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CAUTION: Golovkin Remains A Mystery Still

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Saturday night Gennady Golovkin proved what we already knew. What he did not prove is whether he is the best middleweight in the world.

The undefeated WBA-IBO champion’s punching power was never in question. When you have the highest knockout percentage of any active world champion as well as the highest in middleweight championship history it doesn’t matter whether you’ve knocked out the top names in the division, which he has not.

Power is power and if you’ve got the kind Golovkin has it’s obvious, as it was when he dropped challenger Matthew Macklin with a savage left to the liver that crumpled him to the floor in a heap at 1:22 of the third round, unable to get up for several minutes after he was counted out by referee Eddie Cotton.

But the truth is the man Golovkin beat was already beaten before he entered the ring. For more than a week Macklin kept talking about how he hadn’t really wanted the fight yet, insisting he needed one more tune-up before facing Golovkin, even though this was Macklin’s third shot at the middleweight title.

That is a man who doesn’t want to be where he ended up, which was trapped inside the ropes with Golovkin patiently boring in on him like termites in the woodwork.

After talking a good game until the week before the fight, Macklin (29-5, 20 KO) entered the ring at the MGM Grand Theatre filled with self-doubt. His movements from the beginning were skitterish, his feet seldom set to punch, his eyes darting here and there, his worry obvious.

That, of course, is the curse of the big puncher. It has benefited fighters for decades. It is a spell of fear that comes over an opponent that ends the fight before it begins, rendering that opponent incapable of the kind of calm patience necessary to do his job.

Most observers miss this nuance, seeing only the explosion and assuming the sole cause is the unbeatable devastation of the knockout artist. But fighters, especially champions, know differently.

The best of them see deeper things. They see the eyes of the opponent and know what it means. They see the weaknesses of the champion and know how to expose and exploit them.

That is why Gennady Golovkin’s performance Saturday night, impressive as it was, did not satisfy all the skeptics in the crowd. It made clear to them, not that they had any doubt, that he has dynamite in both hands but it did not quite convince them yet that he will detonate it no matter who the competition is.

“People talk about punching power,” said Andre Ward, the undisputed super middleweight champion and an analyst working at ringside Saturday night for HBO.

“He is always in position to punch. It’s from that Soviet (amateur system, where he was allegedly 350-5 before turning pro). He has a strong base, strong foundation. He puts a lot of pressure on people, and it starts with his feet. He gets into position, then is able to unload the big shot.’’

And then came the “but.’’

“Until somebody is able to dominate (Sergio) Martinez, he’s in that top spot (in the middleweight division),’’ Ward said after the fight. “He’s struggled his last couple of fights but he holds onto that top spot.

“I don’t know what’s going on with negotiations behind the scenes with Golovkin. They say that nobody wants to fight him. He’s doing this (knocking out guys), but not the top competition so I’ll keep Martinez in the top spot.

“I’d like to see Golovkin against a young fighter like Kid Chocolate (Peter Quillin). If he can do that against a fighter like that you can say he’s a top spot (guy).’’

Ward made clear without saying it that he has no fear and no doubt what would happen if all the talk of Golovkin moving up to 168 in pursuit of him came to fruition. In his mind it would be Golovkin’s first true test at the highest level of the sport and he would not pass it.

For all his toughness, Macklin lost a disputed decision he probably deserved over Felix Sturm, was stopped by Martinez after 11 rounds in which Macklin dropped Martinez early but ended up taking a beating and now was non-competitive against Golovkin. In other words, and there’s no disrespect meant by this but he is not a top level talent.

Even Macklin’s trainer, former world champion Buddy McGirt, did not seem as impressed as you might have expected, in part because he knew before the fight what became obvious as Macklin walked into the ring with the look of someone staring at a hangman’s noose with his name on it.

“He has the power, you can‘t take that away from him,’’ McGirt said after the fight, “but I’d still like to see him in a dogfight against a boxer who can punch. He’s in an era where there are no great middleweights. That’s not his fault but it takes a little shine off him. I still think he hasn’t been tested.

“The best fighters are patient fighters. They stay calm under pressure. Matthew got caught with a shot because he felt Golovkin was getting the momentum and he had to do something. He got anxious.’’

Not without good reason. After quickly stopping Macklin, Golovkin is now on a streak of 14 straight KOs and takes the approach that one of the inevitable things in life is that he will render his opponent unconscious sooner rather than the later, an opinion not surprisingly also held by his trainer, the very able Abel Sanchez.

