By Gavan Casey
In ancient times, mythical hero Hercules was said to have seen off the Gods of what was then known as the Monoikos region, while paving a legendary path from Spain to Italy. Fast forward to the present day, and a seemingly Herculean figure paving a new path from the East. He has flattened a host of modern competitors, and in turn descends upon what is now Monaco in search of a defining battle, with the aim of developing his own God-like status in boxing’s storied middleweight division.
He held a 345-5 amateur record. He won an Olympic silver medal in 2004, aged 22. He has registered 18 knockout victories on the spin. He holds the highest knockout percentage of any middleweight champion in history.
Gennady Golovkin is a freak.
Tentative comparisons to Mike Tyson are inevitable given the WBA champion’s nuclear power combined with razor-sharp shot selection, yet the man looking to stake a claim as the new ‘Baddest Man On The Planet’ is still perceived by many to be untested- largely brought upon by his ability to leave a wake of stellar challengers twitching on the canvas within minutes. Indeed, teak-tough, world-level competitors in Matthew Macklin, Daniel Geale and Marco Antonio Rubio have lasted fewer than eight collective rounds when faced with a barrage of concrete body shots and decapitating, carefully crafted counter-hooks, carrying with them the sniper-like capability of rattling their target even if slightly off course.
Golovkin finds himself in an almost paradoxical predicament of being required to go the championship distance to prove himself as a pound-for-pound great; through no fault of his own, there has been no perceived struggle to contrast with his ‘blink-and-you-miss-it’ success.
The Englishman standing in the opposite corner in Salle des Étoiles, Monte Carlo this Saturday may provide this deemed necessary acid test. St. Helens’ Martin Murray has never been down, not to mention out. The 32 year old has long been fancied by many as the cream of the British middleweight crop- his considerable size a conspicuous one-up on many of Golovkin’s previous victims, as is his hugely underrated skillset. Effective if unspectacular, the Brit is certainly deserving of his chance.
Murray’s shaved head and troubled past may well birth the commentarial stereotype of an English brawler this weekend, but the rangy stylist fundamentally outboxed both Felix Sturm and then lineal champ Sergio Martinez for large periods, and landed the more telling blows in both of his razor-thin, controversial world title failures to date. It’s not actually unfathomable that had decisions gone his way, Martin Murray himself would have been the linear middleweight champion of the world- a goal his dangerous opponent has firmly set his sights on for 2015.
With Miguel Cotto seemingly uninterested in facing the Kazakh beast, Saturday night will see Gennady Golovkin attempt to scythe down an opponent who – if not quite a live dog – certainly possesses the capabilities of pushing this championship bout into the latter stages. An early night’s work for Golovkin further asserts his surely impending dominance on the division- while arguably failing to teach us anything new.
An upset puts pay to the invincible mystique which surrounds him, while catapulting Martin Murray to world champion status, and membership of the exclusive club of the top two middleweights on the planet.
Expect the expected. Martin Murray cannot afford to carry his typically tentative offence beyond the opening rounds. Relative in-ring inactivity cost him a decision in Buenos Aires in his second title tilt; in Monte Carlo, it may cost him his face.
Gennady Golovkin’s buzz saw-like combinations tend to begin with a thumping jab that causes opponents to recoil defensively, leaving openings both around the guard and to the body- GGG’s two favourite landing spots for his thunderous hooks. ‘GGG’ may not find himself countering his rock-solid opponent too often, but ultimately he possesses more than enough skill to create his own openings before long- even if the St. Helen’s man maintains a typically tight defence. Unlike Martinez in the twilight of his career, the Kazakh simply lands too hard for an opponent to stand off and soak up punishment while cautiously peaking over the guard for his own openings.
32 year old Golovkin, vociferously conscious that he rather remarkably still needs rounds, may open proceedings patiently. He will be aware that, given Murray’s relative lack of power (12 KOs in 29 wins), he will be afforded the opportunity to let loose when he sees fit. Golovkin may view this clash as a blank canvas to showcase his renowned boxing savvy.
If so, Murray will at least look competitive during the opening rounds- his solid jab perhaps making Golovkin think twice about unloading in more than twos and threes. But when Golovkin begins to return the favour in kind, the fight should progress towards a predictably thudding finish.
After a chorus of Golovkin’s uniquely reverberative hooks, Martin Murray may find himself in a heap not dissimilar to his bitter rival Matthew Macklin back in 2013.
Expect the Kazakh King to defend his crown in the Principality on Saturday night.
OFFICIAL GENNADY GOLOVKIN VS MARTIN MURRAY PREDICTION: GGG TKO6
Gavan can be contacted on Twitter: @GavanCasey or at[email protected]
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