by Cliff Rold
On paper, Martin Murray looked like the toughest test to date for Gennady Golovkin. That played out in the ring with Murray lasting more rounds against Golovkin than anyone had before.
Murray made it to the eleventh.
With the finish line, the ‘at least he didn’t get me out of there’ achievement within sight, Golovkin landed one wallop too many after dropping Murray twice in the fourth and once in round ten.
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Golovkin B; Murray B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Golovkin A+; Murray C+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Golovkin B; Murray B/Post: B+; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Golovkin A; Murray B/Post: A; B+
There were some elements of this fight that gave Golovkin a chance to show off more than the destructive elements that have made him a fan favorite. Murray flashed decent movement and tried to box. He landed some stiff stuff to the body and countered well in spots to stay alive.
Murray was never really in the fight after the fourth. He was surviving though, and trying. He showed real courage. Golovkin had a chance to show some technical points not always on display.
In the first half of the fight, Golovkin slipped shots better than is always the case. There are questions about his defense. As an offensive fighter, Gol0vkin is always going to get hit. When he was trying not to get hit, he showed he can pull it off and still be there punching. As the fight wore on, Golovkin was hit more. Part of that was Murray picking some good shots. Part of it was Golovkin took a few and they didn’t seem to phase him so he didn’t seem to concentrate much defensive effort anymore.
Against more dangerous foes, he’d have to tighten that up for a whole fight. Are there dangerous foes at Middleweight?
That’s the real issue. Golovkin is racking up WBA defenses in a field at Middleweight every bit as barren as what Bernard Hopkins was facing in the second half of the 90s. It’s fun to watch because of his style, but it’s also predictable, safe, and anti-climactic. For the sake of history, Golovkin getting a crack at Miguel Cotto’s lineal crown is worth sticking around for.
Golovkin has earned the chance to etch his name as the rightful Middleweight king alongside Hopkins, Marvin Hagler, and Carlos Monzon. It’s not to say he’s as good as any of them. It’s still too soon to say. He’s clearly the man in his era and the era should be able to fully reflect that. If Cotto won’t fight him, he should vacate and leave Golovkin room to unify the rest of the class.
And then Golovkin should move up.
If unification doesn’t come easy, he should move up sooner.
There are better fighters right now at 168 lbs. than there are at 160. If fans are happy watching a one-man show, that’s great. For those who want to see competition, there is a better chance of it one class higher. At some point this year, Andre Ward will be back in action. Even with inactivity, he is still presumptively the king at 168 lbs.
Ward-Golovkin is a highly competitive fight. If Carl Froch doesn’t retire, Golovkin-Froch is too. Even something like Golovkin-Arthur Abraham would be more interesting than what Middleweight has to offer right now. Abraham is faded, and flawed, but he still has serious power and he’s been a cut above the Murray/Macklin/Geale level over the years.
The reasons to move up in weight are typically more money, better foes, or both. Golovkin can probably make more money at Middleweight if he can get Cotto or Canelo Alvarez in the ring. Can he? If so, how long is he willing to wait?
How long are fans to wait? The years between Bernard Hopkins beating Tito Trinidad and chasing down Oscar De La Hoya were pretty boring stuff at Middleweight.
A fighter is, to a degree, only as good as the opposition around to test him. That is lacking in today’s Middleweight division. Super Middleweight is going to have to be a factor sooner or later.
Report Card Picks 2015: 6-0 (including staff picks for Budler-Silvestre and Abraham-Smith II)
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]