Give The Man His Belt Already!

(Photo by Chris Farina, K2 Promotions)

Odds are that it will take you longer to read this column than it did for unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin to tear through previously-undefeated pretender contender Dominic Wade (now 18-1, 12 KOs) before a pro-GGG sell-out crowd of 16,353 at The Forum in Inglewood, California this past Saturday night. After just five minutes and 37 seconds, Wade succumbed to the GGG onslaught and crumpled to the ring canvas for the third and final time as Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) scored his 22nd straight knockout victory and 35th victory overall. With the win, Golovkin increased his knockout percentage to .914—the highest in middleweight history—and moved to within four wins of Bernard Hopkins’ middleweight division record of 20 consecutive title defenses.

From the opening bell, the outcome was never in doubt. (It wasn’t really in doubt from the day the fight was announced, but one can hardly blame GGG for facing the IBF’s undeserving mandatory challenger.) In the first round, Wade came out trying to establish his jab, not so much designed to hurt GGG but, rather, hoping to keep the Kazakh fighter off of him and buy time before the inevitable. Wade’s jab didn’t offer much and with just seconds to go in the opening round, Golovkin landed a clubbing right hand behind Wade’s ear, which landed Wade on the seat of his pants. Under the Unified Rules of Boxing, a fighter cannot be saved by the bell in any round, and although Wade was back on his feet at the five-count, he clearly was saved by the bell as the round came to a close. Admirable in his bravery by continuing where so many of Golovkin’s previous opponents had folded, it was just a matter of time before Wade’s title hopes would come crashing down.

Blood was in the water as the bell rang at the start of Round Two. Golovkin came out strafing Wade with right and left hooks and uppercuts, which rocked Wade from ring post-to-ring post. Wade didn’t have much on Saturday night and Golovkin knew it. In fact, Golovkin dropped his hands to his waist about midway through the round and allowed Wade to land a couple of clean blows to his face. Golovkin, smiling at Wade as he landed, was unfazed. Just shy of the two-minute mark, GGG tagged Wade with a left uppercut followed by a right, which put Wade down for the second time in the fight. Wade barely rose by the nine-count as veteran referee Jack Reiss asked him, “Do you want to continue? Look at me. Do you want to continue? Yes? Say it again. Say it again.” Wade seemed to be whispering to Reiss that he wanted to continue, hoping perhaps that Golovkin wouldn’t hear and might spare him the continued beating. No such luck and just 14 seconds later the “Goodboy Killah” put Wade to sleep with yet another right. Wade couldn’t get up and Reiss waved the fight off. GGG provided yet another in a long line of clinical performances against overmatched foes who, for their parts, have the hubris to step into the ring with the human wrecking ball, but just not the skill set to conquer.

After the fight, attention immediately turned to the looming mega-fight between Golovkin and his white whale, WBC title-holder and lineal champion, Canelo Alvarez. Golovkin, owning the WBC’s “interim” title (a belt not worth much more than the circa-2001 French Connection brown leather belt that holds up my own jeans) is the mandatory challenger for Canelo’s title. In fact, he’s been the mandatory for some time, but Canelo and his handlers at Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions paid Golovkin some step-aside money to allow Canelo to fight Amir Khan on May 7, 2016 at the shiny new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. When questioned by Max Kellerman in the post-fight interview following his knockout of Wade about a potential fight with Canelo in late Summer, Golovkin smiled and, in his trademark broken English, shouted, “Give me my belt, I’m ready to fight!” The crowd erupted. Golovkin wants the fight. Golovkin’s manager and promoter want the fight. The fans want the fight. Heck, even the WBC wants the fight. The only ones who don’t seem to be Canelo and De La Hoya.

Golovkin is the boogey man. The veneer of his boyish moon face hides beneath it a monster. No one wants to fight him. Golovkin wins. Golovkin hurts you.

