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Azad Championship Report - Has the "Good Boy" Arrived?

Gennady ’GGG

All GGG vs. Macklin Photos © Will Hart / K2

By Steve Kim

What was thought to be a relatively tough test for WBA middleweight beltholder Gennady Golovkin, this past Saturday night at the Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Connecticut, was instead a one-sided demolition. With one devastatingly accurate and well-placed left hook to Matthew Macklin’s right side in the middle of the third round, it was over. It was a punch that left the normally durable Irishman writhing in pain on the canvas (and ringsiders wincing notably - this one included). It was a cold and calculating performance for a fighter who has built as much buzz as any prizefighter in 2013.


Sergio Martinez is the rightful middleweight champion; there’s no disputing that. But as of this moment, Golovkin is perhaps the most feared fighter in this division.
 
“Without question,” said Lou DiBella, who just happens to promote both Macklin and Martinez.
 
Macklin was chosen by the handlers of K2 Promotions and HBO because he would provide some sort of gauge versus the performances of Felix Sturm (who was fortunate to have gotten the nod versus “Mack the Knife” a couple of years ago) and Martinez (who was actually dropped in the middle rounds of their fight last year at the Garden). While those two had their struggles, Golovkin just systematically dispatched him with an impressive economy of movement that cut off and cornered the unusually skittish Macklin and then took him out with his vaunted two-fisted power.
 
“I felt great,” said Golovkin, who raised his mark to 27-0 while scoring his 24th knockout. “This was an easy fight for me. Everything I wanted to do, I was able to do in the ring. [Macklin] never hurt me. I want to fight again as soon as possible, any top fighter, any beltholder. Anybody. Anywhere. I will fight them. I am here.”
 
(Left to Right): Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin
( Right) Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin
 Matthew Macklin
Gennady Golovkin
 Gennady Golovkin
He certainly is. In fact, he may have just arrived.
 
“I think this was a big statement fight. We wanted to make this a statement year with the five-fight schedule but a fight like this over Macklin, we knew Macklin was coming in with a lot of credibility having fought some of the best fighters in the world and showing that he’s one of the best middleweights. For Gennady to stop him like that early, I think just made a statement,” said Managing Director of K2 Promotions Tom Loeffler.
 
And that statement to the rest of the 160-pound class could be: Beware.
 
And this is the irony of this sport and business because while this win was eye-opening in many regards, it may actually dissuade other middleweights and their respective managements from getting in there with him. But Loeffler says, “I think now with HBO behind us - they had a great media campaign for this fight - and there was a lot of hype around this fight and I think Gennady’s going to take on a life of his own in terms of momentum that he has right now. I think this performance proves he’s the best middleweight in the world. That’s not taking anything away from Sergio but with the way [Golovkin] took Macklin apart, I think he’s clearly the best middleweight in the world.”
 
Speaking of Martinez, his often-volatile promoter had to amend his immediate post-fight comments (where he downplayed the possibility of Martinez facing Golovkin in the near future) to members of the press, issuing an email on Monday afternoon that read in part, “Sergio Martinez reached out to [adviser] Sampson [Lewkowicz] and me today. He said that history will show that he has embraced every challenge available to him in his career. His legacy will be that he was always willing to fight the best.  Right now, his concentration is on healing and rehabilitation and he will not fight until sometime in the first half of 2014. He wanted to make it clear that he is willing to fight Gennady Golovkin in the future. Any conversations now about timing would be premature and inappropriate.”
 
Martinez is currently nursing a knee injury and DiBella doesn’t expect him to return to action till the spring of 2014. In a later conversation, DiBella also said he simply would not immediately put his client in with Golovkin after such a protracted layoff.
 
Regardless, a gracious DiBella said at the post-fight presser of “GGG,” “He’s a great champion. He’s only going to get better. I think a star was born tonight.” He added, “This is a man you’re going to be hearing about for years to come. I expect one day he could be very well the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.”
 
So what’s next?
 
According to Loeffler, “We’re either looking at August, September or November, just depending on HBO’s schedule and the best opponents we can get in the ring.” The game plan for 2013 was for the Golovkin brand to be built and his profile expanded with as much activity in the ring as possible (for this day and age at least). “We’re on track for five times this year,” reiterated Loeffler.
 
Word is HBO is now strongly considering televising the last two Golovkin appearances of 2013. While it’s premature to call him a marquee attraction just yet (because up to this point, he’s been showcased in Indian casinos and the Theater at Madison Square Garden), he has been building at least a television following in the States. His initial outing on HBO back in September against Grzegorz Proksa had an audience of 685,000; his January bout versus Gabriel Rosado was watched by 813,000 viewers and the bout with Macklin was watched by 1.1 million (source: Nielsen Media Research).
 
