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HOW HE DID IT: Golovkin Might Have Best Offense in the Game

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A sensational offensive fighter with sound defense, Gennady Golovkin may be the best middleweight in the world. And what’s more, he may be even better than we think. It’s getting to the point now with Golovkin —as was once the case with a young Mike Tyson— where the question is not “did he win?”, but more “in what round did he win?” After taking fewer than three rounds to dismantle Matthew Macklin on Saturday night, “GGG” not only proved what a devastating puncher he is (he has now stopped 24 of his 27 opponents), but that he is also an astute ring mechanic who has the ability to force his opponents into making errors through intelligent pressure and craft.

In today’s analysis, we’re going to be taking a brief look at some of Golovkin’s stellar attributes which sometimes go unnoticed due to his chilling punching power.

Counter jab

Because Golovkin is primarily a pressure fighter who stalks his opponents, it is of great importance to him that he has a strong jab at his disposal. By a strong jab, I don’t necessarily mean a forceful jab that can snap the opponent’s head back every time he throws it (although that is quite often the case) but rather an intelligent jab that will maximize his offensive opportunities while minimizing his opponent’s. As he looks to enter, what “GGG” will often do with great effect is cover his opponent’s lead hand as he throws his jab. In other words, at the same time “GGG” is establishing his own jab, he is taking away his opponent’s.

Coming in behind his jab, Golovkin’s extended right arm met Macklin’s jab head on.

Gennady-Golovkin-vs-Matthew-Macklin---02 07 2013a

“GGG” jabs and simultaneously stops Macklin’s jab.

This is very similar to something Joe Louis regularly did to his opponents. As he jabbed, Louis would do so with an open right glove in the hope of catching or smothering his opponent’s jab.

Gennady-Golovkin-vs-Matthew-Macklin---02 07 2013b

Louis lands a jab while keeping his opponent’s lead hand in check.

Cutting off the ring

If a fighter in pursuit finds himself faced with an opponent who circles the perimeter of the ring in an attempt to maintain distance and keep the pursuer from getting “set” to hit, he must find a way of funneling his movement. By intercepting the opponent’s movement with one’s own movement, one can effectively “cut off the ring”.

As Macklin circled the ring and operated mainly on his back foot, GGG expertly cut the ring off and closed the doors on his escape routes. In fact, Golovkin’s ring-cutting footwork was so good that there were moments during the fight where I was reminded of a prime George Foreman.

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Golovkin cuts the ring off on Macklin.

Once the ring has been cut off, the fighter in pursuit should manipulate the opponent’s movement with punches. The easiest way for a fighter to accomplish this is through right hands or left hooks depending on whichever way the opponent is moving —if the opponent is circling towards the pursuer’s right, they should be met with right hands. If the opponent is circling towards the pursuer’s left, they should be met with left hooks.

Every time Macklin would circle to either his left or right, Golovkin would be there to greet him with a straight right hand or a left hook and steer him back the other way.

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Golovkin meets Macklin with a left hook as Macklin begins moving to his right.

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Macklin moves to his left and onto a straight right hand from Golovkin.

Needless to say, Buddy McGirt’s advice from the corner for Macklin to keep moving to his right (Golovkin’s left) and away from Golovkin’s right hand wasn’t quite as straight forward as it seemed; the left hook threat of Golovkin was just as sinister.

GGG is certainly not the quickest of fighters, but he more than makes up for any shortcomings in the speed department with a superb appreciation of ring placement —a result of his exquisite ring-cutting skills and timing. GGG could very well be the best in the sport right now at maneuvering his opponents into areas of the ring where they are at their most vulnerable and where he is at his most dangerous. Unless your name is Floyd Mayweather, being pinned up against the ropes or in a corner is not a very good place to be inside the ring. If a fighter has his back up against the ropes, his feet will often be parallel with his shoulders, resulting in his movement becoming restricted. Consequently, the opponent (whose movement is completely unhindered) will be presented with a very wide and stationary target.

Evidently, because “GGG” was able to consistently maneuver Macklin into corners or up against the ropes, yet another area of Golovkin’s varied offense was unveiled.

Combination punching

Where speed merchants like Amir Khan and Yuriorkis Gamoba will often unleash three and four punch salvos all aimed at a single target, a thoughtful puncher like Golovkin —whose hand speed is anything but electrifying— enjoys so much more success with his combinations than they do because he’s not trying to simply overwhelm his opponents with activity and keep them at bay, but rather he’s trying to exploit openings that exist in an opponent’s guard so he can take them out.

Because he throws his punches with the intention of opening up a target for another one, “GGG” is the embodiment of what good combination punching is all about:

Gennady-Golovkin-vs-Matthew-Macklin---02 07 2013f

A left hook followed by a straight right hand occupies Macklin’s guard and “fixes” him in position for left hook to the body.

