• Boxing

Golovkin: Nobody wants him

Steve Bunce January 28, 2014
Golovkin has the middleweight division running scared © Getty Images
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Nobody really cares about Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin and what that means in the boxing business is that nobody wants to fight the WBA middleweight champion from Kazakstan.

The other middleweight champions and leading contenders talk boldly of beating him but their handlers have more sense; the other three middleweight champions Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez and Peter Quillin have no plans to fight him. To be honest, I don't blame them.

On Saturday in a tiny casino in Monte Carlo, Golovkin will defend his WBA title for the 11th time, looking for his 11th consecutive stoppage and hopefully a win that sets him on a complicated flight path that eventually leads to a big, big fight.

Buncey's Vaults

Naseem Hamed outclassed Steve Robinson © Getty Images
  • It was a miserable night in Cardiff when Naseem Hamed won the WBO featherweight title from Steve Robinson, watched by 16,000 expectant fans.
  • It was an ugly fight with Hamed regularly asking Robinson: '"Who is stronger now, Steve?"' Hamed dominated, hurting and dropping Robinson and breaking the local boxer's heart. I wrote that in Robinson's corner Ronnie Rush and Dai Gardener 'performed their corner rituals with all the enthusiasm of two relatives at a wake'.
  • It ended in the eighth round with Robinson down and out. The crowd screamed abuse at Hamed, who had been hit by coins when he made his way to the ring, but Robinson embraced the Sheffield boxer when it was over. 'Their outrageous complaints were in stark contrast to the courage of the man they came to support'.
  • Hamed would go on and make 15 defences in a career that tumbled out of control. I wrote, as a footnote, that Hamed needed protection 'from his own genius and the prowlers whose emergence during the last 18 months have caused some concern'. They continued to cause concern.
  • Reported in The Independent, October 1, 1995.

"The truth is that nobody wants to fight Gennady," insists Abel Sanchez, who trains the fighter at his Big Bear gym in California. "He is too good and even in sparring world champions are reluctant to share the ring with him - there is a lot of talk, but not a lot of action."

Golovkin has won all 28 of his fights and only three men have survived the distance. He controls every inch of the ring, never wastes a punch and seems to calculate the chilling endings of his fights with a remorseless precision that stuns the men he sends tumbling. "He cuts off every bit of the ring and every punch hurts," said Matt Macklin, who lost in a title fight last year when Golovkin cracked him in the ribs after just three rounds.

Macklin had previously lost world title fights to Sturm, on a diabolical decision, and Martinez, when he was ruled out in the 11th round of a torrid brawl: Golovkin never dropped a single bead of sweat or tried a smile during Macklin's defeat.

The trip to Monte Carlo for Golovkin unfortunately means that this Saturday's fight will not get the exposure in America that he finally started to receive last year. A plan to screen the fight was scrapped by his American broadcaster because the intimate casino, with a capacity of just 900, was simply not big enough for the channel's "needs".

It was only last year that Lou DiBella, an old-school New York fight manager and promoter, beautifully dismissed Golovkin's chances of meeting his main fighter, Martinez. In a foul-mouthed but exquisitely crafted rant, which owed more to maverick film director Quentin Tarrantino than any boxing bards, DiBella officially declared Golovkin the world's No. 1 avoided fighter without even trying. "Who the ******* **** is Golovkin?" DiBella asked. Sweet Lou is a wise man.

On Saturday in Monte Carlo, Golovkin fights Osumanu Adama, who has never been stopped and has lost just three of his 25 fights. Adama's toughness and pride will make the fight hard to watch - Golovkin hurts people and he does it for fun. Sadly, for him and for boxing fans it looks like he will continue to fight men that are brave enough to meet him and not the champions that should be desperate to fight him and prove their credentials. Boxing is, we need to never forget, seldom fair. And it is always a business; Golovkin and his people need to get better at negotiating.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.