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HBO Boxing: ‘Golovkin vs. Stevens’ Fight Rewind





Whether it be by coincidence or design, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin fighting on Halloween week was a stroke of genius. On a week when the world’s regular everyday people wake up in a cold sweat in the dark of the night after watching Paranormal Activity or The Exorcist or even Insidious, the world’s boxing middleweights surely suffered a similar fate on a Saturday night after watching the Kazakh killer smash his way through victim 28, Curtis Stevens.

Not since Mike Tyson has a power puncher struck such fear through his division in such a short space of time. It’s barely a year since Golovkin’s first fight in America, when he secured the full versions of the WBA and IBO middleweight titles. In the four fights from that night until Saturday, GGG has not gone past round seven, winning the quartet of bouts with consummate ease.

The most recent of those outings was against Matthew Macklin, a man who was robbed of a world title against Felix Sturm in a hometown German decision and gave Sergio Martinez one the toughest fights of his career. Golovkin destroyed Macklin for three rounds before he put the Irishman out of his misery (and into a world of hurt) with a rib-shattering left hook to the body which crippled the former European champion to the floor.

On Saturday Curtis Stevens was the latest victim; but not in as devastating a fashion as usual. Golovkin dominated the fight from the beginning as he jabbed and hooked his way around the ring. Stevens didn’t seem bothered by the attacks and answered with a solid straight jab of his own.

Round two was the most violent of the fight. Stevens met Golovkin in the middle of the ring, stood his ground and traded blows. Bad idea. Golovkin dropped the American with a thunderous left hook which left Stevens dazed and bewildered; staring to his corner for instructions. Somehow he recovered before the referee counted to ten and made the bell seconds later.

Stevens’ head looked to have cleared by the time the third started. Golovkin was coy with his attacks and didn’t commit to the finish; instead stalking his damaged opponent for much of the round – picking his shots as Stevens tightened up his guard to an almost unbreakable level.

The fourth was by far Stevens’ best round. He closed the distance with Golovkin and kept his guard high. The Kazakh’s only clear punch was his trademarked left to the body; a shot which Stevens countered with his right hook, catching GGG with some big shots as the round ended.

The next four frames were slow and uneventful. Stevens’ guard resembled Fort Knox as Golovkin struggled to land anything of real meaning. Golovkin spent long periods chasing his opponent around the ring as Stevens hid between the ropes and the two pillars he made out of his hands.

By round eight GGG had seen enough; the posturing was over. As Stevens grew ever more fatigued his hands dropped and Golovkin recognised it. The uppercut of Golovkin was money throughout the entirety of the round as Stevens looked without an answer. As the seconds ticked down Golovlin had Stevens in terminal trouble, landing right after left as the referee watched over the pair ever more closely before the bell rang. Immediately, Stevens’ corner threw in the proverbial towel, giving Golovkin the TKO victory.

Despite not getting the big knockout everyone expected, Golovkin was still ultra-impressive. He dominated basically the whole fight and looked technically strong and physically powerful throughout. The knockdown came and the knockout looked only a matter of time.

Peter Quillin, Darren Barker and Sergio Martinez are GGG’s fellow 160 pounds champions; a fight against one of those next would normally seem likely. But when your name is Gennady Golovkin things are a little different. Golovkin’s only stumbling block in his inevitable climb to the peak of the boxing mountain is securing legitimate opponents to fight. With fighters and (mainly) promoters alike unwilling to take a chance against the most dangerous boxer on the planet today, his biggest fights to come may have to be outside of his current division.

Appearing on Sky Sports this week, IBF Super Middleweight champion Carl Froch mentioned GGG as one of his future opponents. With Froch a big PPV draw in Britain it could be a money fight in 2014. Speaking of money fights; surely one of the biggest to make in boxing today is Golovkin against pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Junior. If that fight was to happen it would have to be at a catch-weight, on Mayweather’s terms, in Mayweather’s backyard. On the other hand, it would also be the hardest hitting and most technical opponent “Money” has faced in years, maybe ever. Whoever or wherever he fights next, as he always does, Gennady Golovkin will excite and intimidate in equal measure.

cover photo via Will Hart/K2

Fight Booth's Irish correspondent writing about all things MMA. Catch my event reviews after every UFC and Cage Warriors show. Follow me on twitter - @SeanSheehanBA