The knockout was a perfect representation of how one should base their combinations around an opponent’s reactions instead of simply flurrying in the hope that a punch may sneak through at some point. By occupying Macklin’s guard first with two uppercuts, “GGG” froze him long enough to land a left hook to an unprotected area.

Gennady-Golovkin-vs-Matthew-Macklin---02 07 2013g

Golovkin lands both a left and right uppercut before finishing Macklin off with a left hook to the body.

A second look at the knockout from an alternative angle shows just how much thought went into the fight-ending combination. Instead of remaining directly in front of Macklin as he was letting his hands go, GGG side-stepped (angling off) to his left slightly as he was throwing his right uppercut. In doing so, he took himself to a more advantageous position to deliver the left hook from.

Gennady-Golovkin-vs-Matthew-Macklin---02 07 2013h

The right uppercut places Golovkin at a more favorable angle to land his left hook.

All in all, it was a remarkable display by Golovkin. “GGG” not only showed that he has the ability to end a fight with a single punch, but that he can remain defensively responsible while he is searching for it. Not once did we see “GGG” off-balance or reckless any time he pressed the attack. Instead, “GGG” remained calm and calculated as he systematically broke his man down —a cerebral assassin if ever there was one.

Although I don’t think he harnesses the same kind of one-punch, sleep-inducing power that Wladimir Klitschko and Lucas Matthysse do, “GGG” is probably a more precise puncher than they are and is definitely more imaginative when it comes to creating and taking advantage of openings. Going one step further, “GGG” may be the finest offensive fighter in the sport right now; for my money, he certainly belongs in the argument with the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and Manny Pacquiao.

Not too long ago, the always on point Frank Lotierzo wrote an interesting piece http://www.tss.ib.tv/news/articles-frontpage/16684-nobody-fights-as-the-effective-attacker-today in which he questioned why there were so few elite fighters around today who were capable of fighting as the effective attacker. Pointing the finger at gifted technicians like Floyd Mayweather, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Bernard Hopkins, whose main concern lies with nullifying instead of decapitating, it’s hard to disagree with Frank.

Maybe Gennady Golovkin—methodical in his approach and devastatingly surgical in his dissections— is the man that Mr. Lotierzo, and all of us for that matter, has been waiting for.

 

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Erickson Lubin Wins, But Misplaced His Hammer

David A. Avila

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Erickson Lubin misplaced the hammer but found a way to victory over Terrell Gausha by unanimous decision in a slow-developing WBC super welterweight eliminator on Saturday.

Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs), a southpaw slugger, was unable to lower the boom on Gausha (21-2-1, 10 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. But he did enough in a tactical battle that only activated into a real fight in the later rounds.

Back and forth the two super welterweights mostly feinted and fired blows at each other’s guard. Few managed to pierce for scoring blows and those that landed were mostly to the body.

“It was a chess match. I respected what he had, he was trying to counter what I had. My trainer was telling me to be cautious and not get hit with anything stupid,” said Lubin, whose trainer is the respected Kevin Cunningham.

Gausha, 33, was the more accurate puncher but fired less than Lubin. Though he seemingly scored more often with counter rights, the scarcity of his blows allowed Lubin to control the pace of the fight.

It wasn’t until the mid-rounds that Gausha stepped into a slightly quicker pace. In the 10th, a short right connected and wobbled Lubin who covered up.

“I knew I had hurt him, but he was able to recover,” said Gausha, 24, who tried to finish off the hurt fighter but was unable to land another scoring blow.

“I’m in shape and I was able to recuperate,” Lubin revealed.

It was still unclear who was winning the fight. In the 12th and final round Lubin stepped up the pace and connected with a crisp right hook that clearly snapped the head of Gausha. But he fought his way out of the dangerous corner.

After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Lubin 115-113, 116-112, 118-110.

“Gausha is a tough competitor, he’s at the top for a reason,” said Lubin. “I feel I beat one of the top 154s and I’m going to keep doing that.”

Gausha was classy in defeat.

“I take my hat off to Erickson Lubin. He was the better man tonight,” said Gausha.

Lubin now awaits the winner between Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario who fight each other next week for the WBC, WBA and IBF super welterweight titles. Showtime will provide the title match on pay-per-view.

Featherweights

Former IBO featherweight titlist Tug Nyambayar (12-1, 9 KOs) floored Cobia Breedy (15-1) twice in the first two rounds but struggled the rest of the way to win by split decision. One judge scored it 115-113 for Breedy and two others for Mongolia’s Nyambayar 114-112 and 114-113.

Nyambayar knocked down Breedy with a counter right cross in the first round and then floored him with four rights and a left hook in the second. After that, Breedy was the busier fighter and no one was able to take control.

“Boxing is boxing. It was a tough fight,” said Nyambayar.

