While Gennady Golovkin was happily bashing Martin Murray all over the ring Saturday night in Monaco, the focus shifted from Golovkin’s tour-de-force performance to Murray’s near-heroic mission to stay on his feet for the final bell. Many folks determined him to be the most difficult of Golovkin’s challengers, and those folks turned out to be right.
Murray’s game plan going into the fight was not just to survive, but to perplex and outbox the Kazakh beast. He had the ear muffs on and threw combination punches, moving swiftly around the ring to avoid the danger that hovered perilously close to him, in the form of Golovkin’s iron fists.
It worked. At least, for awhile it did. It was clear in the first three rounds that Murray was going to pose a more difficult challenge than anybody had anticipated, and while the HBO commentating crew (along with most of the weirdly anti-Golovkin crowd) perked up, Golovkin’s demeanor remained exactly the same–Stalk. Punch. Relax. Repeat.
Golovkin is terrifying for a number of reasons. Maybe the biggest is the fact that he remains utterly stoic when his opponent throws back and lands clean, effective punches. Now, Murray isn’t a monster puncher. In fact, he’s far from murderous with his shots. But there was a point in the fight, and it was late, when the outcome was no longer in question, when Murray threw a series of punches which landed flush on Golovkin’s face. Then he did it again. That’s when it became clear–Golovkin was letting him land those punches, simply so he could find him out of position. He calmly took the blows while waiting for his man to move just slightly enough so that he could land a vicious left hook.
Murray’s quest for the upset was over by the middle rounds, and it became a race against time–could he survive long enough to snap Golovkin’s ridiculous knockout streak?
His strategy was to use all four corners of the ring, fire off a few punches and let the ropes help absorb some of the blows. And although he protected his head well enough, the toll GGG’s punches were taking showed more and more as the fight went on.
His task was utterly Sisyphean. Just when he would create some breathing room, Golovkin would land on top of him again, viciously firing away with precise power shots. Finally, Golovkin landed a right hand that damn near tore Murray’s scalp off, and he landed on the canvas with a violent thud.
He got up, and the bell sounded to end the round.
Finally, mercifully, referee Luis Pabon halted the bout in the 11th round. It was a very good stoppage. You could make the argument that it could have been stopped anytime after the eighth, but Murray proved beyond a doubt that he is an extraordinarily difficult out. For Golovkin, Murray was another notch, another point proven that it is he, not lineal champ Miguel Cotto, who is the man in the division, if anybody was questioning that anyway. He went a step further and called Cotto out (again) in the post fight interview.
Cotto will not fight Gennady Golovkin. It’s hard to blame him. He’s no Middleweight, title or not. Odds are astronomically high that Cotto would take an absolutely frightful beating. He’s an elite name, and there’s money to be made elsewhere.
However, we can certainly blame him for holding the WBC belt hostage. The right thing to do is to let the damn belt go. As Gennady Golovkin emphatically proved, this is his division. Let him clean the fucker out. Golovkin will no doubt be eyeing the Peter Quillin vs. Andy Lee fight with some interest, though there’s really no guarantee either guy would step into the ring with him either. Lee seems like the safer bet, but he’s the underdog against “Kid Chocolate” anyway.
For Martin Murray, he showed that his razor-thin loss to Sergio Martinez was no fluke. He’s a very good fighter. And while he’ll never be on the elite level, he’ll be a hell of a battle for anybody else in the division. While he was stopped, it should be abundantly clear that he was stopped by one of the very best fighters in the world. There’s no shame in that. He’s earned the right to another television date.
Regardless, Murray helped himself out immensely for future fights by proving that he’s a boxer who’s got the grit, the stuff. Heart and balls. He’s a warrior.
There are worse things to be called.
Some Random Notes From This Past Weekend:
It was clear Saturday that Murray could have gone through some William Wallace-type of torture and still kept going. His corner should have been there for him. Recognize that your man is getting battered and won’t back down. Do your job, and protect your fighter.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. felt the need after the fight to call Golovkin out. Good lord, who the hell handles his PR? He can’t seem to help embarrassing himself. All he has left to do is pull out those pink undies again and call out Andre Ward for inactivity.
Without his power he's not that good of a boxer, I'll bet you GGG a million dollar of the purse that I'll knock you out if we fight ..
— Julio Cesar Chavez (@jcchavezjr1) February 22, 2015
Max Kellerman does a lot of interviews. You’d think that he’d be a little more attuned to the fact that Golovkin speaks very broken English. You’d also think that he’d have caught on that Golovkin could not understand much of what he was asking. His questions got more and more in depth, and Gennady got more and more confused. “Hmm, he didn’t get that question about hurting his opponent, let me ask him his thoughts on the current economic climate and its recovery.”
Roy Jones has apparently forgotten how old he is. Nothing a few more blows to the head won’t fix.
Does anybody else notice how uncomfortable the HBO crew looks when venturing outside the United States? The production suffers, the lighting is weird, the audio is bizarre and Jim Lampley looks like he’s preparing to get knifed in the spine for his fancy tie. And what the hell wind tunnel did they have Harold Lederman yelling from? He sounded like they strapped him to a flag pole. “HE’S GETTING KILLED IN THERE, JIIIMMMMM.”