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Why Gennady Golovkin's Subpar Performance Will Propel Him To Sporting Superstardom

Why Gennady Golovkin's Subpar Performance Will Propel Him To Sporting Superstardom
By Gavan Casey
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Climbing two weight divisions to tackle the most feared fighter on the planet was always a quixotic task for Kell Brook, but achieved much in his predictably gallant defeat to Gennady Golovkin - not least by creating an unprecedented perception that the Kazakh bomber is eminently beatable.

Back in December, new WBO World middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders was in conversation with boxing's behind-the-scenes maestros IFL London. When asked if he fancied a shot at his IBF and WBA counterpart, the nuclear-fisted Triple G, he unashamedly laughed off the prospect. "Gennady Golovkin can fuck off," he scoffed.

Golovkin is world class. They are talking about him fighting big fights, I’m sure the Canelo fight is there. I’m 18 months away from that fight, I’m still learning, I’ve just become world champion.

To be fair to the 2008 Olympian - who was fresh off dethroning Ireland's Andy Lee - he qualified the statement by concluding that, were there four or five million pounds on the table, he'd fly to America and throw down with The Beast From The East. His initial reaction was telling, though. Saunders, an undefeated and prodigiously talented world champion, wanted no part of Golovkin. As unfathomable as it seemed, it also struck as refreshingly honest; at least Saunders called it as it was, and didn't shout GGG's name from the hills only to pull a runner when the chips were down.


The aforementioned Canelo was guilty of similar. "As they say in Mexico, we don't fuck around! I'll fight him now!" was Canelo's war-cry following his skull-shuddering KO of Amir Khan. Fuck around Team Canelo did, however, going as far as ditching the WBC World middleweight belt - and the lineal World middleweight crown in turn - in order not to trade leather with GGG. About as brazen a concession as one will ever witness in the sport of boxing, but par for the course where Golovkin's career is concerned.

The Kazakh body-snatcher has held at least one version of the middleweight championship since 2010. He was won 18 consecutive world title fights, all of them finishing inside the distance. Since he first picked up a world belt, 18 other men have also won a version of the world title. Just two of these men have dared pit their wits against the world's finest (though, to Andy Lee's credit, a fight between the pair was cancelled in 2014 due to the death of Golovkin's father).

But Golovkin's relatively timid beating of Kell Brook in London on Saturday brought with it a paradigm shift. The iron man from Kazakhstan found himself on the receiving end of some eye-catching, head-snapping combinations from the superb Brook, before the latter's corner rightly ended proceedings due to an eyesight-threatening injury. One by one, the pretenders to the throne dusted off their egos and raised their hands, with both fans and fighters alike gleefully putting the Golovkin narrative in reverse.



And, in fairness, Golovkin is not invincible. He never has been. But the notion that he's in some way weaker than previously perceived, on the back of a deserved TKO5, is frankly laughable. His bemused, borderline embarrassed post-fight interview spoke volumes as to his mental approach to what amounted to a risk-free fight against a smaller man:



Sorry, he is not middleweight. This is not his weight. I respect him, he is good, and... Not so strong.

His comical impression of his own static head withstanding Brook's fleeting barrages said it all: he knew he could afford to eat shots for lunch and still come forward and tee off. He was, after all, fighting a man who wasn't considered by anyone but Sky Sports to be a ballistic puncher even 13 pounds below the middleweight limit.

And while Golovkin at times seemed sloppier than usual offensively, it's also worth noting that he landed 44% of his total punches - an absurdly high proportion for what was ultimately one of his worst performances as a world champion. But Brook's shots - despite Golovkin's protestations to the contrary - annoyed the Kazakh maestro. He left his corner at the start of the fifth like a man possessed, an elite-level fighter scorned by questions about an 'epic encounter' from football journalists who had been put on the boxing for the week that was.

Of course, due to Brook's own ability and sheer diligence, along with the raucous crowd behind him, it did transpire to play out as a scrap of rather epic proportions, and one which may finally goad GGG's middleweight rivals into trying to emulate Brook and then some. Watching the World middleweight champion get lit up on a couple of occasions, you couldn't help but imagine Oscar De La Hoya smirk a full 9,000km across the Atlantic, as he slowly rears his star pupil upwards from 'Caneloweight' and towards the biggest showdown in boxing (tentatively scheduled for next Autumn).


WBO champion Saunders was also quick to respond to Golovkin's challenge, where just 10 months ago he unapologetically shied away.

Out of the woodwork once more, too, came the divisive Chris Eubank, who headed for the hills when asked to put pen to paper last time out.

Where just three months ago Golovkin was forced to turn to a welterweight in Brook to both line his pockets and create his 'big drama show', he has now established himself as a household boxing name in a thriving UK scene, and has challengers queuing up for a shot at the mythical World middleweight title. He could conceivably fight twice more in London before an eventual showdown with Canelo in late 2017, or perhaps squeeze a Stateside clash with Danny Jacobs or Andy Lee in between.

In an era which finds the sweet science hankering for a marquee star, the most compelling and avoided fighter on the planet is now getting called out at will by the chasing pack, and should finally be granted the opportunity to leave behind the legacy he's dreamt of since he was a child. More fool those who read too far into his subpar performance, which should transpire to become the watershed moment that births boxing's first transcendent star of the decade.

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