The Hottest Boxing Storylines for the Week of July 21
It's fight week in New York City, and the Gennady Golovkin express train is on its way to the Big Apple.
The Kazakh destroyer defends his WBA and IBO Middleweight Championships against Daniel Geale on Saturday night at the big room in Madison Square Garden.
Can GGG claim the most high-profile victim of his career?
Or will the Aussie shock the world by downing the seemingly invincible champion?
The spotlight will also be on the heavyweight division this coming weekend, with a pair of fights sure to help sort out the increasingly complex mix in the realm of the big boys.
Does Tyson Fury have what it takes to beat a more focused Dereck Chisora for a second time?
And who will win a showdown between a pair of undefeated heavyweights, Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez, at Madison Square Garden?
Plus, we assess Guillermo Rigondeaux's controversial win this past weekend in Macau, China. Will the victory do anything to bring Rigo closer to a big fight?
These are the hottest boxing storylines for the week of July 21.
Can Gennady Golovkin Lay Waste to Another Opponent?
Golovkin has developed a reputation as one of boxing’s fiercest stalkers, a boogeyman-type figure who haunts the sleep of top-tier middleweights everywhere and has most of them cowering in fear at the mere thought of facing him in the ring.
The 32-year-old Kazakh has stopped his last 16 opponents—many in the first few rounds—en route to a knockout rate just a tick below 90 percent and the WBA Middleweight Championship.
Even with the belt, Golovkin, or GGG as he’s known, has struggled to attract the type of high-profile bouts that would definitively answer some of the lingering questions that surround his meteoric rise.
Some fans remain skeptical about how he’ll fare against truly elite opponents, and instead—largely not his fault—he’s mostly been forced to feed on fighters who make up the second tier. Quality fighters, yes, but not of the type which would justify—in some eyes—all the hype he’s received.
On Saturday night, he’ll face the most accomplished foe of his career.
Geale is a seasoned former world champion in his own right, and he’s a clear step up from the Osumanu Adamas and Curtis Stevens’ of the world.
Golovkin has a chance to make a statement in his first appearance at the big room at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. If he runs through Geale in the way he has so many of his other opponents, that would go a long way to showing that the hype isn’t misplaced.
Does Daniel Geale Have Any Shot of Derailing the Golovkin Train?
Geale deserves credit for being one of the—if not the—only Top 10 middleweights to dare go near Golovkin. Most of the others have avoided the guy like he has the plague, and much of that has to do with his hard-hitting style.
But this fight seems to be the perfect confluence of events coming together.
Golovkin badly needed a fight against a recognizable, name opponent, and Geale—who had a fight with former GGG knockout victim Matthew Macklin canceled earlier this year—was desperate for another crack at a world championship.
And that’s pretty much how we got here.
The 33-year-old Aussie held a share of the middleweight crown for two years before losing a close split verdict against Darren Barker in 2012. His notable wins include solid pros like Roman Karmazin, Anthony Mundine and Felix Sturm.
Geale, who often goes by the moniker Real Deal, is a solid boxer, and it’s quite possible that many fans are taking him for granted in this matchup. But is it possible that Golovkin is as well?
It seems improbable—the Kazakh is known for his work ethic and professional approach—but not impossible.
This is a pretty significant event, and Geale isn’t coming just to have his head figuratively stuffed and hung on the wall as the most prominent of Golovkin’s victims.
He’s not making the long trip from Australia just to be an opponent. He’s coming to win, and you can expect him to, at the very least, present GGG with a trick or two we haven’t seen him face before.
At least we can hope that he does.
Can Tyson Fury Do It Again or Will Dereck Chisora Get Revenge?
It’s not exactly breaking news that Fury and Chisora, probably the two best British heavyweights in the game today—at least until Anthony Joshua fully develops—don’t like each other.
In fact, that makes up basically the entire backstory for their big heavyweight rematch this coming Saturday at the Phones 4u Arena (formerly the M.E.N. Arena) in Manchester, England.
