Jun 29, 2013; Mashantucket, CT, USA; Junior middleweight Gennady Golovkin (blue trunks) knocks out Matthew Macklin (green trunks) during their WBA/IBO bout at Foxwoods Resort and Casino-MGM Grand Theatre. Golovkin won via third round knockout. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

ANIMALIZED: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin


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“Then it was over, gone like a furious gust of black wind, leaving a peaceful vacuum in which they moved about.” William Faulkner, Sanctuary

Some time after Gennady Golovkin scored a third-round knockout of Matthew Macklin, giving those in attendance at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, the awful conclusion they paid for, Macklin remained in Child’s Pose on the canvas. Gasping, his face contorted in agony, Macklin went through a ritual of pain. It is a strange thing, pain; stranger still is the body’s responses. The reflexive writhing and clawing for distraction in movement—like a prisoner throwing himself against the bars of his cell—all that squirming in a futile bid to escape.

Macklin was expected to ask of Golovkin what fighters like Nobuhiro Ishida could not; instead, he went as Ishida did: dominated for two-and-a-half rounds and ruined by a single punch. Despite having vowed to bring the fight to Golovkin, Macklin, Birmingham, England, began by offering little more than feints and flicking jabs. Undeterred, Golovkin, Karaganda, Kazakhstan, immediately went on the offensive, forcing Macklin to the ropes and banging home a right hand. With his first taste of Golovkin’s evil, Macklin seemed distressed, and retreat—rather than the promised retaliation—was his first instinct. A defiant punch or two was lobbed Golovkin’s way, but for most of the round, Macklin skirted the ropes, eyes bulging, burning energy like a fly in a spider web. Golovkin continued to cut the ring off masterfully, neither overcommitting on his strides nor compromising the footing a puncher needs. As the round drew to a close, Golovkin, 159, slammed a right hand and a left hook into “Mack the Knife” that sent him reeling against the ropes. He had landed only a handful of punches, but with those few blows, Golovkin had robbed Macklin of his confidence and whatever game plan he had prepared.

Macklin, 159, saw his prospects continue to deteriorate in the second, as Golovkin dug ferociously to his body. Now in full retreat, Macklin’s last stand came in the form of a left hook and an uppercut that Golovkin slipped without blinking. At one point in the round, Macklin slipped on some water in the corner. Golovkin stepped away until Macklin had found surer footing, then nodded to confirm that both fair play and punishment would resume. It was a gesture that revealed Golovkin’s supreme confidence: his belief that his hands alone will adjudicate any trial. In the third round, they delivered a verdict.

Trapped along the ropes, now bleeding and bruised, Macklin brought his hands to his head to insulate his brain from further abuse. Recognizing the opening, Golovkin ripped a left hook into Macklin’s body that crumpled him like plastic in a campfire. Eddie Cotton administered a perfunctory count, and the first legitimate test of Gennady Golovkin’s career was now in the care of a physician. The official time of the stoppage was 1:22 of the third round.

There may be an urge to temper the collective enthusiasm surrounding Golovkin, 27-0 (24), as he only did what was expected of him. And the question of how Golovkin responds to adversity and the punches of a legitimate middleweight remains unanswered. But he is moving the bar. That he is one of the best fighters in the division is no longer up for debate. He covets a fight with Sergio Martinez, a fight he said would be good for the fans, for the sport, and for television, but he is unlikely to get it. Martinez’ promoter, Lou DiBella, dismissed the idea in a discussion with Steve Kim of Maxboxing.com. Responding to the question of when DiBella puts together Martinez-Golovkin, DiBella said: “We don’t. This guy’s an animal.”

While a fight with Peter Quillin is impossible due to network allegiances, Daniel Geale and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., would both make for entertaining fights with Golovkin. A matchup with the rugged and bruising Chavez Jr., in particular, would best be staged in the Roman Coliseum or the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan. Golovkin may continue to be avoided by the best fighters in the division, but with his popularity and credibility never higher, and with the support of HBO, that avoidance becomes less and less defensible. While he expressed a desire to fight, “[a]ny top fighter, any champion, any belt holder….anywhere,” Golovkin should not wait by the phone.

Macklin, 29-5 (20), was the picture of class and graciousness in defeat. Having come up short in three middleweight title fights, Macklin will continue to find work as a capable gatekeeper. He is unlikely to face anyone like Golovkin any time soon.

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Tags: Featured Gennady Golovkin Matthew Macklin Popular SERGIO MARTINEZ

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey JT,

    Great recap, the fly in the spider web analogy was perfect. A combination of things give the impression that any hope of escape is foolish: his footwork, balance, jab, and body work.

    Oh the body work. I rewatched four prior GGG fights in preparation for Golovkin Day, and this guy’s body punches physically displace his opponents. Every one of them appear tortuous. As Macklin found out, none of this investment for the later rounds shit, he’s trying to end your existence on the spot with them.

    Thus, a spider web that only a special kind of defensive talent has a chance to escape from. As you pointed out, there are still questions about what type of shot he can take. Chavez Jr. would be a fun way to answer those.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Michael; thanks.

      Yeah man, two things struck me about Golovkin in this fight: he has great feet, and he’s explosive as hell. They’re connected those two, obviously. He cuts the ring off without a single superfluous step, and he closes the distance between safety and destruction with bursts Macklin never saw coming. It isn’t quite jumping in with shots, but it’s such a contrast from his measured stalking and expressionless face that it surprised me.

      I watched a bunch of Golovkin fights Friday, and the one that struck me was the Ouma fight. He “struggled” with Ouma, who ended up in the hospital after. His uppercut hasn’t sent anyone packing, but it will. He damn near killed Ouma with it. And those body shots, my god, it’s like when Vader killed Obi Wan–one swipe and there’s nothing left.

      I would love to see him fight Jr, it’d be a bloodbath. But I don’t think Jr lasts, honestly. I know there’s a tendency to get all jacked up on Golovkin because he just fought, but that power is frightening, and Jr is just too available and macho to survive. Still, while my interest in shelling out my hard earned cash for fights (and airplane tickets, and food, and hostels, and etc.) has decreased drastically, I’d be at that one.

  • Antwonomous

    I can’t believe Lou said that.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Yeah man, I saved Steve’s tweet about it. I was pretty confident that Martinez’ braintrust would avoid that fight, especially with the twelfth round of the fight with Chavez making a rematch sellable. But after seeing Martinez struggle with Murray, and knowing how his body is starting to betray him, I think it’s safe to say Golovkin isn’t going to get his shot. If the Martinez that fought Murray shows up against Chavez in the rematch, I think he loses. Might as well lose in a big payday. But if that means we get Chavez-Golovkin, well, I’ll take it. Golovkin ruins Chavez, but like that dude in Jaws 3 said, “They’re monsters…but when they die, they die spectacularly.”

      • Antwonomous

        I just can’t believe that he said it in those terms. He openly admitted that they intend to duck Golovkin.

        • Jimmy Tobin

          I don’t doubt for a second that Martinez would fight Golovkin, and I’m hesitant to use the term “duck” seriously if a guy has options, which Martinez does. But I think DiBella knows what everyone else can see, and that if Martinez has maybe one big fight left in him, they’re going to try and max out the purse. Chavez Jr is the guy then. Martinez might very well retire after that fight. But honestly, given how he looked in his last fight, he might be best served retiring now.