“He’s an animal in the ring when he’s right,’’ Sanchez said. “He’s the best fighter I ever trained. From 154 pounds to 168 pounds no one can stand up to his power.’’

Such a person, of course, has never existed. No one could stand up to Jack Dempsey until Gene Tunney did…twice. No one could stand up to Mike Tyson until Buster Douglas did. No one could stand up to Thomas Hearns or Sonny Liston or The Great John L. or every big puncher there ever was…until somebody did. The only one who can say no one did is Rocky Marciano because, well, no one did, although truth be told he fought in an era not unlike the fallow one Golovkin is in now.

Whether Golovkin’s somebody is presently in the middleweight division remains to be seen but for all his glorification over the weekend, he remains a mystery, as even he seemed to inadvertently hint at after the fight.

“I expected a tougher fight,’’ Golovkin (27-0, 24 KO) admitted. “I gave him a good opportunity early in the fight to see what he had. When he didn’t take it I knew it would be an easy fight.

“The left hand (to the body) is something we worked on in the gym. When I saw he was open for it, I drilled him with it. I knew he wasn’t going to get up.’’

All true. Equally true was that Macklin was halfway to the floor before he left his dressing room. That is not to hint he was a coward because he was not. He was just an opponent who didn’t believe he could win and when that is the case you seldom do and against a guy like Golovkin you never do.

But the biggest names in the division, guys like Martinez, Quillin and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., as well as Ward at 168, will not leave their dressing room with such a deficit of mind.

They will carry with them the serenity of the great fighter, the kind Golovkin (27-0, 24 KO) clearly possessed against Macklin and all his other opponents. It is the serenity of faith in yourself and your gifts but also faith in your will as well as your skill.

It is a faith Golovkin has but a faith that has not yet been tested. Only then will we learn if he is to join names like Hagler, Monzon, Hopkins, Greb, Ketchel, Robinson and the few other truly great middleweight champions.

For now he is a 31-year-old fighter with a big punch that is serving him well and rightly exciting boxing fans and the sport. He is on his way to bigger challenges.

If he passes them Gennady Golovkin will be what people say he is but words alone will not make it so. It’s a funny thing about greatness in boxing. It’s something you have to prove against people who already have established their own.

Those kind of fighters, and there are not many of them these days, are different from the Macklins and the Gabriel Rosados and Nobuhiro Ishidas of the world. They have what you have and it’s more than a punch.

Until Gennady Golovkin gets the opportunity to test himself in that hot cauldron we wait to see if he is what he says he is or if he’s just another guy who could punch holes in guys like Matthew Macklin even before he hit them.

 

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Sept. 26 Horn of Plenty and Other Notes

Arne K. Lang

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Considering the constraints, the month of September has been a pretty good month for professional boxing. And the month will close with a flourish. Eight world title-holders will be in action on the 26th, the last Saturday of the month.

Five of the belt-holders will appear on the SHOWTIME PPV doubleheader featuring the Charlo twins. The most intriguing fight on that card finds Jermall Charlo risking his belt and his undefeated record against rugged Sergiy Deveryanchenko. At last glance, Jermall was a consensus 17/10 (minus-170) favorite. In baseball, a 17/10 favorite is a heavy favorite. In boxing, not so. A serious handicapper who wouldn’t think of laying 17/10 in a baseball game would have no hesitation about laying these odds in a boxing match.

When Deveryanchenko steps into the ring, 51 weeks will have elapsed since his last fight, his bruising tiff with Gennadiy Golovkin. Jermall Charlo hasn’t been on the shelf for quite that long, having last fought in December.

A more interesting match on this particular Saturday, at least in the eyes of this reporter, will unfold earlier that day in Munich when the curtain finally comes down on Season 2 of the long-drawn-out World Boxing Super Series. Two titles will be on the line when Mairis Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) meets Yuniel Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs).

Briedis’ lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk in a very competitive fight. Briedis won five rounds on two of the cards and won six rounds on the other. Dorticos’ lone defeat came on enemy turf in Sochi, Russia when he was stopped with eight seconds remaining in a doozy of a fight with Murat Gassiev.

Forget the titles; titles are a dime a dozen. These two guys are plainly the two best cruiserweights on the planet.

“The tickets are flying out the door and we expect to sell out within hours, if not days,” said co-promoter Kalle Sauerland at a pre-fight press conference.

That assertion was made way back on January 22 when the fight, originally targeted for late December of last year, was headed to Riga, Latvia, on March 21. That date didn’t work, nor did the re-scheduled date of May 16, and ultimately Riga didn’t work either.

