By Keith Idec
If Gennady Golovkin leaves the ring September 15 with the WBA middleweight championship, he’ll have broken Bernard Hopkins’ record for consecutive 160-pound title defenses.
The 36-year-old Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) tied Hopkins’ record when he produced his 20th straight defense May 5 by knocking out Vanes Martirosyan in the second round. Hopkins made 20 consecutive defenses of the IBF middleweight title from 1996-2005.
Golovkin’s detractors contend that his streak isn’t as meaningful as Hopkins’ mark because Golovkin was one of two middleweight champions recognized by the WBA during the first two years of his title reign, along with Germany’s Felix Sturm. Golovkin won only the WBA’s interim middleweight title in August 2010 and wasn’t able to land a fight against Sturm before Strum lost the WBA’s “super” middleweight title by split decision to Australia’s Daniel Geale in September 2012.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin knocked out Geale, who never defended the WBA’s “super” middleweight title, in the third round of their July 2014 fight at Madison Square Garden.
Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, isn’t worried about how some skeptics will view Golovkin’s streak if he beats Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) in their rematch next month at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (HBO Pay-Per-View).
“You know what? Everybody has an opinion,” Sanchez said during a conference call Wednesday. “The one thing that I can say about Golovkin’s career is he’s never had a rematch with anybody [until now]. That record that you’re talking about, Bernard had rematches with Antwun Echols and Robert Allen, so you can look at it in a way that those kind of counter each other. But he never fought a rematch and not only is Golovkin gonna break the record, he did it in a fashion that Bernard didn’t. He did it in a fashion with mostly knockouts. So I’m content with the fact that he’s gonna break it.”
Hopkins’ record also includes a no-contest against Allen. That no-contest stemmed from Hopkins suffering an injury when he fell out of the ring, the consequence of referee Miles Lane accidentally pushing him while trying to break up a clinch with Allen during their August 1998 bout in Las Vegas.
Philadelphia’s Hopkins stopped Allen in the seventh round of their immediate rematch in February 1999. Hopkins also beat Allen by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight in June 2004.
“Both Gennady and I have a tremendous amount of respect for Bernard and what he has accomplished, and what he continues to accomplish in the sport,” Sanchez said. “It would be an honor to be mentioned, for my fighter to be mentioned in the same breath with Bernard Hopkins. I think it’s important to set goals that we wanna reach, and to reach this one I thought would never be possible. I thought that it would never be possible for any fighter, and for me to be involved in that or that possibility is mind-boggling.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.