On one of the few weekends with no UFC event there was still plenty of action in the combat sports world. Leading the way was HBO Boxing which put on an excellent two fight card that saw two exciting KO’s from Gennady Golovkin and Nicholas Walters. They were preceded by Damacio Page’s picture perfect knockout of Brian Hall at Legacy 36 to win their first flyweight title. Each knockout was a work of art from three of the best KO artists in combat sports today.
The Man No One Wants To Face
After destroying Marco Antonio Rubio in two rounds for his 18th straight TKO/KO win, Golovkin’s legend continues to grow as do the comparisons to Mike Tyson. While Golovkin’s style is very different from Tyson’s, the results are the same and that is the early round highlight reel KO’s that just keep on coming. Rubio was supposed to be a tough test with his size and durability. There was talk of how he would be able to take Golovkin into the deeper rounds. Instead it was over inside of two rounds with one of easiest recent wins for Golovkin.
A big part of why it was going to be difficult for Golovkin to knockout Rubio was his size. Rubio has fought at super-middleweight many times in his career. He augmented his natural size benefit by coming in almost two pounds over weight and outweighed Golovkin by eight pounds on fight night. None of that would matter though as Golovkin showed his power is not bound by weight classes. What he showed the world was that if you are going to stand in front of him you are going down.
The first round was classic Golovkin. What he does in the opening round is feel out his opponent but not just by feints and fakes like many fighters like to do. You know the ones where the two fighters look like two insects doing some weird mating dance. Instead, Golovkin starts with his jab. He doubles and triples up on it. Other times he will jab and hook off of it and then occasionally he brings the right hand in behind it. Most of this is done at less than full speed. It allows him to lull his opponent into a false sense of his own timing while allowing Golovkin to correctly gauge his opponents timing. Once he has that down then he looks to start unloading in the second round and beyond if necessary.
Golovkin can do this because he moves so well controlling the space and distance and has a solid chin if he does get caught. When he does get hit it is rarely cleanly as he is adept at moving just enough to slide and deflect the punches. We saw the chin at the end of the first round when Golovkin caught Rubio with a hard left hook right hook combination that landed solidly. Rubio respond with a hard right uppercut of his own that landed. Golovkin, like he did against Curtis Stevens, took it easily.
After slipping Rubio’s punches for the first thirty seconds of round two, Golovkin popped him with a stiff one-two combination that snapped Rubio’s head back and got the crowd excited. This led to Rubio trying to respond and he landed a couple of partial body shots only to have Golovkin answer with a solid thudding one to his body. Moments later a Golovkin right uppercut snapped his head back again. Rubio backed up into the ropes and Golovkin went to work.
Again it was his classic pitter-pat, pitter-pat, pitter-pat and then Boom! He is a master at varying the speed and power of his punches to set up the one big clean accurate shot. In this case it was a big left hook right on the temple that sent Rubio crashing down to the canvas. It was preceded by a touch jab that set it up beautifully for him.
It was the type of performance that will send more top fighters running from him. Right now the only top fighter who has shown any interest in fighting him is Andre Ward. Ward is considered the number two ranked pound-for-pound fighter in world and is a super-middleweight. It would make for a great fight. We will have to see if it happens. Sooner or later the other top middleweights will be forced to deal with him if he keeps putting on performances like this one.
Fight Fans I give you Nicholas Walters
There were experts who considered Walters to be the favorite going into his fight with Nonito Donaire. Of the two fighters Donaire was the much better known of the two. He has twice won Ring Magazine’s KO of the year in 2007 and 2011 and was the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Fighter of the Year in 2012. Walters came into the fight with a perfect 24-0 record with 20 TKO/KO’s himself but most of them had come in Panama. This was his second fight in the United States and only the fifth one not in Panama. After his KO of Donaire, fight fans know who he is now.
This was the best fight of the three KO’s this weekend. It was also the longest one as it went into the sixth round. In one way it was the most impressive KO as Donaire had never been knocked down in his career before this fight. Walters did it twice and the second one ended the fight, giving Walters the biggest win of his career on his biggest stage. It was a beautiful piece of work by Walters.