Whatever tickets were sold, had to be refunded. There will be no fans in attendance when Briedis and Dorticos finally lock horns on Sept. 26 at a TV studio in Munich. The fight will air on DAZN in the U.S.

“Rest makes rust” was an often-heard caution when big gamblers of yesteryear dissected a boxing match. The late, great pricemaker Herb Lambeck reflexively shied away from boxers that had been inactive for a considerable period of time. For him, the Briedis-Dorticos match would likely be a head-scratcher. Both combatants have been inactive since June 15 of last year when they appeared in separate bouts on the same card in Riga, Briedis’s hometown. And they aren’t getting any younger. Briedis is 34 and Dorticos is 35.

The odds got nicked down somewhat when the site shifted from Riga with fans to Munich without, predictably so as Briedis, the first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, has an avid local following.

Briedis, the superior boxer, is a consensus 9/5 favorite. That seems a shade high as he won’t be able to feed off the crowd – there won’t be a crowd – and Dorticos, the Cuban KO Doctor, has a better chance of ending the fight with one punch. It wouldn’t be shocking if the fight followed a similar tack as the recent fight between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin.

In case you missed it, Whyte was dominating his Russian adversary when things changed in a flash in the fifth round. Out of nowhere, Povetkin, the underdog, unleashed a picture-perfect uppercut that left Whyte flat on his back, unconscious before he hit the canvas. There have been other smashing one-punch knockouts this year – Ryan Garcia’s demolition of Francisco Fonseca comes quickly to mind – and there may be a few more, but it’s hard to visualize anyone topping Povetkin in the voting for Knockout of the Year.

By the way, if he wins it, Povetkin, 41, would be the second-oldest boxer to score the Knockout of the Year. George Foreman was 45 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994. The source is The Ring magazine which has been issuing this award since 1989.

And if you happen to know the youngest fighter to score The Ring Knockout of the Year, then you’re pretty sharp. No, it’s not baby-faced Naoya Inoue, who is older (27) than he looks. The honor goes to the long-forgotten African-American/Filipino southpaw Morris East who was 19 when he knocked out defending WBA 140-pound champion Akinobu Hironaka in 1992.

In a rarity, it didn’t take long for Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte to agree on a rematch. They will meet again on Nov. 21. The venue is undecided, but Eddie Hearn is hopeful that he can pot the fight somewhere outside his backyard “fight camp” with fans in attendance. The first lines on the fight show Whyte the favorite in the vicinity of 13/5. Povetkin-Whyte II will be a nice appetizer for the Errol Spence vs. Danny Garcia match that goes off later that day.

In an unrelated development, Fury-Wilder III is purportedly going to Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders, in late December. Bob Arum anticipates a crowd of 10,000-15,000 with social distancing protocols in place.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Meekins vs. Kawoya: File It Under Bizarre

Ted Sares

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 It was August 8, 1988. The location was Resorts International in Atlantic City. The main event featured New Yorker John Wesley Meekins (18-1-2) vs another New Yorker (via Uganda and Denmark) Mohammed Kawoya (11-3).

The rangy and skilled Meekins with a stellar amateur career was a clear favorite over the lesser known Kawoya who had fought only once in the US, losing to Jorge Maysonet on cuts at the Felt Forum. Meekins was expected to move on to a world title fight after dispatching Kawoya.

Meekins enjoyed a successful career between 1984 and 1994, fighting the likes of Davey Montana, Mike Mungin, Harold Brazier, Saoul Mamby, Santos Cardona, Darrin Morris (who won his last 16 fights in a row), and Terence Alli. He would lose to a prime Meldrick Taylor (20-0-1) in 1989 with the IBF World Super Lightweight title at stake.

On June 15, 1990, Meekins beat Santos Cardona over 12 rounds to win the NABF light-welterweight championship, but would lose it to Terence Alli some seven months later. It was downhill after that and he retired in November 1994 with a record of 24-5-2 after being stopped by so-so Darryl Lattimore.

Back to Meekins vs. Kawoya

 This one did not go as expected. After being decked in round 2, Kawoya dropped Meekins in the opening seconds of round 3. An exciting fight with multiple knockdowns and furious exchanges was in progress and the fans loved it.

An aroused Meekins then went after the Ugandan with a vengeance and set up one of the most bizarre endings that few boxing fans have ever heard about, much less witnessed, as he again dropped Kawoya this time with a fast left hook. He then went for the kill. Referee Paul Venti sensed it and moved in—perhaps prematurely– as Meekins unleashed what he hoped would be a fight-ending volley of hard shots.