But before we crown him Dennis Green-style, there is this simple fact: for all this excitement Golovkin has created, Macklin was really the first top 10 middleweight he has defeated. And till he starts headlining at the big room of Madison Square Garden, drawing 10,000 fans and being a part of major pay-per-view cards, that’s when he will truly be considered a star. Perhaps there is a chance that we are all getting ahead of ourselves. You just never know how these things will pan out but you certainly want to see where the “Good Boy” is headed. He is an individual who has created a certain intrigue in the sport and you look forward to watching whomever he faces and whenever he does so.
 
And isn’t that a good thing regardless?
 
ACTIVITY
 
If you look at the fighters who are at the championship/12-round level over the past year or so, Golovkin (who has performed five times since May of 2012) has been as active as any fighter, alongside the likes of Leo Santa Cruz (who fought five times in 2012), Nonito Donaire (who went out there four times in 2012 en route to winning “Fighter of the Year” honors) and now Sergey Kovalev (who has boxed four times since last June of 2012).
 
If you look at the career arcs of these boxers, it’s clear; good things have happened as they have consistently got in there and performed and didn’t just sit on the sidelines for long stretches.
 
This is no coincidence.
 
WAR
 
At the post-fight press conference after suffering a dubious draw versus Thomas Oosthuizen, Brandon Gonzales noted his disappointment that not a single representative of Goossen Tutor (who promotes him) didn’t bother to show up to this fight at the Foxwoods.
 
I don’t think there’s any question that this is a residual effect of the conflict between the promotional firm and recognized super middleweight champ Andre Ward. On Friday, it was announced that the California commission ruled in favor of Goossen Tutor, upholding its contract with Ward, who was looking to break free from them. Like Ward, Gonzales is managed by James Prince and trained by Virgil Hunter. Sources say that when Prince went to go check into his hotel room for the weekend, there was none awaiting him.
 
Yeah, this isn’t over.
 
There’s a very good chance that Ward will now take this to court, perhaps stating violations of the Muhammad Ali Act.
 
But the larger pressing question is: Now that Dan Goossen handed Ward his first professional “loss,” where does the latter rank in those all-important pound-for-pound rankings?
 
FIGHT GAME
 
OK, I’ll be honest; I found the latest edition of “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley” to have been a letdown. I thought it spent way too much time on various lists when there are other issues (serious and not-so-serious) that could’ve been discussed. And I found it a bit head-scratching that Max Kellerman was trying to sell us on the public appeal of Guillermo Rigondeaux. According to Kellerman, the April 13th bout between the Cuban southpaw and Nonito Donaire was apparently a match-up between the third and best fighter in the sport (uhhh…now if this doesn’t show you how irrelevant pound-for-pound rankings are, nothing will).
 
(By the way, Kellerman’s reasoning for ranking the “Filipino Flash” so high still was that he won a bunch of belts throughout his career. But isn’t Max the one always saying how “meaningless” they are? Bottom line, while Donaire would still probably be favored in a fight versus Abner Mares - and have more physical talent - has Donaire ever had a run in any given division like Mares did at 118?)
 
“The Fight Game” can and should be an important show for the business of boxing (and personally, I’m rooting for this to work and one day be a monthly program) but it cannot get bogged down in the superfluous. It has to be very careful to not be perceived as having a network agenda. While Lampley’s final statements on the below-the-belt promotion between Adrien Broner, Paulie Malignaggi and “Jessica Sidepiece” were valid and hard to disagree with, it has to be pointed out that HBO helped create this monster (“Broner-stein”?) They showcased him in a short amount of time more often than any other fighter in their history and even made a point to give him exposure when he wasn’t fighting (such as his rather unfortunate attempt at dropping rhymes during the Robert Guerrero-Andre Berto card in Ontario, California).
 
I thought this program was making consistent strides from its initial airing. Unfortunately, I think it took a step backwards this past weekend.
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest installment of “The Next Round” (with special guest, Larry Merchant, who stayed on for a half-hour and answered questions from Twitter):
 
 
 
Merchant proud of his photo bomb of Ali-Liston.
Larry Merchant - Photo Bombs Ali
SUMMER FLURRIES

A press conference has officially announced that heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko will face Alexander Povetkin on October 5th in Moscow. There is a good chance that HBO will be televising this...The average rating for the “Boxing After Dark” show this past weekend was 912,000...Jonathan “La Bomba” Gonzalez will face Giovani Segura on August 17th in Puerto Rico...Interesting trade by the Clippers; right?...Is Dwight Howard the type of guy who can take a team all the way to a Larry O’Brien Trophy as the best player? I keep asking myself that question...I had no disagreements with Adrian Peterson as the top player in the NFL Network Top 100 players (voted on solely by the players)...And yes, that was me (on the HBO replay from press row) reacting as if I got hit by Golovkin’s left hook. Seriously, I felt bad for Macklin. Hey, Merchant’s famous photobomb moment was the iconic shot of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston in their rematch. Well, I guess this was my “Merchant Moment”...

I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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