Fury defeated Chisora in pretty convincing fashion in 2011, scoring a unanimous decision and beginning a stretch in which Del Boy dropped four of five fights.
He’s since rebounded with five straight wins, capturing the European Boxing Union Heavyweight Championship along with a couple of second-tier international titles to get back in the heavyweight mix.
During that stretch, he recommitted himself to the sport, coming into his fights in better shape and toning down some of his more over-the-top antics.
Fury, on the other hand, has shown very little sign of slowing down. The towering Brit is just as brash as ever, and he doesn’t particularly care if you like it or not.
The stakes are as high as ever for both men in this fight. The winner will become the mandatory challenger for one of recognized heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s several belts.
With that on the line, plus the BBBofC and EBU belts, it just adds fuel to a rivalry that is about to boil over once again.
Who Will Take the Next Step? Bryant Jennings or Mike Perez?
A pair of undefeated rising heavyweights will also do battle at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, as Bryant Jennings (18-0) and Mike Perez (20-0-1) meet in a bout to help shake out the contenders from pretenders.
Jennings and Perez were originally scheduled to meet in May, but a shoulder injury forced the Ireland-based Cuban to withdraw and postpone the fight.
The 29-year-old Jennings will be making his second appearance at MSG—his first fight was in the small room at the Theater—and he would seem to be the fighter with the wind at his back.
Perez engaged in a fierce battle—also at the Theater—against Russian power-puncher Magomed Abdusalamov last November in a fight better known for its tragic aftermath.
After 10 absolutely brutal rounds, Perez had his hand raised, but Abdusalamov’s problems were only beginning. He was rushed to the hospital after the fight and placed into a medically induced coma to relieve pressure on his brain, the result of swelling from a blood clot.
While in the coma, Abdusalamov suffered a stroke, further complicating an already grim prognosis. His condition has since improved somewhat, but the impact of these events on Perez has been noticeable.
Facing the lightly regarded—at least at the time—Carlos Takam in January, Perez was lucky to escape with a draw in a fight that some felt he lost. He wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he normally is, leading to some speculation that the tragic events had made him reluctant in the ring.
If that’s the case, Jennings, who is known for his boxing ability and not as much his power, will pounce on him.
The stakes are extremely high here.
Jennings will be looking to claim the biggest win of his professional career, and Perez will be looking to show he can put the events of last year behind him.
Most importantly, both men will be looking to show they are contenders in a suddenly competitive heavyweight mix.
Can Guillermo Rigondeaux Find a Fight Now?
Rigondeaux, the unified super-bantamweight champion made a successful return to the ring on Saturday at the Cotai Arena in Macau, blowing out the overmatched Sod Kokietgym in somewhat controversial fashion in the first round.
The bout, which wasn’t televised on HBO despite the network picking up the other main bouts on the card, ended suddenly and with little warning.
With 1:40 remaining in the opening round, the two fighters clashed heads. Kokietgym got the worst of the exchange, falling to the canvas in pain and prompting the referee to call time.
After rising from the mat, the fighters appeared to reach out to touch gloves, with Rigondeaux quickly pouncing with a right-left combo that collapsed his foe in a scene reminiscent of Floyd Mayweather's knockout of Victor Ortiz.
Time was—as then—technically in, but it once again drew questions about the razor-thin line that sometimes exists between protecting yourself at all times and throwing a sucker punch.
Either way, Rigondeaux emerged with the win—and didn't violate any rules—in what is possibly his last fight with promoter Top Rank. Bob Arum’s company has seen its relationship with the Cuban-born fighter grow increasingly sour over the past few years, largely due to the difficulty finding him significant fights and networks willing to televise them.
Rigondeaux holds the WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight Championships, and he called out fellow champions Leo Santa Cruz and Kiko Martinez before the bout, per Lem Satterfield of The Ring, but it remains to be seen whether he can land one of those fights.
This win notwithstanding, he remains a high-risk, low-reward opponent without much drawing power. You can appreciate his subtle mastery of the sweet science, but he just doesn’t move the needle where it counts the most.
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