Boxing Matchmakers Column: GGG vs Barker and Kovalev vs Stevenson?
New DBB writer Jeremy O’Connell writes his first boxing matchmakers column looking at potential fights between GGG vs Barker and Kovalev vs Stevenson
Darren Barker’s emotional and thrilling title win over Daniel Geale will hopefully open the door to many mouth-watering clashes in an increasingly fascinating middleweight division, none more significant than a fight with Gennady Golovkin to crown a unified titlist and heir apparent to fading kingpin Sergio Martinez. But will politics dictate a different route?
Golovkin is next slated to fight Curtis Stevens, a guy high on punching power, but low on accomplishment, in November, and will likely have a Monte Carlo fight in December (possibly against talented recent titlist Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam) to round off his stellar year.
Perhaps the boxing matchmakers that be will dictate Barker’s immediate future which could include a voluntary against a fellow domestic middleweight (perhaps Andy Lee), or else a mandatory defence against either Felix Sturm or Sam Soliman (the IBF are still sorting out their situation, in the wake of Soliman’s positive drug test after beating Sturm).
But with Chavez Jr. highly unlikely to make 160 again, and Peter Quillin tied up with Golden Boy and Showtime, Golovkin vs. Barker would match the consensus top two ranked middleweight contenders in the world.
Golovkin has had a hard time getting opponents in the ring, due to his devastating knockouts of increasingly accomplished opposition. Would Barker step up to the plate sometime in 2014? One thing that makes me doubt it is the fact that he has options because of a fan base and strong promotional backing with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom. He does not need HBO and American TV money to guarantee big purses, and, as already mentioned, he could pick and choose between Lee, Martin Murray and Matthew Macklin to make highly lucrative and significant fights in the UK. One of the domestic foursome winning a world title may have always been what it would take to get them to finally face off.
Either way, the American route or the domestic one, it looks like Barker’s win has paved to way to a thrilling future.
2013 has been the year of the punchers and the latest to burst onto the elite level is Sergey Kovalev, with his demolition job over the previously unbeaten Nathan Cleverly in his Welsh back yard. As the HBO broadcasters said, a fight between Kovalev and lineal champion Adonis Stevenson looms as the best match up between two pure punchers in the sport, as well as the most significant fight that can be made at light heavyweight. Certainly, a Bernard Hopkins fight with either man looks improbable right now given HBO’s split with Golden Boy.
Stevenson is a draw in Canada, and makes his first defence next month against Tavoris Cloud. He is then scheduled to make a mandatory defence against Tony Bellew, although rumours in the Canadian media have linked him to a lucrative Lucian Bute fight, which could be an attractive fight for the boxing matchmakers to put together. Gary Shaw also said at the weekend that he would look to push Chad Dawson’s rematch clause for a return fight with Stevenson, seemingly a waste of time given the obliteration that was all 75 seconds of their first fight.
Kovalev looks like the best at 175, and with HBO so heavily invested in the division, they will surely look to make the big fight in 2014. However, it is questionable if Stevenson would risk his championship against such a dangerous challenger, especially since his only defeat was by knockout to journeyman Darnell Boone. What would happen if Kovalev detonated on his chin? Equally, Stevenson is also one of the pound for pound hardest punchers and looks capable himself of stopping anyone with a single punch.
All I know is that I’d love to see it happen.
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