Despite the continued presence of long-reigning middleweight kingpin Sergio Martinez, the historically popular division is more muddled than ever right now. Why? Because the division is also populated by undefeated marauder Gennady Golovkin.
The man can flat-out fight. He’s got everything an up-and-coming boxing superstar needs, and he will likely become the premier stalwart of the middleweight division for years to come.
Likely, but not for sure.
While Martinez stands atop the divisional mountain as the true lineal champion, his aging and injury-prone body, which was originally intended for lighter weight classes, has led some to believe his throne is ripe for the taking.
Indeed, the master of middleweights had to gut out wins over a late-charging Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and a late-fading Martin Murray in his past two bouts just to eke out victories. After each, Martinez sustained serious injuries.
While Martinez rests for the rest of the year, hoping his broken left hand and sore right knee heal up for a run in 2014, the man who may soon become “The Man” (Golovkin) is staying as busy as possible so that he might earn first crack at Martinez upon his return. After all, to be “The Man” in boxing you have to beat “The Man.”
And Sergio Martinez is “The Man” at middleweight.
There is no shortage of strong middleweights to keep Golovkin busy, though. Oh sure, we think he’d beat Martinez, but we often think things that don’t actually happen. Did anyone foresee Abner Mares getting starched last Saturday?
And sure, we all assume he’d pulverize the next level of the division, too—guys like titlists Darren Barker and Peter Quillin, as well as contenders like Daniel Geale, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Martin Murray. But Golovkin has yet to meet a man inside the ring of that caliber.
In fact, a quick glance at his ledger shows Golovkin’s best wins were against opposition that made the most noise of their careers at a lower weight classes. Indeed, the only sincerely notable middleweight Golovkin has defeated to date is Matthew Macklin, a class fighter, but someone who has never earned a world title belt in any of his three tries.
Queensbury-Rules.com contributor Nicholas Ayres-Wearne believes Golovkin is a good fighter but has been given the benefit of the doubt too much in his young career:
A closer look at his record shows a somewhat shallow resume even with his victory over Macklin. It includes wins against Kassim Ouma, once a contender but well past his prime now; Lajuan Simon, who had dropped a decision to Arthur Abraham and the less talented Abraham impersonator Sebastian Sylvester before his loss to Golovkin; Gregorz Proksa, a mid level middleweight at best. Golovkin scored a solid win against Gabriel Rosado, a performance that was enjoyable to watch, but was sadly a mismatch. Rosado, moving up from 154 pounds, did not have the power to worry Golovkin and the fight served as another HBO show case for Golovkin.
So what is Golovkin to do while waiting around for Martinez? Holder of an alphabet belt already, Golovkin gains little more than sanctioning fees by going after fellow titlists Barker and Quillin. Sure, those are great fights on paper, but paper championships don’t often like to be unified.
Still, matches against Barker or Quillin would be worlds better on his resume than treading water against no-hopers and has-beens. Heck, fights against any of the upper-echelon guys would do just fine. Murray, Chavez Jr., Felix Sturm, Andy Lee—whoever.
So surely he’s facing one of those guys next, right? Wrong.
According to Keith Idec of The Record, Golovkin will instead face hard-punching Curtis Stevens Nov. 2 in The Theater at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.
If there’s good news, it is this: Stevens comes to fight. He has serious power in both hands and has shown it as of late in the biggest fights of his career. In fact, the Main Events-promoted slugger has scored Round 1 knockouts in three of his past four fights.
The bad news? The three men he bashed to dreamland in less than three minutes each have 19 total losses between them.
So is Stevens the right fight for Golovkin? Is he the kind of competition Golovkin needs at this point in his career to prove he’s the heir to Martinez’s middleweight throne? Will this fight cause Ayres-Wearne and others to buy into his career?
Not likely. But bashing him quickly into the canvas won’t hurt anything either.