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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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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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Haney-Garcia Redux with the Focus on Harvey Dock

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Saturday’s skirmish between Ryan Garcia and WBC super lightweight champion Devin Haney was a messy affair, and yet a hugely entertaining fight fused with great drama. In the aftermath, Garcia and Haney were celebrated – the former for fooling all the experts and the latter for his gallant performance in a losing effort – but there were only brickbats for the third man in the ring, referee Harvey Dock.

Devin Haney was plainly ahead heading into the seventh frame when there was a sudden turnabout when Garcia put him on the canvas with his vaunted left hook. Moments later, Dock deducted a point from Garcia for a late punch coming out of a break. The deduction forced a temporary cease-fire that gave Haney a few precious seconds to regain his faculties. Before the round was over, Haney was on the deck twice more but these were ruled slips.

The deduction, which effectively negated the knockdown, struck many as too heavy-handed as Dock hadn’t previously issued a warning for this infraction. Moreover, many thought he could have taken a point away from Haney for excessive clinching. As for Haney’s second and third trips to the canvas in round seven, they struck this reporter – watching at home – as borderline, sufficient to give referee Dock the benefit of the doubt.

In a post-fight interview, Ryan Garcia faulted the referee for denying him the satisfaction of a TKO. “At the end of the day, Harvey Dock, I think he was tripping,” said Garcia. “He could have stopped that fight.”

Those that played the rounds proposition, placing their coin on the “under,” undoubtedly felt the same way.

The internet lit up with comments assailing Dock’s competence and/or his character. Some of the ponderings were whimsical, but they were swamped by the scurrilous screeching of dolts who find a conspiracy under every rock.

Stephen A. Smith, reputedly America’s highest-paid TV sports personality, was among those that felt a need to weigh-in: “This referee is absolutely terrible….Unreal! Horrible officiating,” tweeted Stephen A whose primary area of expertise is basketball.

Harvey Dock

Dock fought as an amateur and had one professional fight, winning a four-round decision over a fellow novice on a show at a non-gaming resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He says that as an amateur he was merely average, but he was better than that, a New Jersey and regional amateur champion in 1993 and 1994 while a student New Jersey’s Essex County Community College where he majored in journalism.

A passionate fan of Sugar Ray Leonard, he started officiating amateur fights in 1998 and six years later, at age 32, had his first documented action at the professional level, working low-level cards in New Jersey. The top boxing referees, to a far greater extent than the top judges, had long apprenticeships, having worked their way up from the boonies and Dock is no exception.

Per boxrec, Haney vs Garcia was Harvey Dock’s 364th assignment in the pros and his forty-second world title fight. Some of those title fights were title in name only, they weren’t even main events, but, bit by bit, more lucrative offerings started coming his way.

On May 13, 2023, Dock worked his first fights in Nevada, a 4-rounder and then a 12-rounder on a card at the Cosmopolitan topped by the 140-pound title fight between Rolly Romero and Ismael Barroso. It was the first time that this reporter got to watch Dock in the flesh.

Ironically (in hindsight), the card would be remembered for the actions of a referee, in this case Tony Weeks who handled the main event. Barroso was winning the fight on all three cards when Weeks stepped in and waived it off in the ninth round after Romero cornered Barroso against the ropes and let loose a barrage of punches, none of which landed cleanly. Few “premature stoppages” were ever as garishly, nay ghoulishly, premature.

With all the brickbats raining down on Weeks, I felt a need to tamp down the noise by diverting attention away from Tony Weeks and toward Harvey Dock and took to the TSS Forum to share my thoughts. Referencing the 12-rounder, a robust junior welterweight affair between Batyr Akhmedov and Kenneth Sims Jr, I noted that Dock’s Las Vegas debut went smoothly. He glided effortlessly around the ring, making him inconspicuous, the mark of a good referee. (This post ran on May 15, two days after the fight.)

Folks at the Nevada State Athletic Commission were also paying attention. Dock was back in Las Vegas the following week to referee the lightweight title fight between Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko and before the year was out, he would be tabbed to referee the biggest non-heavyweight fight of the year, the July 29 match in Las Vegas between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.

