You don’t have to look very far to find fighters who’ve been avoided. Boxing has always been loaded with guys that other boxers swerve to avoid like a monstrous deer in the road. In recent history, the Middleweight division has seen its share of dudes nobody wanted to go near.
Bernard Hopkins owned the division for about seven centuries. But he was always desperate for that one big fight. Before scoring his signature wins over Felix Trinidad in 2001 and Oscar De La Hoya in 2004, he had to roll over unheralded fellas like Simon Brown, Andrew Council and Robert “Why Are We Fighting So Often?” Allen.
Years later, Paul Williams, who fought anywhere from 147-160, would find himself in a similar position. They went so far as to market him as the most avoided fighter in the sport. Of course, when you’re a nine-foot-tall southpaw with the punch output of a Bantamweight and the wingspan of a fucking pterodactyl, you’re going to have difficulty finding big-name fighters willing to take that work.
Williams’ eventual conqueror Sergio Martinez knew all too well how difficult it could be to score a big fight. Another southpaw with an indomitable will and difficult style, Martinez called out everyone anywhere near him for years, to no avail.
Now, it’s Gennady Golovkin’s turn. The best (and by far the most active) Middleweight in boxing is also its most avoided. But he’s no southpaw trickster. He isn’t enormous. He isn’t a defensive wizard content to stink the place out on his way to a 12-round shutout. He just hits like a dump truck. A smiling, murderous dump truck.
His exploits are well known by now. He’s undefeated. He’s got 19 consecutive knockouts, dating back to 2008. He’s capable of ending a fight with one punch, yet shows the patience rarely seen in knockout punchers. And nobody of elite status is going anywhere near him.
He’s been forced, much like Bernard Hopkins was, to systematically clean out the division by beating whoever he can get into the ring with him. And much like the patience he shows when he’s got his man hurt, he’s been biding his time, fighting as frequently as he can, until something big opens up.
So next up to bat is Willie Monroe Jr., a crafty southpaw with some boxing skills. He’s a guy capable of making other fighters look awful. For many boxers of Golovkin’s stature, that alone would be cause for avoidance. He just doesn’t care. He wants to take on every style out there and destroy it. If everybody near his weight class were like him, he’d have had about six super fights by now.
With all respect to Monroe, he’s got very little chance here of going the distance, let alone springing an upset. But Golovkin is adamant about fighting several times a year, and he was available. Personally, I’d have preferred a bout with rugged Tureano Johnson, but maybe that’s next.
It’s hard to imagine somebody like Peter Quillin fighting Golovkin anytime soon. Quillin, who was last seen on PBC fighting to a draw with Andy Lee, would have little to gain from that fight except most likely a nasty concussion. He just doesn’t have the work rate to keep GGG off of him for very long.
Miguel Cotto has made it painfully obvious that he wants nothing to do with him either. The lineal Middleweight champ by way of beating a one-legged Martinez would have no chance to beat him anyway.
So the options in his own division are quite limited. And above him at 168? Carl Froch is on the verge of retirement, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would demand the fight be made at 181.777777777 lbs, and Andre Ward is enjoying using his career as a toilet.
So much like Hopkins before him, Golovkin is going to need to rely on somebody stepping up from the smaller weights. The good news is that Hopkins finally got his mega fight when a couple of brash Welterweights attempted what Sugar Ray Leonard was able to pull off. And Martinez and Williams simply turned to each other when nobody else would. They all eventually got their showdowns.
Golovkin will too. He’s simply too good and too popular not to. He sold out The StubHub Center, and he’s going to fill out the Forum Saturday night. He’s building his brand by himself. Not through brash behavior or trash talking other fighters, but by laying guys out. He’s the most exciting fighter in the world, and his popularity is soaring because of it. Eventually, the big names will come around. There won’t be anywhere else to go but up.
And when it finally happens, we’ll probably see another highlight-reel knockout. Line ‘em up.