The opening of this fight had the insect mating dance with each fighter cautiously faking and feinting to find an opening. There were several jabs from each fighter then they started to add the other punches in. For Donaire, he went to his right hand while Walters started to hook off of the jab with his left. They settled into a rhythm of Walters leading the action with Donaire happy to counter.
In the second round Donaire landed several nice counter shots. He was more aggressive and landed several good hooks to the body and head. Walters answered back but it was Donaire landing the better shots. In the last ten seconds of the round Walters landed a hard one-two combo and then landed several good shots to the body. It looked like Walters had him in trouble when Donaire caught him with his vaunted left hook that had Walters reeling. If there had been two more seconds in the round Walters would have went down. The bell saved him and he made it back to his corner.
It looked like Donaire had seized the momentum after Walters had controlled most of the round with his jab. The reach of Walters really came into play during the third round as he used his jab to set his other punches up. Most of which had been left hooks with the right hand being more of a decoy. That changed when a jab from Walters had Donaire ducking down slightly and right into the right uppercut which dropped him for the first time in his career.
The fourth and fifth rounds would be filled with action. Walters leading the action with his jab, combos and movement. Donaire valiantly tried to regain control of the fight by standing in tight and trying to negate the reach of Walters. The problem for Donaire was that Walters was also the better fighter on the inside.
When the fight went to sixth round Walters was dictating the fight controlling the exchanges whether at distance or in tight. Donaire’s right eye was swollen and impeding his vision. His lefthand had wobbled Walters earlier but since then had not been able to do much damage. The round started with Walters stalking Donaire around the ring behind his jab.
Whichever way Donaire tried to move there was Walters seemingly waiting for him every time. The round unfolded much like the previous two. In the last ten seconds they once again engaged in a furious exchange with Walters ending it with a chopping right hand after slipping a left hook by Donaire.
It was a beautiful punch that showed off his nickname as Donaire fell like Walters had used an axe on him. The punch that Donaire threw left him a little off-balance and vulnerable to Walters’ counter shot. The punch had perfect timing and sent Donaire straight down. The referee wasting no time in stopping the fight.
Walters not only became the first man to knock Donaire down but also out. It was the type of performance that creates an instant star and that must see buzz for his next fight. He is in a talent rich division and just needs a few more performances like this one to become one of boxing next big stars.
Damacio Page Turns Up
Coming into the co-main event at Legacy FC 36 Page needed a win over Brian Hall to take the flyweight title and likely earn another shot at the UFC. Hall was a dangerous opponent who took this fight on three weeks notice. We saw just how dangerous Hall was in the early moments of the fight when he rocked Page twice with right hands and once with a knee.
In boxing they would have been ruled as two knockdowns but in MMA Page was able to use his wrestling to recover. Hall did a good job of fighting off the takedowns and staying on his feet but Page was able to gather his wits each time. After grappling in a clinch for close to 45 seconds they separated. After a hard leg kick from Page and a nice body shot answer from Hall they each avoided big shots from the other. This left them in the center of the cage slightly apart.
From there Page showed the value of striking while moving forward and the danger of moving straight back. Page is able to do this because he stays balanced while moving forward and Hall moved straight backwards bringing his head right into range.
It started with a double jab that is designed to distract Hall and get his attention looking down the middle. As Hall retreats he goes straight back and tried to lean his head out-of-the-way of the right hand. Instead everything he did brought his head right to the perfect spot for Page’s right hand to crash into it.
Page stepped forward with his left foot as he threw the jabs. He then planted his left foot and pivoted on it slightly as he brings the right hand and foot forward into the strike driving the power of the perfectly placed punch. Hall went down scarily stiff but was alright after the fight. It was as beautifully violent of knockout as you will see. The textbook double jab set Hall up and the clean overhand right ended it. Look for Page’s next KO to come in the UFC very soon.