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Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2014

Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    This Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, undefeated WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin defends his belt against former champion Daniel Geale of Australia. A native of Kazakhstan, GGG has become wildly popular among North American fans since his U.S. debut in September 2012. 

    Golovkin has knocked out 16 straight opponents, but Geale could be his toughest opponent to date. He's an experienced, world-class fighter who has been near the top of the middleweight division for years.

    It's become an event whenever GGG fights. His clash with Geale should be one of the most watched fights this summer. 

Tale of the Tape

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    Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press
    Per Boxrec     Gennady Golovkin    Daniel Geale
    Record:     29-0, 26 KOs    30-2, 16 KOs
    Height:     5'10.5"    5'10"
    Reach:     70"    71"
    Weight:     160 lbs    160 lbs
    Age:     32    33
    Stance:     Orthodox    Orthodox
    Hometown:     Karaganda, Kazakhstan    Launceston, Australia
    Rounds:     124    237

    On paper, Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Geale look pretty similar. A year separates them in age, an inch in reach and a mere half-inch in height. 

    The one stat that truly separates them is knockout percentage. Geale's is 50 percent, while GGG's is an eye-popping 90. As a result, Geale has fought over 100 more rounds, despite having just three more fights. 

Main Storylines

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Gennady Golovkin has been one of the biggest stories in boxing over the past few years. The Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan has been a terror in the professional ranks, knocking out 26 of 29 opponents while compiling a perfect record.

    Golovkin has been one of the most avoided fighters in the sport and has had trouble finding big-name opponents willing to risk a fight with him. A former IBF and WBA "super" champion, Daniel Geale will be the highest-rated fighter he's faced.

    Geale was ordered by the WBA to fight Golovkin in a unification bout after the Australian captured the WBA "super" belt from Felix Sturm via split decision in September 2012. Instead, Geale vacated the title and defended his IBF strap in a rematch with his countryman, Anthony Mundine.

    Geale lost his IBF belt in an exciting split decision to Darren Barker last year. Now that he's looking in on the title picture from the outside, he's decided he has more to gain than lose by risking a fight with the hard-hitting GGG.

    There's a great deal at stake for both men in this fight. For Geale, it's an opportunity to skyrocket back to the top of the division. For Golovkin, it's the chance to blow out a former champion and once more confirm his status as the true top fighter at 160 pounds.  

Strengths

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Gennady Golovkin is a wrecking machine. He hits with tremendous power with both fists and throws fluid, multi-punch combinations to both the body and head. 

    Golovkin was an Olympic silver medalist and has excellent offensive boxing skills. He stalks an opponent and cuts off the ring with brutal efficiency. He has walked through shots from big punchers, so his chin is solid as well. 

    Daniel Geale is a talented, pressure fighter. He has evasive head movement and a good jab. He hooks well off the jab. 

    Geale generally maintains a busy pace. He's a combination puncher who does good work to the body. 

Weaknesses

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Gennady Golovkin has shown very little in the way of weakness in a professional boxing ring. He has not been extremely difficult to hit, but he hasn't been in a position where he needed to worry much about getting hit. 

    Daniel Geale leaves a lot of space to get countered, especially over the top of his hook. He'll need to be cautious trying to hook with a devastating hooker like GGG. 

    Geale can throw a decent professional punch, but he's not a power puncher. That could make his pressure style difficult to implement against a monster like Golovkin. 

Gennady Golovkin Will Win If...

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Gennady Golovkin enters this fight having stopped his last 16 opponents. I expect GGG to do what he does in every fight, which is to close into range on his opponent and then pound him down by hitting him much harder and more often than his opponent can manage to hit him back. 

    Golovkin's biggest challenge in this one might be to simply stay within himself and not get swept into the emotion of the moment. Daniel Geale is not a reigning champion, but he has been ranked as one of the top middleweights campaigning opposite Golovkin in the past few years. The Ring still has him at No. 2 at middleweight behind only Golovkin and the lineal champion Miguel Cotto.  

    This is one of the fights Team Golovkin has been asking for since Golovkin made his U.S. debut in September 2012. He's fighting in Madison Square Garden, which has quickly become a kind of second home for the Kazakhstan native. He'll be the crowd's fighter on Saturday. 

    Golovkin's destructive offense is also extremely methodical. It's why he's so dangerous. He takes opponents apart with a clinical efficiency. 

