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 are available on InsideHBOBoxing.com.
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.