I was in the press section for Gennady Golovkin’s first fight on American soil, at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. I like to joke that for a boxing writer, this was the equivalent of being in the Ed Sullivan Theater for the Beatle’s first set in the United States. Golovkin tore through Poland’s Grzegorz Proksa, the European middleweight champion and a legitimate top-10 contender at the time. He stopped him inside of five rounds, dropping him three times. In writer’s row, normally reserved fight scribes were using words like “monster.” You knew that you were seeing the start of something special.
Golovkin has since developed into a pound-for-pound star and one of the sport’s most popular fighters. Heading into Saturday’s fight against Canelo Alvarez, he is 37-0 with 33 KOs. But Alvarez will be the first true star Golovkin has faced. Daniel Jacobs, who Golovkin was lucky to beat last March, is a great fighter. But Canelo is the first true box office sensation Golovkin will have faced.
Golovkin has been criticized by fans who are prone to criticize for the lack of star power on his resume. He is hardly to blame for that. When Sergio Martinez was the middleweight champion, he avoided Golovkin to face Miguel Cotto. When Cotto won the title, he avoided Golovkin, as well. Even Canelo waited over a year after defeating Cotto to make the fight that had to be made.
Now, finally, the fight is almost upon us. In my mind, this is the biggest middleweight bout since Bernard Hopkins knocked out Oscar De La Hoya.
If Golovkin wins, I feel he will owe a rematch to Jacobs. I do not consider Golovkin’s UD over Jacobs a robbery, but I also disagree with it. I had Jacobs winning seven rounds to five.