The Haney-Garcia fight wasn’t Harvey Dock’s best hour, I’ll concede that, but a closer look at his full body of work informs us that he is an outstanding referee.

While the Haney-Garcia bout was in progress, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman threw everyone a curve ball, tweeting on “X” that Devin Haney would keep his title if he lost the fight. Everyone, including the TV commentators, was under the impression that the title would become vacant in the event that Haney lost.

Sulaiman cited the precedent of Corrales-Castillo II.

FYI: The Corrales-Castillo rematch, originally scheduled for June 3, 2005 and aborted on the day prior when Castillo failed to make weight, finally came off on Oct. 8 of that year, notwithstanding the fact that Castillo failed to make weight once again, scaling three-and-a-half pounds above the lightweight limit. He knocked out Corrales in the fourth round with a left hook that Las Vegas Review-Journal boxing writer Kevin Iole, alluding to the movie “Blazing Saddles,” described as Mongo-esque (translation: the punch would have knocked out a horse). After initially insisting on a rubber match, which had scant chance of happening, WBC president Jose Sulaiman, Mauricio’s late father, ruled that Corrales could keep his title.

Whether or not you agree with Mauricio Sulaiman’s rationale, the timing of his announcement was certainly awkward.

Haney’s mandatory is Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin (42-3, 15 KOs), a cutie best known for his 2021 upset of Mikey Garcia. A bout between Haney and Martin has the earmarks of a dull fight.

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In a Shocker, Ryan Garcia Confounds the Experts and Upsets Devin Haney

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Its good to be crazy. Like a fox.

Ryan “KingRy” Garcia knocked down WBC super lightweight titlist Devin Haney three times to remind everyone of his fighting abilities in winning by majority decision on Saturday.

“I just knew what I could do,” Garcia said.

Fans will not forget the lanky kid from Victorville, California now.

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) fooled everyone in playing crazy weeks before the fight, then showed shocking power to hand Haney (30-1, 15 KOs) his first loss as a professional at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Haney’s WBC super lightweight title was not at stake for Garcia because he weighed three pounds over the limit.

After Garcia seemingly acting out of control on social media, Haney’s guard must have slipped in the first round during the first few seconds as Garcia connected with that hellish left hook and Haney, with a look of shock in his eyes, almost went down. He barely survived the first round.

“He caught me with it,” said Haney.

During the next few rounds, Haney proceeded to advance toward Garcia seemingly fully aware of the lethal left hook. He used feints and rights to score with a busier approach as Garcia seemed cocked and ready to counter with a left hook.

In the fourth round it seemed Haney was confident he had regained control of the fight, but every time he opened up with more than a two-punch combination Garcia reminded him whose hands were faster and more dangerous.

Though Garcia seldom jabbed he seemed bent on looking for the right moment to unleash his deadly left hook. And every time the Southern California fighter opened up with a combination he scored and Haney dare not exchange.

A few times Haney smiled as if signifying he escaped.

In the seventh round Haney looked to punish Garcia’s body and instead was met with a three-punch combination included a left hook to the chin and down went Haney slumped on the ground. He managed to beat the count and as soon as Garcia came within reach Haney wrapped his arms around him with a python grip. Despite the warnings by referee Harvey Dock, the fallen fighter would not release and Garcia impatiently fired a weak punch during the break. The referee deducted a point from Garcia though he could have deducted a point from Haney for not obeying his instructions to release his hold. Haney actually went down three times in the round but only one was counted by the referee.

From that point on Haney was very cautious but still looking to win by decision.

Though Garcia kept using a shoulder-roll defense that left his body exposed, he would retaliate with three and four punch combinations that usually Haney could defend against other fighters.. But Garcia’s blazing combinations were too fast to defend.

In the 10th round Haney looked to attack and was countered by Garcia’s right and a blinding left hook to the chin and another two blows that sent the former undisputed lightweight champion to the floor again.

It didn’t look good for Haney to survive.

Garcia walked into the 11th round still composed and never out-of-control He dared Haney to exchange and when within striking distance Garcia unleashed another lightning combination and down went Haney again with a defeated look.

