Gennady Golovkin’s devastating fifth-round stoppage of European middleweight champion and legitimate contender Grzegorz Proksa in his recent HBO debut put the middleweight division—and adjacent weight classes—on notice.
The hard-hitting, technically sound Golovkin (24-0, 21 KO) knocked Proksa (28-2, 21 KO) down three times, unleashing thudding combinations and a vicious body attack.
The victory was clinical and brutal, and given Golovkin’s impressive performance on a major network, it will soon be hard for the top fighters at 160 pounds to justifying ducking him.
Golovkin will take another step to enhance his profile with the broader boxing public when he makes his ring return, according to RingTV.com’s Lem Satterfield, on January 19 at Madison Square Garden:
"Kazakhstan-born WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin will make a defense of his belt against an opponent to be determined on Jan. 19 at New York's Madison Square Garden in an event to be co-promoted with Golovkin's K2 Promotions, according to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum."
However, when scouring the WBA middleweight rankings, it becomes quickly apparent that the sanctioning body’s Top15 is devoid of both big names and elite talent.
Aside from Felix Sturm—who has made a habit of ducking Golovkin—few names other than Martin Murray, Sebastian Zbik, Andy Lee and Matthew Macklin will resonate with North American audiences.
Now, North American marketability isn’t the sole arbiter a prizefighter’s success, but it is a factor to consider when networks like HBO are involved in making and selling a fight.
Golovkin would likely annihilate any of the aforementioned Top15 WBA contenders, a fact that Satterfield alludes to when speculating as to whether Golovkin’s next fight will actually be a middleweight title defense:
"Tom Loeffler, of K2 Promotions, claims that [Daniel] Geale turned down a lucrative fight against Golovkin on HBO to sign for the [Anthony] Mundine fight, and also said that Golovkin is considering a rise into the super middleweight division, where he could face 6-4 South African Thomas Oosthuizen (20-0, 13 KOs) [sic]."
Before addressing the issue of Golovkin-Geale not materializing (at least for now), the prospect of Golovkin moving up in weight to fight Oosthuizen—should the South African defeat Fulgencio Zuniga on November 10—is an intriguing one.
Satterfield cites BoxingScene.com’s Rick Reeno to confirm that talks between Golovkin’s team and Oosthuizen’s promoter, Lou DiBella, are indeed serious.
Oosthuizen is an exciting, volume punching super middleweight who throws suffocating combinations. At 6’4, Oosthuizen, who currently owns the IBO super middleweight title, is a rangy fighter, and he would have a significant height and reach advantage over Golovkin.
That said, it is hard to fathom a fighter—other than perhaps Sergio Martinez or the genuinely elite pugilists at 168—who will be able to stop Golovkin’s steady surge of momentum.
Even though he would be the smaller man against Oosthuizen, Golovkin’s brutal body punching and natural power should prove decisive.
As for Daniel Geale (28-1, 15 KO), ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael argues that opting to defend his IBF title against Australian countryman Anthony Mundine instead of facing Golovkin is a more lucrative option and gives Geale the chance to avenge his only career defeat.
Given that both Geale and Golovkin will fight in January, the prospect of an eventual IBF/WBA unification fight remains a possibility.
Should this bout materialize, the winner of Golovkin-Geale, having further enhanced their profile, would make an economically viable and dangerous option for lineal champion Sergio Martinez.
Is Gennady Golovkin worthy of all the hype he's received?
Another reason to support Golovkin’s potential super middleweight venture is the fact that on November 24, Jorge Navarro (12-0, 10 KO) will fight Martin Murray (24-0-1, 10 KO) for the WBA’s “interim” middleweight title.
Without intending any disrespect toward Navarro or Murray, fans will undoubtedly want to see Golovkin fight a marquee name instead of settling for a mandatory title defense.
As Golovkin awaits the chance to fight Geale (and others), testing himself at 168 pounds against Oosthuizen could help create important inroads at super middleweight that might eventually lead to a title shot at that weight, or perhaps a showdown with lineal champion Andre Ward (wishful thinking, I know).
As for Golovkin fighting other champions and top contenders hovering around 160 pounds, DoghouseBoxing.com’s John J. Raspanti reports that Golovkin’s sparring sessions with Antonio Margarito, Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. while training in Big Bear only added to his “mystique,” especially the way Golovkin allegedly “handled Chavez Jr. and humbled Alvarez.”
The word “mystique” is apt when discussing Golovkin.
Whether it’s his exciting knockouts or dominant sparring sessions, there seems to be an ample amount of myth behind the concrete evidence of Golovkin’s thus far dominant professional career.
Whether he eventually unifies middleweight belts, or opts for a hasty move to super middleweight, the hope is that Golovkin will be able to parlay the buzz he has created into the big fights he deserves.
From what fans and pundits have seen so far, there is only evidence that Golovkin will rise to the occasion.