 As soon as Venti stepped in to stop the fight, Kawoya landed a right that dropped Meekins and had him crawling on the canvas and holding on to the ropes devoid of his senses for at least ten seconds. The punch was thrown at the exact moment that Venti ended matters and Venti didn’t realize what had occurred.

 While Kawoya thought he has scored a clean KO and celebrated wildly, the fact was that Venti had ended the fight a fraction of a second before and his decision would stand.

The fans not only enjoyed a great fight, they witnessed something truly memorable—something that had to be seen to be believed; namely, a winner struggling to get up and a loser celebrating what he thought was a knockout.

Kawoya pulled out of the rematch because of a throat infection and Saoul Mamby took his place as a late sub. The Ugandan never fought again, while Meekins never got the title shot that a more impressive effort might have gotten him.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com or on Facebook and welcomes comments.

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Price and Programming Lineup for Sept. 26 Charlo Twins PPV Doubleheader

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PRESS RELEASE — SHOWTIME Sports has announced the price and programming lineup for the first-of-its-kind pay-per-view doubleheader on Saturday, September 26, featuring two stacked fight cards each headlined by one of the world champion Charlo twins in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions. THE SHOWTIME PPV event, CHARLO DOUBLEHEADER, is available for purchase at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $74.95 and includes six compelling fights, five of which are world championship bouts.

 THE EVENT

The first card of the SHOWTIME PPV telecast will be headlined by undefeated WBC Middleweight World Champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. WBA Super Bantamweight Champion Brandon Figueroa will defend his title against Damien Vázquez in the co-featured bout, while WBO Bantamweight World Champion John Riel Casimero faces off against Duke Micah in the pay-per-view opener. Following the main event and a 30-minute intermission, the second three-fight card headlined by WBC Super Welterweight World Champion Jermell Charlo facing unified 154-pound World Champion Jeison Rosario will begin. Luis Nery will battle Aaron Alameda for the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight World Championship in the co-feature, while former unified champion Danny Román faces former champion Juan Carlos Payano in a WBC Super Bantamweight title eliminator bout to open the second three-fight card of the pay-per-view.

TELECAST TEAM

The announce team for the SHOWTIME PPV telecast is comprised of the most experienced and decorated boxing team on television. Veteran sportscaster Brian Custer is the host. Versatile combat sports voice Mauro Ranallo handles blow-by-blow action alongside Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein and four-time world champion Abner Mares. Two Hall of Famers round out the telecast team: boxing historian Steve Farhood as unofficial scorer, and world-renowned ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.

THE JOURNEY: CHARLO DOUBLEHEADER and DIGITAL PROGRAMMING LINEUP

In the leadup to the unprecedented two-event pay-per-view, SHOWTIME Sports will produce and premiere THE JOURNEY: CHARLO DOUBLEHEADER, a 30-minute show that chronicles the unique story of Jermall and Jermell, twins born one minute apart in Houston, Texas, as they rise through the ranks and put themselves in position to become global boxing stars. Voiced by SHOWTIME boxing host Brian Custer, THE JOURNEY: CHARLO DOUBLEHEADER features rarely seen footage and gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at their most pivotal career moments, motivations, and life outside of the ring.

THE JOURNEY will premiere on SHOWTIME on Sunday, September 13 at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT and will be available for free on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and all SHOWTIME On Demand platforms.

SHOWTIME Sports will also release new episodes, of the original, digital franchiseRING RESUME which examines the career progressions of boxing’s top stars, available on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel. Beginning Monday, September 21, the SHOWTIME Boxing Snapchat page will focus on high-energy fight and training camp highlights featuring the Charlos. In addition, the Snapchat page will feature the Charlos’ RING RESUMES and THE JOURNEY to expand reach to young audiences with short-form, fast-paced storytelling. Plus, Brendan Schaub and Kenny Florian will preview the keys to the fights on BELOW THE BELT BREAKDOWN, available on the BELOW THE BELT YouTube channel.

MORNING KOMBAT INTERMISSION

Combat sports aficionados Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell will host a 30-minute intermission show after the conclusion of the Charlo vs. Derevyanchenko main event and the start of the second three-fight card. The duo, hosts of the popular live combat sports talk show and podcast MORNING KOMBAT, will also host live streams of the main events press conference and official weigh-in in addition to providing in-depth coverage on MORNING KOMBAT throughout the week. The official weigh-in and main events press conference will stream live on the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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