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Golovkin's Physicality Sets Him Apart From The Other Middleweight Contenders

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It's something that I've said repeatedly for years and some have even been insulted by it… but I couldn't care less.

My belief is this: I don't care if it's boxing, grappling, kick boxing or any style martial art; one-on-one combat fighting is the hardest sport in the world to master and become a world champion!

Team sports aren't close and individual sports like golf and tennis, as tough as they are, don't measure up in degree of difficulty compared to fighting. No two people are built alike and all bring different skill sets and strengths; that, and they don't use clubs or rackets in order to execute during competition, they only have their physical body and its limitations.

In addition to different body builds and styles, physicality is monumental in all combat sports. This we saw in abundance during this past weekend’s middleweight unification bout between Gennady Golovkin 34-0 (31) and former IBF title holder David Lemieux 34-3 (31). What transpired during the bout was total domination by Golovkin, who dropped Lemieux in the fifth round with a body shot and worked him over to the head and body during the subsequent rounds leading the referee to stop the bout in the eighth round.

The talk in most boxing circles this week is centered on what a great boxer Golovkin is and how he is better defensively than first thought. Yes, those suggestions are plausible but it all starts with his punching power, strength and durability. Some fighters are too strong to box and at some point, in order to have a chance to beat them, you have to actually fight them straight up. And also live to tell about it.

It was said during the broadcast that it appeared as if David Lemieux had no fight plan or strategy, to which I say is impossible. Lemieux had a strategy and plan, the problem turned out to be once he felt Golovkin's presence in front of him, he found that GGG was too strong for him to make him do anything that he needed him to do. This made Lemieux tentative and somewhat glove-shy as he was trying to find and answer to thwart Golovkin's heavy left jab and follow up hooks, uppercuts and crosses. Further complicating the problem was due to his trepidation in getting off, he was reaching with his jab and that made it easier for Golovkin to walk him down with his jab. And the fact that Lemieux isn't used to and doesn't really know how to fight in retreat, it compromised his defense and he became more open and reachable for GGG.

It also was obvious that in spite of nailing Golovkin with a few big hooks and right hands, Lemieux couldn't get his attention enough to slow him down a bit other than momentarily….and fighters like Gennady feed off of that and grow stronger.

Today many are focusing on Golovkin's jab and defense. Yes, his jab is very heavy and fairly accurate. However, I believe Lemieux's porous defense and being forced to fight while moving back or coming in open aided in why GGG looked so sharp. David, once he felt the bout was slipping away, became sloppy in his aggression and really wide open, something Gennady took full advantage of. And pertaining to Golovkin's defense, I think he had the perfect foe in front of him who winged a lot of punches and almost telegraphed them.

At the end of the day both guys were used to their physicality and strength carrying the night for them. Only in this instance the fighter with the bigger guns also owned the better delivery system and radar. But don't lose sight of the fact that Golovkin's overwhelming physicality dictated everything that happened in the ring which drove the result. Golovkin's beautiful boxing came out because he was facing an opponent who was driven by nothing else but his power and determination, but who was ultimately forced to try and box. Once GGG's power and presence trumped Lemieux's, David had nothing else to fall back on and we saw the result when he was met by a more powerful opponent who was a better technician.

The next time Golovkin fights, it'll probably be against Saul Alvarez or Miguel Cotto. When the fight is finalized ask yourself this…..can either Alvarez or Cotto hold Gennady off by out-boxing him? Furthermore, can they even out-box him for pieces of selected rounds let alone 12 consecutive ones? If your answer to that is no, what's left for them to do? The obvious answer is, if they lack the strength and physicality to out-box him, you better believe that don't have nearly enough strength or physicality to step up and out-fight him. And that's why they won't win.

To beat Golovkin, it'll take an opponent who is sharp and physically tough, strong and durable, perhaps prime versions of Marvin Hagler, Bernard Hopkins or James Toney. Those would be three interesting fights to see because of Golovkin's abundance of strength. Unfortunately, there are no Haglers, Hopkins or Toneys fighting at 160 around, so the dynamo named Golovkin will most likely be feasting on the elite middleweights in the world for the near future.

Oh, Golovkin does have one vulnerability…and that would be apparent if someone could drain him down to 154 and diminish the overwhelming physicality out of his body that he enjoys at middleweight.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

Photo : Will Hart

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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