Welterweights

In a solid match Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) was able to find out exactly where he stands against real competition and stopped the unstoppable Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1, 21 KOs) in the sixth round by technical knockout in their welterweight showdown.

More than just a knockout win, Ennis discovered that he can indeed take a punch from an elite level puncher.

Nobody questioned whether Ennis had boxing skills or athleticism and power, but nobody knew if he could take a punch. They discovered it as Abreu was able to connect in the fourth and fifth rounds. The Dominican fighter pulled out his tricks and connected several times with sneaky rights and lefts. Ennis remained standing.

Abreu was looking to trade bombs with Ennis in the fifth and sixth round and paid the price in getting delivered to the canvas with a pretty right counter uppercut. He survived. But in the sixth a slew of punches along the ropes sent him down again. He beat the count again but during a fierce exchange he was floored a final time at 1:06 of the sixth round. It was the first time Abreu had ever been stopped.

“I feel I put on a wonderful show and got the knockout,” said Ennis. “I feel I showed the division I am here.”

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Fast Results from the MGM Bubble: Pedraza Outclasses Molina Plus Undercard

Arne K. Lang

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The featured bout on tonight’s card at the MGM Bubble was a match between 2008 Olympians. It was a competitive match on paper, but Jose Pedraza turned in one of the better performances of his career while turning away Javier Molina who just wasn’t in Pedraza’s league tonight. The fight went the full 10 with the judges voting for the Boricua by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 twice. A former two-division belt-holder who looked very comfortable in his second start at 140, Pedraza boosted his record to 28-3. Molina, who had won five straight coming in, falls to 22-3.

Pedraza was manhandled by Gervonta Davis in 2017, outclassed by Vasyl Lomachenko in 2018, and upset by Jose Zepeda last year, but showed tonight that he still has plenty of mileage left on his odometer. Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez each own two pieces of the 140-pound title, but Pedraza seems to have found a new gear at age 31 and is nipping at their heels. However, Pedraza also hankers to renew acquaintances with Zepeda and that will likely come first.

In the 10-round heavyweight co-feature, Efe Ajagba’s higher workrate carried him to a 10-round unanimous decision over Jonathan Rice. The scores were 98-92 and 99-91 twice.

Ajagba, the Houston-based Nigerian making his first start under the Top Rank banner, advanced his record to 14-0 (11) but was underwhelming. Rice, the terror of Tijuana taxi drivers, fell to 13-6-1 and solidified his reputation as a useful gatekeeper.

Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Cuba who now resides in the Miami area, improved to 5-1 with a unanimous 8-round decision over Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo (13-3-2). Both appeared on the inaugural MGM Bubble card with Caraballo, fighting for the first time in the U.S., suffering a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of Shakur Stevenson. Tonight’s uneventful fight saw Ramirez on cruise control as he won by scores of 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

San Bernardino junior middleweight Leo Ruiz improved to 8-0 with a 6-round unanimous decision over Cancun’s Rodrigo Solis (4-5-1). Both fighters had a point deducted in round five; Ruiz, 21, for low blows and Solis for spitting out his mouthpiece. The scores were 58-54 and 59-53 twice.

In a fight that wasn’t on the original schedule, Houston super middleweight Christian Montano improved to 10-0 (7) with a 6-round unanimous decision over St. Louis’ Ryan Adams (7-4-1). A three-time national amateur champion, Montano, who is of Columbian descent, had knocked out seven of his previous opponents in the opening round. He looked poorly conditioned tonight but yet won every round on two of the scorecards.

Lightweight Bryan Lua, who hails from the town of Madera in central California’s agricultural belt, returned to the ring after a 27-month absence and scored a one-punch knockout over Chile’s Luis Norambuena. A left hook did the damage, bringing the bout to a sudden conclusion at the 2:27 mark of round two. Lua, (6-0, 3 KOs) won two of three over Ryan Garcia as an amateur. It was a quick turnaround for Norambuena (4-7-1) who lost a 4-round decision in this ring last week.

The first two bouts on the card showcased the newest members of Top Rank’s “Kiddie Corps.” Kasir Goldston and Jahi Tucker, 17-year-old welterweights, launched their pro careers on a winning note.

Goldston, a southpaw from Albany, NY, opened the show with a 4-round unanimous decision over Wisconsin’s Isaiah Varnell (3-3). The scores were 40-36 and 39-37 twice.

Tucker, who trains in the same Long Island town that spawned Buddy McGirt, put away Alabama’s Deandre Anderson (1-2) in the opening round. Anderson came out winging, but the precocious Tucker picked him apart. Referee Robert Hoyle stepped in and stopping the mismatch at the 2:56 mark. As an amateur, Tucker was ranked #1 at 138 pounds while still a sophomore in high school.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 105: Angry Welterweights and More

David A. Avila

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Those welterweights don’t play.

