One thing’s for sure. Gennady Golovkin isn’t Floyd Mayweather Jr.
But it’s not simply because they fight on different cable networks and in different weight classes.
Think of Mayweather and you’re likely to have the image of the modern-day athlete: rich beyond comprehension, tuned in to social media and unafraid to indulge in self-promotion.
Golovkin, on the other hand, is every bit as old school as “Money” is new. Or, as announcer Stu Nahan put it in Rocky, he’s the caveman to Mayweather’s cavalier.
Born in Kazakhstan and living in Germany, Golovkin took a while to reach the public consciousness, but he’s done so now with an aggressive, power-punching and fan-friendly style that’s attracted the attention of HBO—which will televise this weekend’s middleweight title bout with Matthew Macklin.
Against Macklin he’ll be aiming to continue the knockout streak that seems to have people most excited about his appearance. No fighter has lasted the scheduled distance with Golovkin since June 2008, a span of five years and 13 fights—in which he’s worked just 45 rounds, an average of 3.5 per fight.
He’s gone to the scorecards just three times in 26 pro fights, once in 2007 and twice in 2008.
The prospect of making short work of foes has Golovkin and his team excited, too.
“That’s the sort of style I like to fight with,” said the 31-year-old, who’ll defend his IBO title belt for the fifth time and his full-fledged WBA belt for the third time. The WBA named him its “regular” world champion in 2010 but listed Felix Sturm as “super” champion until he was dethroned last September.
“I like to pressure my opponent and use my power. And it’s a style that the fans like, too.”
His manager, Tom Loeffler, concurs with his man’s assessment.
“Gennady has so much experience and success in the amateurs that he can adapt to any style of fighter,” he said. “His style is that of seek and destroy. He is the hardest-punching middleweight that I have ever seen and he carries his power in both hands.
“When he won the IBO title, he stopped Lujuan Simon, a fighter that had never been down in his entire career, with a perfectly placed left hook in the first round.”
In the IBO’s computerized rankings, which list the champions of all sanctioning bodies, Golovkin is fourth behind WBC champ Sergio Martinez, IBF champ Daniel Geale and WBO champ Peter Quillin.
Not surprisingly, Loeffler has a different view of the middleweight landscape.
“We feel that Gennady is truly that best fighter at either 154 or 160,” he said. “Sergio Martinez is recognized as the best middleweight right now and we all have a lot of respect for him. I think the winners of the upcoming middleweight fights should fight each other to truly determine who the best middleweight in the world is.”
Of course, if things don’t pan out at 160, movement is an option—perhaps putting him on the map for bouts with the more lucrative opponents available at super middleweight or junior middleweight.
“Gennady and his trainer, highly regarded Abel Sanchez, have made it clear that they would fight anyone from 154 pounds to 168 pounds,” Loeffler said. “There are not many fighters that will be willing to move up or down from their ideal weight depending on the opportunities in the ring.”
The Macklin fight will be Golovkin’s third in the United States out of his past four, after beginning his career with 12 fights in Germany, then branching out to Denmark, Panama and Kazakhstan.
The move across the Atlantic was no coincidence, and provides what the team considers to be the best platform for stardom.
“Gennady realizes that to be truly successful on a world stage, he has to be successful in the United States,” Loeffler said. “He is the type of fighter that will fight anywhere, but wants to be known in the United States, which is the biggest platform and audience for boxing.
“We would continue to take the biggest fights out there. First would be to fight the biggest names in the middleweight division and defeat all of the other champions. Then he could move down to 154 depending on who is still champion, or move to 168. I have never seen a fighter who carries so much power in the middleweight division and can move up or down and keep the same power."
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first hand.