By Cliff Rold

“Okay, but what happens when he steps up his competition?”

Gennady Golovkin has been racking up a body count for a long time, hailed as a ‘future’ of the Middleweight division by some from very early on. His early career relationship with folding promotional outfit Universum cost him time early on. A move to the US market beginning in 2012 finally got him on track and he impressed.

The question of whether he would impress when the waters got deeper lingered.  A third round shelling of established contender Matthew Macklin began the answer in 2013.  Starting with that win, and reaching this Saturday, Golovkin will have faced four men widely regarded as top ten contenders in his class. Daniel Geale, a former unified titlist, and Marco Antonio Rubio, a former title challenger, suffered fates similar in violence to Macklin.

Of the three serious contenders he’s faced so far, only Geale had not be stopped before.  Martin Murray, entering this contest, can say the same.  Golovkin has won 18 in a row inside the route.  Something will give.  Will it be Murray?       

Let’s go the report card.

The Ledgers

Gennady Golovkin

Age: 32

Title: WBA ‘Super’ Middleweight (2010-Present, 12 Defenses)

Previous Titles: None

Height: 5’10 ½

Weight: 158.9 lbs.

Hails from: Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany (Born in Kazakhstan)

Record: 31-0, 28 KO

Record in Major Title Fights: 12-0, 12 KO (13-0, 13 KO including interim title fights)

Rankings: #1 (BoxingScene, TBRB, Ring, BoxRec), #2 (ESPN)

Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Kasim Ouma TKO10, Daniel Geale TKO3)


Martin Murray

Age: 32

Title/Previous Titles: None

Height: 6’0

Weight: 159.9 lbs.

Hails from: St Helens, Merseyside, United Kingdom

Record: 29-1-1, 12 KO

Record in Major Title Fights: 0-1-1

Rankings: #4 (TBRB), #6 (Ring), #7 (ESPN), #8 (BoxingScene), #9 (BoxRec)

Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Felix Sturm D12; Sergio Martinez L12)


Pre-Fight: Speed – Golovkin B; Murray B

Pre-Fight: Power – Golovkin A+; Murray C+

Pre-Fight: Defense – Golovkin B; Murray B

Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Golovkin A; Murray B

Murray was so close to being the king. In 2013, he traveled to Argentina late and had then-lineal Middleweight king Sergio Martinez down late.  He let it get away.  One could argue the judges helped.  The same could be said of a draw against Felix Sturm.  It could also be argued Murray simply didn’t do enough when he needed to.

A little luck, a few extra lashes of leather, are the difference between being the king and being the latest on the Golovkin rocket to the top.  Murray has chances.  Taller than Golovkin, he’s never been stopped and he’s a solid boxer.  Lacking for power, he often uses his legs and jab to try and control the fight.

When pinned down, Murray goes to the body well and has an educated right hand.  If he can turn it over, and slip from harm’s way, he’ll have chance to play hit and don’t get hit.

Getting hit by Golovkin never seems the wisest course. 

The 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist isn’t the fastest guy in boxing.  He doesn’t have to be.  His timing is excellent and so is his punch placement.  What he places echoes in a way few fighters can emulate.  Golovkin is building a solid fan following, in evidence in his ticket selling win over Rubio last time out.  He’s also proving to be willing to be a ‘world’ champion.

He’s had title defenses in six countries already.  This is his second time in the Kingdom of Monaco.  Coming into the weekend, he’s regarded by many as the best in the world at 160 lbs.  The man who hold’s history’s crown, Miguel Cotto, would be regarded as a heavy underdog if they ever meet.

Every win Golovkin picks up should considered another chance to shame Cotto into doing one of two things: leaving the division for the smaller classes where he rightly belongs while Golovkin pursues unification or fighting his true top contender.  For as long as Cotto holds the title that traces to Bernard Hopkins unification of the division, anything less than Golovkin-Cotto should be scoffed at by those who see boxing as sport before business.

That will only remain true if Golovkin handles Murray on Saturday.  Murray has shown he can get close to the top.  Is he capable of getting all the way there?  Is the third time the charm?

The Pick

Chances are, the third time is the time Murray will wish he’d capitalized when opportunity knocked previously.  His late rounds inability to push for the win against Martinez exposed a problem for Murray.  He doesn’t seem to have an extra gear.  Golovkin does. The height and movement of Murray might make for some interesting early chess. Golovkin will be beating on his body anyways.  Murray doesn’t have the firepower to keep him off once that body attack starts to wear on his legs.  The pick here is for Golovkin to take his streak to 19 stops in a row, probably around the tenth.  

Report Card Picks 2015: 3-0

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