(Golovkin, left, parries a shot from Martin Murray during their fight in Monaco [HBO])
Don King’s former director of boxing, the late Al Braverman, once described how it must feel to face former heavyweight terror Mike Tyson as follows: “You get hit with jabs, wild hooks, pulverising right hand leads, and he keeps coming and coming.”
That description seemed perfectly apt on Saturday night as Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin (32-0, 29 KO) beat the living daylights out of hard-nosed British middleweight Martin Murray (29-2-1, 12 KO) at the Salle des Étoiles, Monte Carlo.
Murray, St Helens, Merseyside, endured just such a nightmare against the unrelenting Golovkin — who is surely boxing’s most fearsome threshing machine since the heyday of Julio César Chávez in the late ’80s. Like “El Gran Campeón Mexicano,” Golovkin bears down on his opponents with such destructive, unremitting force that they are in turn left startled, pained, withered and, ultimately, brutalised. Golovkin’s fights have become akin to watching a man smashing up a car with a sledgehammer. Down three times in all, Murray was finally rescued by referee Luis Pabon at 0:50 of round 11.
Golovkin began the bout a study in composure, stalking and measuring his man proficiently before cutting loose with a handful of left hooks. Visibly rattled at Golovkin’s power, Murray held instinctively and sought a timeout. Golovkin, though, is even a menace in the clinches. Grab his arms and he’ll lurch away from you, leaving you floundering with your guard down; pull him closer and he’ll bull you backwards with expert positioning of his head. The message is clear: there is no respite, there is no thinking time.
Golovkin, 159 lbs, stung Murray, 159 ¾ lbs, with a right uppercut in round 2 and wobbled the Briton with a right-left combination towards the end of the 3rd. Cranking up the pressure in the 4th, he dropped Murray heavily on two occasions with right hooks slammed into his midriff. Only a refereeing blunder (in calling time too quickly) saved Murray from an early exit.
And on Golovkin rolled; with his percussive, systematic method. A right uppercut exploded Murray’s nose in the 5th, yet the underdog refused to yield. Following trainer Oliver Harrison’s instructions to the letter, Murray gamely countered off the ropes with overhand rights and combinations downstairs. Golovkin, though, merely shrugged off this retaliation and changed things up.
The Kazakh began varying his shots: chopping punches down onto Murray’s head and up through his guard. He strayed more into range — content to take a few in order to land one in return; he bobbed his head with his hands down, constantly adjusting his approach in search of the TNT shot that had stopped 18 opponents on the spin.
He found it in the 10th.
Hounding Murray into a corner, Golovkin cracked home a right hook and, as Murray looked to spin out of harm’s way, “GGG” sent him airborne with a second jackhammer right that flung Murray hard onto his back. Once again thwarted by the bell, Golovkin closed the show in round 11 with a long right hand that whirled Murray’s head back on his shoulders. It had been a gallant effort from the Brit but a painful one. Time will tell if it was career-shortening also.
Golovkin called out lineal middleweight king Miguel Cotto in the aftermath, yet is unlikely to be accommodated. At 32 (the same age as Murray), Golovkin’s search for a marquee opponent seems likely to trundle on for a good while yet: doling out the type of violent hiding he afforded Murray in Monaco is unlikely to hasten it.