One welterweight just got out of jail and wants to take out his angry frustrations in the boxing ring.

“One of us is getting knocked out. If it gets to where I’m behind on points, I’m just going to come forward and try to take him out, even if I end up getting knocked out,” said Juan Carlos Abreu. ““If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want.”

Standing in front of Abreu (23-5-1) will be one of the top welterweights in America, Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs). This is could be Ennis’ first true test against an experienced foe on Saturday Sept. 19, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Showtime will televise the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Ennis, 23, has been breezing easily since first jumping in the prize ring in April 2016. So far, the competition has been unable to cope with the athleticism he possesses. Will Abreu be the first to pose a problem?

“Whatever he brings, we are going to be ready. I’m going to go out there, do my thing, be smart, have my fun, and get that stoppage at the end of the night,” said Ennis, whose last opponent Bakhtiyar Eyubov was eliminated in four rounds in January. “You can’t just go in there and go for the knockout. That’s how you get tired and lose your cool or even get hit with punches that you shouldn’t be getting hit with.”

Abreu hopes he loses his cool.

“If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want. I really want one of us to get knocked out,” says Abreu of the Dominican Republic who was purportedly jailed for street fighting.

This welterweight matchup is the precursor to the WBC super welterweight eliminator between Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs).

Gausha and Lubin both have lost once in their pro careers and need a win to get another crack at a world title.

Gausha lost a decision to Erislandy Lara three years ago. Lubin was stopped in one round by Jermell Charlo three years ago. Both realize the nature of the beast.

“I think Gausha has some problems with southpaws, but I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on my game plan and coming out victorious Saturday night,” said Lubin, 24, a southpaw called “the Hammer” for a reason.

Gausha is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but trains in Southern California and has fought four elite southpaws in his career. He believes one more is not a problem.

“This will be my fourth southpaw in a row. So, I’m more comfortable and familiar this time around,” said Gausha, 33, a former US Olympian who trains with Manny Robles Jr. “The guys before me, they all fought each other. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran. They all fought each other. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And you can see that the fights I take, even after a long layoff, they are tough fights.”

Top Rank

Also, on Saturday Sept. 19, heavyweights and super lightweights lead a Top Rank card featuring some interesting bouts that will be shown on ESPN+.

Newly acquired Efe Ajagba (13-0,11 KOs) meets Jonnie Rice (13-5-1) in a 10-round heavyweight clash. It’s Nigeria’s Ajagba’s second fight this year. Though still a little raw he shows immense potential and great natural strength.

Rice fights out of Bones Adams’ Gym in Las Vegas and has some power. He built up his record on heavyweights in Tijuana boxing rings but has some pop. He’s a sizeable heavyweight and good measuring stick for Ajagba.

The main event is a doozy.

Puerto Rico’s Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) meets Southern California’s Javier Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight bout at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas.

This should be good.

Pedraza, 31, is a former WBO lightweight world titlist who lost in his first defense to Vasyl Lomachenko. Nothing bad about that. He defeated Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran for the belt and has shown a penchant for showing up big when you least expect it.

Molina, 30, is a 2008 US Olympian and a member of the fighting Molina family. His brother Oscar was a member of Mexico’s 2012 Olympic team. His other brother Carlos fought for the world title against Amir Khan. Though Javier Molina has never shown great power, he can truly fight.  His last win came against Amir Imam this past February.

Pending Lightweight Clash

Speaking of the lightweight division, is anyone else as excited as me about the looming showdown between the remarkable Vasyl Lomachenko and impressive Teofimo Lopez coming in less than a month?

Lomachenko, 32, the Ukrainian stylist known as “Hi Tech,” has that incredible footwork and ability to control distance. He’s a master of frustrating opponents and imposing his style of darting in and out of danger. But as good as he is, he can’t sell tickets. Only hardcore fans appreciate his peerless boxing skills.

Lopez, 23, hails from Brooklyn and has that ex-factor you can’t teach. He’s pizzazz and panache with a punch. That combination of flair and power excites fans and seemingly makes him a natural gate attraction. But in spite of his electric abilities, he’s facing a master boxer. Is he ready?

Top Rank is known for having a team of matchmakers headed by boxing wizard Bruce Trampler. It makes me wonder why they are pitting these two against each other?

The probable answer: neither sells out an arena alone. May the best man win.

A friend of mine from East L.A., who formerly boxed and comes from a boxing family, shared his knowledge and opinion on the matchup. He has an interesting take.

“His footwork is incredible,” said George Rodriguez about Lomachenko. “Don’t get me wrong, Teofimo is an incredible talent, but Lomachenko has that footwork.”

Any way you look at it, the winner of this clash clearly bumps up his own image.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) versus Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on October 17. Mark down that date. It will be televised on ESPN.

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