Billy Joe Saunders, the current WBO middleweight champion, was reportedly offered $3.2 million to fight Golovkin. He turned it down, demanding $6 million instead. It was a blatant ducking of Golovkin – one that, sadly, has become the norm for prospective GGG opponents. Even though he holds the middleweight (i.e., 160 pounds) title, Canelo has made no bones that a fight with Golovkin would only be made at 155 pounds (even though, on fight nights, Canelo generally enters the ring at more than 170 pounds on the unofficial scales). Fighting for a middleweight title but demanding that Golovkin step on the scale at 155 pounds or less when, on the night of the fight, Canelo almost assuredly will outweigh him is, at best, straight out of Kafka; at worst, it’s just plain stupid. Alas, it is the norm in boxing nowadays. Gone are the days when the best fought the best. Where are you Marvelous Marvin Hagler versus Tommy Hearns? Hagler versus Roberto Duran? Hagler versus Sugar Ray Leonard? Duran versus Leonard (twice)? Duran versus Hearns? Leonard versus Hearns (twice)? Coo coo ca choo . . .

De La Hoya has justified the delay in making the Canelo-Golovkin fight by explaining, “We have to do a little marinating for it to be the biggest fight in the sport, it has to happen at the right time.” Canelo versus Golovkin is tantalizing, perfectly seasoned, and already cooked to a beautiful medium rare. Pair it with a nice, refreshing side of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and let’s get it served already!

(Photo by Chris Farina, K2 Promotions)
(Photo by Chris Farina, K2 Promotions)

The Speed Bag

A couple of thoughts and quick hits from around the boxing world . . .

  • Chris Algieri, welcome to the world of Josesito Lopez who parlayed a nice win against Victor Ortiz in June 2012 (a fight where underdog Lopez broke both Ortiz’s jaw and his spirit forcing the latter to quit on his stool after Round Nine) into a couple of nice paydays against Canelo, Marcos Maidana, and Andre Berto (knocked out in Rounds Five, Six, and Six, respectively). Algieri scored a debatable split-decision win against Ruslan Provodnikov in 2014 and, then, landed and lost fights to Manny Pacquiao, where he was knocked down six times en route to a near shut-out loss, Amir Khan, and Errol Spence, Jr., who knocked him out. Chris, at least you’ve given us some pretty good laughs along the way. Like when, during the Pacquiao fight, your former trainer, Tim Lane, told the cable network during an in-fight interview that you were “gonna put [Pacquiao] asleep here in a few minutes. . . . I’ve got [Algieri] in the cage right now. I’ma let him out of the cage” to knock Pacquiao out while you immediately proceeded to get dropped. We’ll always share those laughs as you fade back into obscurity.
  • As a District of Columbia resident, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of really quality fight cards that have come to the area recently. First, we had the exciting Jessie Vargas versus Sadam Ali/Luis Ortiz versus Bryant Jennings fights at the D.C. Armory in March, then the Adrien Broner versus Floyd Mayweather-promoted Ashley Theophane fight at the beginning of April. Next we have some good fights in Lucian Bute versus Badou Jack and James DeGale versus Rogelio Medina this weekend bookending the month. Big up to the DC Boxing Commission and its Chairman, Adam Weers; nice work in helping get these cards finalized.
  • Speaking of Adrien “The Problem” Broner, it looks like the biggest problem he may face over the next few months is being able to get in touch with his attorney from his jail cell in Ohio after back-to-back arrests for battery and, then a few days later, reckless driving. Broner makes Kelly Pavlik, another great but troubled boxing talent coming out of the Buckeye State, look like he’s got his act together. Although, let’s not pretend that Pavlik isn’t in deep doo doo himself after recently having been indicted on felony charges after being accused of shooting a man with a pellet gun. I know Pavlik’s not a Mensa candidate but still . . .
  • Finally, Floyd Mayweather posted photos of his recent trip to Paris to his various social media accounts proving that, while he may be a millionaire a gajillion times over and the best pound-for-pound boxer of a generation, he too can’t avoid the allure of ridiculous tourist pictures that fill the rest of us common folks’ photo albums. It’s good to see that we have that in common.
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Dan Blynn is a Partner in Venable LLP's national Advertising and Marketing Practice, and a novice boxer training at the Downtown Boxing Club in Washington, DC.