In the record books, Gennady Golovkin’s win over David Lemieux last Saturday night will look a lot like the rest of his wins over the past several years. It was yet another dismantling, a Round 8 TKO of the game but overmatched French Canadian. The major difference this time will appear to be that Lemieux was a fellow belt holder. The valiant Lemieux was the first titlist brave enough to meet GGG in a unification fight.
But it wasn’t exactly business as usual for Gennady Golovkin. The charismatic fighter from Kazakhstan with the granite fists and the disarming smile has made it a habit in his skyrocket ride to the top to walk down opponents and pound them out in a manner clearly reminiscent of the great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. Trained by future Hall of Famer Abel Sanchez, Golovkin has vocally embraced “the Mexican style,” a take-no-prisoners, come-forward approach to laying down destruction in the ring.
Golovkin’s hard fists and equally hard chin have made this a very successful formula. Moreover, it is a fan-friendly manner of fighting that has helped catapult him to his current status as boxing’s next emerging superstar. But against Lemieux, Golovkin looked a bit more like the classically trained, Soviet bloc amateur that he once was.
Facing an opponent with truly dangerous power, Golovkin fell back on that most basic but effective boxing technique: the jab. On Saturday night, Golovkin put on a clinic with his lead left that had heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko himself raving on twitter.
As a result of his work with the jab, Gennady Golovkin was in complete control of pace and distance throughout the fight. He landed with the jab at will, snapping Lemieux’s head back again and again. He was able to string hooks to the body and head off from the jab, and use the jab to set up his big right hand. The result was a punishing night for Lemieux.
Gennady Golovkin’s iron chin was still an important factor in the fight. Lemieux never gave up trying to land his big punch and in a few spots, he did connect with the kind of thudding left hooks that have sent other world-class opponents tumbling to the canvas. Against Golovkin, they barely seemed to register.
But this, too, can be partly attributed to the great work he was doing with his jab. Working behind that busy, battering ram shot, Gennady Golovkin was able to maintain perfect footwork and positioning all night long. When he did get hit by big shots from Lemieux, he was always positioned to see them coming, his feet perfectly set to absorb the blow.
Now that he’s a bonafide pay-per-view star, Gennady Golovkin will hopefully be able to attract the fights necessary to give him a chance at becoming a true, undisputed champion at middleweight. In an ideal world, he would fight the winner of next month’s clash between Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez for Cotto’s WBC belt. I have to think WBO champ Andy Lee would welcome the kind of payday GGG now represents.
One thing is for sure. At this point, boxing fans are going to view the middleweight division as GGG and everybody else.