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Azad Championship Report - Golovkin: Overrated, Underrated, Feared and Unproven


This weekend, much of the boxing spotlight will focus in on the rematch between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, which will be featured on HBO (10:15 p.m. ET/PT). Meanwhile, in a small independent pay-per-view show from the exotic locale of Monte Carlo, WBA middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin faces Nobuhiro Ishida in a stay-busy affair. This fight comes off the heels of his January 19th seventh round TKO win over Gabriel Rosado and could be a prelude to another HBO appearance in late June.

The reason Golovkin is keeping such an active pace is very simple - he really has no other choice.
Bottom line, most of the other marquee names at 160 are either tied up (such as champion Sergio Martinez, who has an April 27th appointment versus Martin Murray), unavailable (Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is suspended till mid-June as his career is in a haze of smoke) or perhaps unwilling (Daniel Geale, who gave up an opportunity to face Golovkin after defeating Felix Sturm last year).

Coming into 2013, in lieu of getting one of the big names in the ring, one of Golovkin’s stated missions would be to make up for it in volume. To build his own brand and grow his own marketability through sheer activity and develop as an attraction to at least the hardcore followers of the sport. But when will Golovkin get that much-desired shot at the big time?
“Good question,” he said, when posed that question on the afternoon of March 16th, during a media luncheon staged for him at the Marriott in Manhattan Beach. When asked who he would like to face after this weekend (provided, of course, everything goes as planned), Golovkin stated, “Doesn’t matter; Brian Vera, Edwin Rodriguez, it doesn’t matter for me. Right now, my focus is Ishida. Who’s next? Doesn’t matter.”
HBO has made a clear commitment to Golovkin (and is committed to giving him another slot before the end of June) but it takes two to tango. Even the deep coffers of a premium cable network may not be enough to lure blue-chip middleweights into the ring with Golovkin if they simply have no interest in doing so. Right now, for the most part, Golovkin is a solo act in the ring, facing cannon fodder who are in there merely because they may not have any other options. He’s done his part in terms of staying active. Since September, this will be his third outing and he’s on pace to fight three times in the first half of this year (making him one of the most active 12-round boxers on the planet).
But that’s the thing about being underrated and supposedly feared. When you’re relegated to facing the likes of Ishida (who has a rather pedestrian mark of 24-8-2 (9) and comes into this contest with back-to-back losses, having dropped three of his last five contests), you run the risk of being underrated to the point of actually becoming overrated by a different set of fans, pundits and observers who may simply get sick of hearing the hype. This upcoming bout has come under some criticism from those who perhaps have no concept of what a stay-busy fight is in an era when oftentimes, the game’s best don’t even box three times in a calendar year.
Tom Loeffler, the managing director of K2, bristles at this, “Well, it’s hard to call Ishida a soft fight. I mean, with his win over James Kirkland and him fighting only the best like Dmitry Pirog in his last fight. So I don’t really look at it that way. I look at it as a very competitive opponent. He’s at the world-class level and he’s never been stopped before, so he’s a very durable opponent as well. So I think it’ll be an entertaining fight.”
That said, the game Ishida is a heavy underdog for a reason. Some sports books (for entertainment purposes only, of course) have Golovkin as a 50-1 favorite. To put that into perspective, Buster Douglas was merely 42-1 when he shocked Mike Tyson in Tokyo in 1990. Check out more odds at
Ask most anyone who follows boxing and they’ll tell you “GGG” is no worse than the second or third-best middleweight in the world. But upon closer inspection of his résumé, well, he hasn’t exactly faced Stanley Ketchel and Harry Greb, much less John Mugabi or Wilford Scypion. But that’s the classic “chicken or the egg” question arising for so many talented boxers on the come up before they establish themselves as stars with the type of economic leverage or cache to make certain match-ups a reality. For years, Bernard Hopkins was the odd man out who couldn’t get a meaningful fight. Several years ago, Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito took turns being “The Most Feared Man in Boxing” and now, Lucas Matthysse faces a similar quandary.
How can Golovkin really prove his worth if no one is willing to give him that chance? It’s very much like the hunt for our first jobs. C’mon, you remember back as a junior in high school. You’re looking to make a few extra bucks and you apply for jobs, only to get turned down time and time again. The reason? You have no working experience. But without getting hired, how will you ever attain it? Right now, Golovkin is that guy getting shunned by the likes of Sbarro, Orange Julius, Hot Dog on a Stick and Subway in the food court.
To this dynamic, Loeffler states with a laugh, “My answer to some of the critics and a lot of the fans who say, ‘Well, why don’t you fight this guy? Why don’t you fight that guy?’ I say, ‘Well, why don’t you get them to take it?’ But every time an HBO opportunity comes up and we’re talking about significant dollars for the June fight, surprisingly, people become unavailable. Now, it seems that maybe Matthew Macklin could be interested in the June fight, which would be interesting, a very interesting fight and Macklin has certainly proven to be near the top of the middleweight division and that would be a credible name that people really couldn’t contradict.”
So with that, they still plan on trotting Golovkin out as much as five times in 2013.
“Absolutely,” confirmed Loeffler. “He fights in June. That’ll be three fights and then he definitely wants to fight at least once or twice in the fall if everything goes the right way and there’s no way to really overlook Ishida because I think James Kirkland may have made that mistake or underestimated him. You saw the price he paid. So he’s certainly not looking ahead but from a business side, it’s my job to be able to plan ahead of time and for sure, we’ll see him fight four fights, hopefully, five fights if things go the right way.”
Golovkin has made it clear; he’s even willing to bypass the super middleweight division to face Bernard Hopkins at 175. “Yeah, why not?” he asks, rhetorically. “My weight is good; last month, I weighed 170, 171. My weight is no problem.” And he’s willing to go anywhere between 154 and 175 for the right opponent. “Yeah, it’s no problem. I sparred with Tavoris Cloud. It was good work. I feel this category is good for me. It’s no problem.”
In preparation for what resulted in a defeat to Hopkins on March 9th, Cloud trained in Big Bear with Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez.
When asked how the sparring went, the veteran cornerman said, “Gennady’s a special talent; I’ll leave it at that. Gennady’s a special talent that I don’t think I’ve had anybody in this gym that has posed any problems to him. With all due respect to Tavoris, Tavoris was very, very appreciative of all the help that we gave him here. But one comment he did make, he said, ‘If I stick around here, Gennady’s going to give me my bachelors, my PhD and my Masters.’”
And Sanchez is pleased with Golovkin’s quick turnaround.
“He took 20 days off, went home, was with his family and came right back,” he said, pointing out, “When Mike Tyson was in his heyday, he used to fight every five, six weeks. I think these guys today, they take so much time off, they gain weight; they get complacent; they sit at home. They do nothing and then when they come back to the gym, I believe the work becomes harder to get in shape and get ready for a fight. If you’re continuous - and obviously he needs to be fighting - he can’t just stay in the gym and just continuously train if he’s not going to fight. But if he’s going to fight every three months, I think it’s a good thing. I think that’s the way it used to be.”
Many would argue it’s the way it should be.
Golovkin, who had a storied amateur run, still has just 25 professional contests under his belt and is certainly not in the twilight of his career at the age of 30. So for now, they are working in bulk, hoping to build a case down the line for the likes of Martinez. Currently, they are relegated to facing the likes of Ishida.

