By Cliff Rold
It’s not uncommon for a fighter with as little on their professional resume as Gennady Golovkin to capture the imagination. Whatever ‘it’ is, Golovkin has captured the essence. He looks the part. His punches sound the part.
Even as he already grows older than most realize, it feels like the future of the Middleweight division has arrived and yet is still emerging.
But about that resume…
No matter how good a fighter was as an amateur, no matter how long a knockout string they amass, eventually it comes down to a simple question: who are the names in the win column? Partly through what ended up being a terrible decision to sign with a dying Universum early in his career, and partly through name fighters not interested in making room for him on the marquee, Golovkin hasn’t had all the chances his talent merits.
It’s been unfortunate.
It doesn’t change the ‘is’ of it all. Golovkin needs the opponents that can validate his talent. Contender Matthew Macklin helped with that last year. In Geale, he has the most tested and proven opponent of his career.
Can Geale prove that captured imaginations were seeing something more than was there?
Let’s go the report cards.
Title: WBA ‘Super’ Middleweight (2010-Present, 10 Defenses), IBO middleweight champion (2011-Present, 8 Defenses).
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’10 ½
Weight: 159.8 lbs.
Hails from: Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany (Born in Kazakhstan)
Record: 29-0, 26 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 10-0, 10 KO (11-0, 11 KO including interim title fights)
Rankings: #1 (BoxingScene, TBRB, Ring, BoxRec), #2 (ESPN)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 1 (Kasim Ouma TKO10)
Previous Titles: IBF Middleweight (2011-13, 4 Defenses); WBA Middleweight (2012)
Weight: 159.2 lbs.
Hails from: Mt Annan, New South Wales, Australia
Record: 30-2, 16 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-1
Rankings: #2 (Ring), #4 (ESPN), #5 (TBRB, BoxRec), #6 (BoxingScene)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 7 (Anthony Mundine L12, UD12; Roman Karmazin TKO12; Sebastian Sylvester SD12; Felix Sturm SD12; Darren Barker L12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Golovkin B; Geale B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Golovkin A+; Geale C+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Golovkin B; Geale B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Golovkin A; Geale A
Geale has more advantages in this fight than he’s been given credit for in many corners. His hands are quicker and he’s not shy about moving them. As a professional, he’s also clearly more experienced and accomplished. He’s faced a higher level of foe and not been shy about going on the road, briefly unifying a pair of titles by defeating Felix Sturm in Germany.
Geale, who has been on the floor a few times, can be caught but isn’t a bad defensive fighter and Golovkin can be touched as well. If the quicker Geale can get off first and avoid prolonged confrontations, it’s not impossible to score the upset.
The problem will be in making use of the speed edge as Golovkin starts to land. Golovkin is a scary puncher in large part because he’s so good at finding the target. His technical acumen is excellent, a product of long amateur tutoring supplemented by professional touches via trainer Abel Sanchez.
To throw is to risk being hit back. Golovkin could have Geale thinking before throwing by the fourth or fifth round if not earlier. Golovkin doesn’t have the fastest hands, but his precision and timing make up for it. He knows where to punch and when.
In terms of intangibles, each has spots to recommend them. While Geale has been on the floor, he’s never stayed there and has shown real mental toughness. Golovkin has shown he knows how to make an impression, coming up big when he the spotlight is on and sporting a solid beard so far.
It’s just hard to imagine someone who was life and death with Darren Barker defeating Golovkin. Geale is Golovkin’s most proven foe, but his status as a lofty contender may speak a little to problems of depth at Middleweight. Being the fourth or fifth best Middleweight isn’t the same as that status in the divisions one below and above 160 right now.
Geale is good. Golovkin is the goods. Geale will make a good show but at some point Golovkin is going to put him down and teach him to stay there for the first time in his career.
Report Card Picks 2014: 30-15
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com