By Keith Idec
CARSON, California – Gennady Golovkin expressed respect for Bernard Hopkins on Saturday night, as did his trainer, Abel Sanchez.
Golovkin appreciates that he was able to tie Hopkins’ middleweight record after making a 20th consecutive title defense Saturday night. By knocking out Vanes Martirosyan in the second round at StubHub Center, Kazakhstan’s Golovkin defended the WBA middleweight championship he won 7½ years ago for the 20th time.
The unbeaten Golovkin also defended the WBC and IBO titles, which he won later than he captured the WBA crown.
When it came time to assess how a bout between him and Hopkins would’ve unfolded if both boxers were in their physical primes, Golovkin deferred to his veteran trainer, who has been immersed in this sport for decades.
“That would’ve been a great fight in their primes,” Sanchez said. “I think that Gennady’s power would’ve been the difference, but Bernard was a great champion at 160.”
Golovkin added, “Yeah, very interesting for me, too.”
Philadelphia’s Hopkins displayed a granite chin throughout his Hall-of-Fame career. The former middleweight and light heavyweight champion didn’t lose by knockout until his final fight, which took place less than a month shy of his 52nd birthday.
Light heavyweight contender Joe Smith (23-2, 19 KOs) knocked out Hopkins in the eighth round of that scheduled 12-round fight at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The 36-year-old Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) knocked out 23 straight opponents prior to going all 12 rounds in back-to-back bouts against Daniel Jacobs and Canelo Alvarez last year.
While Golovkin wouldn’t break down how a bout between him and Hopkins would’ve played out, he drew attention last week when he stressed that his middleweight title reign has been more impressive than Hopkins’ lengthy run.
The retired Hopkins (55-8-2, 32 KOs, 2 NC) made 20 consecutive defenses of the IBF middleweight championship he won by scoring a seventh-round, technical-knockout victory over Ecuador’s Segundo Mercado in April 1995 bout in Landover, Maryland.
“I feel like a star, like a star because, just if you check Bernard’s opponents probably you understand that my record is much bigger, is much stronger, bigger,” Golovkin said during a conference call last week. “This is a good situation for me and for my career and for my fans, of course. That’s it.”
Hopkins’ 10-year reign came to an end when he lost the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO middleweight championships to Jermain Taylor. The then-unbeaten Taylor topped Hopkins by split decision in July 2005 in Las Vegas and by unanimous decision in their immediate rematch 4½ months later, also Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.