Both fighters had fought each other as amateurs six times so there were no surprises between them. But Garcia’s power and speed were superior and that was the difference in a professional fight.

In the final round both were cautious with Garcia’s combination punching proving too dangerous for Haney to open up. Garcia celebrated early as the round ended confident of victory.

After 12 rounds Garcia was seen the victor by majority decision 112-112, 114-110, 115-109.

“You really thought I was crazy,” Garcia told the interviewer and the crowd. “You guys hated on me.”

Other Bouts

Arnold Barboza (30-0) won a curious split decision victory over United Kingdom’s Sean McComb (18-2) in a 10-round super lightweight fight. McComb’s long reach and busy southpaw style gave Barboza trouble. But he managed to win the fight though the crowd was not pleased.

Bektemir Melikuziev (14-1, 10 KOs) defeated France’s Pierre Dibombe (22-1-1) by technical decision after eight rounds due to a cut on his eye from an accidental head butt. It was a very competitive super middleweight fight.

Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KOs) outworked John “Scrappy Ramirez (13-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round scrap to upset the Los Angeles based fighter. After a few close rounds Jimenez simply bullied his way inside and forced Ramirez against the ropes and unloaded his guns.

After 12 rounds two judges saw it 117-111 and 116-114 all for Jimenez.

“I’m a hard-working man from Cartago I come from nothing,” said Jimenez. “My corner told me I had to work inside.”

Charles Conwell (19-0, 14 KOs) stepped on the gas early with vicious body shots and uppercuts and blasted through the resilient Nathaniel Gallimore (22-8-1, 17 KOs) for several rounds. After a brutal fifth and sixth round the referee halted the one-side beating in favor of Conwell who was fighting for the first time under the Golden Boy banner.

Another winner was Sergiy Derevyanchenko (15-5) by decision over Vaughn Alexander (18-11-1) in a super middleweight match.

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

One young man flew halfway around the world to take on a world champion in his own living room; not once, but twice. The other young man quit prior to one fight, and then again during another one.

The first guy mentioned is an obedient son of an ultra-streetwise father.  The type of parent where, if he doesn’t know the answer (and more times than not he most likely does), he will know where to find it. The second guy doesn’t appear to have that quality guidance scenario going on for him, which is probably for the best, because he believes he has all the answers.

The first guy is on record as saying he wants to go down in boxing history as an all-time great.  The other guy?  He decided not to continue in a fight while he was still sporting an undefeated record.  You may think to yourself if there was ever a time to soldier through, right?

Then yesterday, that same guy missed making weight by 3.2 pounds, and seemed to be more than fine with it, to the point where he actually appeared to be quite pleased with himself.

If you haven’t heard, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia are going to share a boxing ring in a twelve round go for God knows what will be at stake by the time they actually punch off.  The fact that no one from Garcia’s team has stepped in and rescued him from these unfolding events, his own personal well-being, and/or not to mention Devin Haney is, well, troubling in and of itself.

Back in the amateur days, the record shows they split six fights.  They were boys back then, so it means zero.  If anything, you’d want to be the older of the two, and Ryan had over a three-month age advantage.  If you’ve only been on the planet for a total of 120 months or so, every extra month could be a big enough difference in strength and development. Now as world class professionals in their prime?  That’s different.  Younger is always better.  Devin is that guy.

Haney and Garcia fought six times for free but will fight only once as professionals.  Then one of them will continue with their march for historic greatness, while the other will head back to Kamp Krazy, where he’s the current Mayor.

It’s never smart to lay 8-1, 9-1 in boxing.  And if you see taking Garcia as a value bet with +500 to +600 and beyond, you don’t understand value and you evidently don’t like money.

There is, however, a wagering opportunity here.

Total Rounds:  Fight doesn’t go 10.5 rounds.

Take anything over +125.  It’s worth a unit on a scale of 5.  Logically, there are a lot of ways to cash this ticket: legitimate victory, meltdown, catching lightning in a bottle, etc.  Or simply the exiting stage left of a guy who may be already plotting his next career move.

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