“He’s a good boxer,” Golovkin says of his upcoming foe. “I think he understands the situation; this is the last shot for him for a title fight. I think he’s very serious right now.”
For those who want to see this event, here’s the pay-per-view info (from a press release):
The “Monte-Carlo Million Dollar Super 4” and Golovkin’s middleweight title defense will be distributed in the United States and Canada by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT on both cable and satellite Pay-Per-View via iN Demand, DIRECTV, DISH and Avail-TVN in the United States and in Canada via Bell TV for a suggested retail price of only $24.95. In addition, the event will be available via online Pay-Per-View at:
To order the “Super Four” PPV, headlined by WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin defending against former world champion Nobuhiro Ishida, go to your cable company’s PPV listings for Saturday afternoon (starting at 3 p.m. ET; event telecast starting at 3:30 pm ET ) and look under boxing for Golovkin vs. Ishida.  In addition, the event will be available via online Pay-Per-View at:
In what is a buzz-maker (which is the opposite of buzz-kill), HBO announced on Tuesday that they are reviving their acclaimed “Legendary Nights” series with a look back at the trilogy between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward. The original installment of this series was a gem and it was one of the few highlights of the Ross Greenburg era, when he was the president of HBO Sports (hey, nobody said this guy wasn’t a brilliant producer).
I’d love to see this series revived but I think that with Golden Boy Promotions being jettisoned from the network, unfortunately, many fights will be excluded from consideration. Still, events like Hopkins-Felix Trinidad, which took place in the back-drop of 9/11, would be some riveting television.
Once again, Floyd Mayweather is coming to a (participating) theater near you, as his May 4th bout versus Robert Guerrero will be carried across the nation on the silver screen. For more info, log on to of the card, Leo Santa Cruz will be facing Alexander Munoz (remember him?) on that undercard...2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina, 2-0 (1), returns to action this Saturday night in Sinaloa, Mexico...Vic Darchinyan has signed a managerial pact with Frank Espinoza. He will fight in Mexico City on April 20th on the Victor Terrazas vs. Cristian Mijares undercard...Riddick Bowe will be doing Muay Thai in Thailand soon, according to a press release. This is not a joke, by the way...Manti Te’o is now just not as slow as he was at the NFL Combine...I still can’t believe Miami is in the Sweet 16. Neither can Constantin Popa...The Lakers are still slow, old and not very deep after all...

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