“An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”
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The ring. A place where you can fix yourself by breaking someone else. On March 18 at Madison Square Garden, Gennady Golovkin committed the cardinal sin of going the distance with Daniel Jacobs in defense of his WBC, WBO and IBF titles while snatching the WBA belt via narrow unanimous decision.
His knockout streak came to a screeching halt at 23, as a few cryptic fans still drunk off St. Patrick's Day in green t-shirts threw whiskey at the verdict. The media credential dangling around my neck that evening was the color of Halloween, and I'll be damned if to the eye with at least a G-string still on, if Golovkin didn't look like a pumpkin ripe for the taking.
But this has nothing to do with “GGG”.
During a conference call on Monday to promote the mammoth mega-fight with Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez on September 16, Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez floored ESPN's Dan Rafael (and more than likely, a few others on the call) by stating he expected Canelo to ‘hurt and knockdown' Triple G in an encounter with Alvarez he nevertheless expects his ward to win.
One of boxing's most intellectually frank minds, a pseudo-revelation of this kind coming from Sanchez would only reinforce notions of slippage from the 35 year-old Golovkin. Was this subterfuge or gamesmanship? Difficult to tell. Joined by Canelo's chief cornerman Eddy Reynoso, Sanchez deferred throughout, making me wonder about the thought process of “Mr. Drama Show” himself amidst all of this. All of sudden, Canelo was now a demonstrably larger threat than the all-star team trained and full-fledged middleweight Jacobs. I asked Sanchez to clarify his recent statements about Canelo's questionable power, in which he'd labeled him “a slapper” while declaring Golovkin ‘should win easily.' Sanchez basically took the high road in his responses, forcing me to take the dimly lit back roads to ascertain meaning.
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Fresh off sizing up the rare division unification ruckus between WBC, WBO and RING super lightweight champion Terence Crawford against WBA and IBF king Julius Indongo (Saturday, August 19 on ESPN), I once again dragged fellow NY Fights scribbler Colin Morrison into this situation from Scotland. Fuckin demanded he tell me how Golovkin wins this thing after laying out Canelo's path to victory in episode IV.
Golovkin knows that he needs a better showing than he delivered in his last two outings in order to win. Although facing a completely different style of opponent here– he needs his A game for this showdown.
The jab is key. Similar to the Lemieux fight, I can see GGG using this as the focal point of his output; he'll box sensibly and only use the left hook or right hand when he has Canelo on the back foot.
If GGG can control the distance and regularly find a home for his jab then he can win via late stoppage.
See, now we're on to something.
I figure Golovkin's a little pissy these days with all the whining over a very quality win and the lofty status afforded Canelo. That the vengeful God in him, G to the 3rd degree, will present Canelo with a Lucifer of sorts and pitch fork him. To the detractors of Alvarez, all he's done is beat an over-baked fighter who was “a mere con” at super welter, left a pedestrian Liam Smith undone and lassoed in Dallas, and spanked a spoiled brat in the Son of Chavez.
I personally think Canelo is much more than this, but not more than a year ago the cognoscenti at Golden Boy didn't think he was ready for Golovkin. Now, they believe a subpar showing with Kell Brook and total mortality against Daniel Jacobs has Canelo more than ready for all of Gennady Gennadyvich Golovkin. I'm not buying it– or anything Abel Sanchez was saying on the call (he wasn't either).
Back when there were only eight divisions, a welterweight champion challenging a middleweight champion was no big deal. Golovkin is not a big middleweight and Kell Brook was a huge welterweight. GGG ruined what was a great fighter. Who gives a shit if Kell gave him a run? Wasn't he supposed to?
As for Jacobs, he was pegged for greatness long ago and is a great fighter in his own regard. Never was he in better condition or part of a better camp, as his team journeyed to the land of Andre Ward and Virgil Hunter near Oakland to take down Goliath. Jacobs was roughly 180lbs on fight night. GGG dropped a very strong Jacobs early and had him running late. It remains to be seen what remains of him.
All of this to say, that it is unwise to lower your expectations of Golovkin against an opponent who has never beaten a credible middleweight or faced Golovkin's numbing power. Don't be surprised if we see a different version of Bernard Hopkins V Felix Trinidad, a fight where Tito's limitations were exposed and he was never the same again.