    In chess, a good player isn't just picking the move in front of him, he's playing out his next several moves in his head as he considers all the possible ways the game might develop off from his move.

    That's a tough thing to do when you are sitting in front of a table, studying a board. To have anything like a game of reasonable length in chess, deliberation time has to be placed on a shot clock. The chess timer is as iconic to tournament chess play as the bell and ropes are to prizefighting. 

    But in prizefighting, "players" must do their calculating in seconds or less while somebody is trying to knock them unconscious or bust their ribs and/or bruise their internal organs. Golovkin is physically gifted, but what has made him special is his ability to see the quickly developing violence of a prize fight slowly enough to respond with well-deliberated-upon tactical choices. 

    He has a great chin, but he also makes sure to finish his own attacks in position to block or slip whatever punches his opponent is likely to respond with. If he does get caught with a punch, he is at least almost always anticipating it. 

    He's had hundreds of elite-level amateur fights and approaches a fight with a sportsmanlike understanding that it is a contest he is trying to win using the training he have spent his life developing. There's not much emotion to his approach, just a kind of brutally beautiful efficiency.

    And the emotions might be revved up a little bit more than usual for Golovkin in this fight. It's arguably the biggest of his career. More importantly, it's the first fight back for him since the sudden death of his father earlier this year and the 40-day mourning period he observed in Germany and Kazakhstan.

    Golovkin should win this fight because he is better across the board than Geale. At the same time, Geale is a world-class fighter and will exploit the sort of openings a fighter might offer up when emotion pushes him to fight with unmeasured adrenaline.

    Golovkin is always mentally focused and properly prepared from his training. If that is 100 percent the case again on Saturday night, he should be able to beat Geale decisively behind his typically honest night of work.  

Daniel Geale Will Win If...

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    Daniel Geale has too good of a resume to dismiss him entirely in this fight. He won a split decision over Felix Sturm in Germany, which is never an easy task. 

    He's an active, skilled pressure fighter who does a good job of staying in the pocket and being ready to punish his opponent for their smallest mistakes.

    But his style is potentially dangerous against a beast like Gennady Golovkin. I hope Geale has been training his head movement and fighting off his back foot. He needs to be ready to defend, tactically retreat, reset and attack within a very tight pocket against GGG. 

    Geale needs to hustle to get off first with his jab, but he also needs to understand that even if he lands that punch perfectly, there is almost certainly something heavy on the way from Golovkin.

    There are circumstances under which Geale can win this fight. But if it's going to happen, he's going to need to box with an Olympic medalist in some spots and brawl with one of the most dangerous punchers in the world at others.

     

Prediction

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    USA TODAY Sports

    In September 2012, I was at the press conference after Gennady Golovkin's U.S. debut, a Round 5 stoppage of Grzegorz Proksa in Verona, New York, at Turning Stone. Earlier in the day, in Germany, IBF champ Daniel Geale had won a hard-fought split decision to snag Felix Sturms' WBA "super" belt. 

    At that point in history, based purely on resume, Geale deserved to rank over Golovkin, who was merely the WBA's "regular" champion. As a matter of policy, I generally don't even view a WBA "regular" champion as a true world champ. 

    Geale, then WBC and lineal champion Sergio Martinez and undefeated WBO champ Peter Quillin were the three primary fights that Team Golovkin asked for that night. At the time, Geale chose to vacate his claim to the WBA strap rather than make a mandated unification bout. 

    Geale's hard-fought loss to Darren Barker last year didn't really diminish his standing. But he did lose his belt and deserves respect for taking the quickest-but-toughest route possible to get a piece of hardware back around his waist. 

    But Golovkin is a special talent. He'll take his time and resist Geale's efforts to control the pace of the bout. He'll make Geale wary of his power in the early rounds and use the tough Australian's mounting caution to force more errors, since a fighter like Geale is not used to feeling overwhelmed. 

    In prizefighting, they talk about the deep waters. Geale's been to the deep waters against opponents like Barker and Sturm. But Golovkin is the deep waters with a dangerous current that relentlessly tries to tow you under. 

    For that reason, I think this will look a lot like Golovkin's TKO of Matthew Macklin. We're going to watch a tough, world-class fighter get beaten up in a manner we haven't seen before. 

    GGG by stoppage in Round 7. Expect to see him in a pay-per-view quality showdown with Andre Ward or Saul Alvarez later this year or early next year. Ward is hungry enough to want that fight, and Canelo is brave enough to make it for his fans. 

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