based on who he's beaten that he should really be getting this sort of hype," Macklin continued. "I think the hype basically stems from a few gym stories, the fact that he's been avoided by a lot of guys, and his amateur pedigree."
Macklin knows well of that amateur pedigree, having first become aware of Golovkin when the two teenagers boxed a division apart at the world junior championships in Budapest in 2000. To Macklin, Golovkin is not some newly emerging mystical force. He's been on his radar for 13 years, with a showdown in either the amateurs (where Golovkin went on to win an Olympic silver medal in '04) or the pros always a possibility.
Now it's happening. And while Golovkin is playing it up as a dangerous challenge, his trainer, Abel Sanchez, expresses less concern-not because he underrates Macklin, but because he thinks the style matchup is perfect for his man.
"I think Proksa was a harder situation, a southpaw who was a mover," Sanchez analyzed. "Macklin is recognized as Gennady's best opponent by a lot of the people only because he's fought bigger names, but Macklin is going to come to fight and he's going to stand in front of Golovkin, and if he does that then he's in big trouble."
This will be Golovkin's third fight in 2013, and he remains on pace for the five or possibly even six fights he outlined plans for when the year began. It's up to Macklin to break that up-either by scoring the upset, or by at least roughing Golovkin up enough to force him to take a few months off.
And no matter how much trouble Macklin can make for Golovkin, it might not be enough to wipe the smile off the endlessly affable Kazakh's face. GGG is the super-hyped sensation of the moment in boxing, and he's loving every minute of it.
"I'm really happy right now," he told HBO.com. "People look at me, saying, ‘Hey, Triple G!' I'm happy. Right now is a very great time for me, for my career."
It'll be an even better time for him if he passes The Test.
On the undercard of the Boxing After Dark tripleheader, more tests for promising fighters abound. South African super middle Thomas Oosthuizen puts his undefeated record on line against fellow unbeaten Brandon Gonzales, while in the opener, junior middleweight Willie Nelson will get a better sense of his ceiling against Luciano Cuello-whose only losses have come to Mexican superstars Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It will be interesting to see who among these four fighters can seize an opportunity to join Golovkin in boxing's buzz bin.
Posted 12:00 AM | Jun 19, 2013
HBO BAD: Jun 29, 2013 at 9:45pm ET/PT
Thomas Oosthuizen vs. Brandon Gonzales
Willie Nelson vs. Luciano Cuello