Photo by Ismael Gallardo/RBRBoxing
The deal came out of nowhere. For months, fans have been standing around like children who have to use the bathroom but refuse, dancing in angst as they wait for word that Canelo Alvarez vs. Miguel Cotto will officially happen.
But in the midst of all that dancing and straining, something weird happened–boxing did itself a favor. The sport that takes big fights, dangles them in front of us like a cupcake in front of a toddler, and then throws the cupcake in the trash and kicks the toddler for fun, actually scored a big one. Gennady Golovkin, the Kazakh monster, will take on Canadian banger David Lemieux Saturday night in New York, on HBO Pay-Per-View.
Two guys with a combined knockout ratio of 16,258 percent (it’s an exact science) will fire away under those Madison Square Garden lights. It will be beautiful. They might as well decide right now to give the judges the night off–they won’t be needed. Somebody is going to Snoozeville.
The fight made too much sense–Golovkin was battering weaker opposition, desperately calling out anyone who’d step up to fight him, while Lemieux was quietly bashing his way back to the top of the Middleweight division. But there was a shift in the last couple of months. At first it was subtle, in the background of all the “GGG” love, but it started to spread and take shape later on–Golovkin was getting some serious backlash for the first time in his career.
It may have been because his last opponent, Willie Monroe Jr., was able to hit him with what bordered on alarming frequency. The talk started immediately after the fight. Stuff like, “He has no defense, he’s got bad form, he hasn’t fought anyone, Andre Ward would school him.”
But while Monroe did hit him, it appeared that Golovkin didn’t care in the slightest. The biggest knock on the Rochester, NY native was that he couldn’t punch. Golovkin seemed to taste what he was throwing and decided to trade. And why not? He’s one of the hardest hitters in the game. He dispatched Monroe easily despite getting hit.
But the undercurrent strengthened, and it hasn’t gone anywhere–suddenly, Golovkin appears vulnerable. And who better to test his mettle than a vicious, hard charging beast like Lemieux? Lemieux’s last fight was a unanimous-decision victory over Hassan N’Dam in June. N’Dam is a solid fighter, and Lemieux dropped him four times to secure the win. I wrote then about how this fight needed to happen sooner than later, for both guys.
Lemieux was looking for validation. His record was sparkling except for two fights, losses that he suffered back-to-back in 2011. Those bouts haunted him for years, especially the knockout defeat to Marco Antonio Rubio. Lost in that is the fact that he was only 22 years old at the time, and the fact that he was winning every second of that fight until he shot his load and faded horribly. Still, he licked his wounds, went home to Montreal, and proceeded to pound the shit out of everybody in front of him.
It’s funny to imagine a guy like Golovkin, a fighter with a decorated amateur background, undefeated record, and an all-time-high knockout percentage needing validation, but he needed this fight. He needed to score a fight with someone threatening, or someone who at least appears threatening. Lemieux might not be an elusive boxer, but he throws lethal shots with both hands. Certainly, if Golovkin starts tasting them with any frequency, his reaction will be a bit different than when he fought Monroe.
That’s not to say that this fight hasn’t garnered its share of derision, mainly because instead of being aired on HBO, it will be a pay-per-view bout. But I’m tired of trashing fights. This is a great, fun matchup, and if I have to shell out some coin to see it, I’m willing to do that. We’ve gotten plenty of free fights this year, and if it’s taught us anything, it’s that sometimes, you get what you pay for.
The idea of two 160 pounders with MONSTER power and an unquenchable bloodlust is just too rare. It can’t miss. The fight simply won’t fail to please the large audience that will tune in for it.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that no other sport on the planet manages to piss all over itself when the time seems right for wonderful things to happen. Fights fall through. Guys get hurt, guys miss weight, terrible things occur at the worst times. We as boxing fans know this all too well. But the major hurdle is over–this thing is signed and sealed, the fighters just have to deliver. Can Golovkin rise to the occasion? Can Lemieux handle a seemingly unstoppable machine?
On Saturday night, we’re going to find out. Lemieux is still very young, and he’s really got nothing to lose here. Golovkin is considered the king of the division, lineal champ or not, so losing to the king doesn’t really hurt his career trajectory. Many, many guys are going to lose to him, usually in terrifyingly violent ways.
But if he wins… If he lands a grenade of a left hook that Golovkin doesn’t see coming, or wounds the indestructible Kazakh, or even if he goes out on his shield on the wrong end of a breathless war, then he’s done nothing but help himself.
If a fight with Canelo or Cotto can’t happen, the winner of this fight should then take on Andy Lee to decide division supremacy. All three provide nothing but scintillating action, nothing but pure enjoyment for fans. They give everything in order to win. The three-man race should start in October. Golovkin vs. Lemieux–bring the fuckin’ pain. We’ll all be tuning in.
There are worse ways to spend 60 bucks on a Saturday night.
Header photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing