The Cleaner: Gennady Golovkin Returns Just In Time To Wash Up The May 2 Mess

Though the stench has faded somewhat, it’s still there. It will probably hover above boxing for some time. When the most lucrative prize fight in the history of the sport lays a giant egg in front of millions of casual fans and every major news outlet, the fallout sticks around for awhile.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao did not provide anything resembling scintillating pugilism on May 2 when they met in their historic battle. Fortunately, we’re still in the homestretch in a stacked few months of solid cards, so there is no lengthy lull in the action directly after the, uh, lull in action. Canelo Alvarez was the first guy up, and one week after the snoozefest, he was tasked with putting on a show in front of 30,000 strong at Minute Maid Park. He succeeded brilliantly, smashing James “Shut Up About Ann Wolfe” Kirkland to bits.

And now, it’s The Boogeyman’s turn. Gennady Golovkin is back on HBO Saturday night, less than three months after beating the hell out of the tough but overmatched Martin Murray. And let’s be honest, the sport needs him, just like it needed Alvarez and Kirkland to provide us with something special. Their bout was short-lived, but it provided more fun and violence in its three-round existence than all of the May/Pac debacle.

Of course, it was Pacquiao who used to provide all the violence and excitement any of us could ever want. But going to war over and over again has taken a toll on him. He’s far removed from the knockout artist who tortured other fighters and dominated the scene for years. GGG has happily stepped right into the role.

Golovkin is the physical embodiment of everything you could possibly want in a prizefighter. He’s charming, he’s humble, and he fights more often than any elite fighter in the sport. Oh, and he’s bashed the living fuck out of everyone who’s tried him on for the last seven years. In fact, the only knock on him isn’t actually on him. It’s that nobody at the highest level of the sport will go anywhere near him. Certainly not Miguel Cotto, the lineal middleweight champ who instead will fight Daniel Geale in a few weeks. You’ll remember Geale as the guy GGG knocked senseless while landing a punch off his back foot at about 50 percent capacity.

This is an odd position for the Kazakh monster to be in. He toiled in obscurity for years, and he didn’t break out of it by taking on a superstar and destroying him. He earned his spot, or rather, he forced himself into the spot simply by fighting anybody willing to get in there with him, and making damn sure the fight didn’t go the distance. Yet even now, at age 33, he still finds himself without a signature victory. Sure, his destruction of Geale was impressive, as was his murderous beatdown of Matthew Macklin. He took the normally durable Marco Antonio Rubio and corkscrewed his head into the canvas, causing him to forget about fighting and causing referee Jack Reiss to forget how to count.

But there’s no Cotto on that list. Or Andre Ward. Or Alvarez. Or even Peter Quillin. And thought it seems unfair to his legacy, he won’t be recognized by some as the legitimate pound-for-pound star that he is unless he gets a name fighter to dance with him. So what does he do? He keeps on fighting, waiting for somebody to bite. Odds are that Alvarez will be the first. He seems hell-bent on fighting the best, and Canelo vs. Golovkin would be a pretty big pay-per-view event. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a fight that would guarantee action.

But until that happens, Golovkin presses on. Saturday night at the Forum, it’s Willie Monroe, Jr.’s turn to get it. Monroe and “action fight” are not synonymous with each other. He’s a southpaw slickster with little pop. Translation: He’s going to run like hell. And of course, he’ll try to box a bit. But as soon as he tastes what’s in Golovkin’s fists, it’s bicycle time.

The best part is that everybody knows this. Unlike on May 2, nobody’s going to a fight expecting two guys to brutalize each other Gladiator-style for their amusement. They’re well aware that one of the fighters is a guy known for avoiding contact and eschewing brawls for points. Yet, nobody cares. The Forum will be packed, and it certainly won’t be packed because Monroe was the 2014 middleweight Boxcino tournament winner. The place will be jammed because fans know damn well that Golovkin is coming to play Headzo with his opponent for a few rounds before going in for the kill.

It’s “The Kill” that has made Golovkin a near-legend despite not owning a victory over an elite fighter. He’s gone after and secured the knockout in every fight he’s been in since 2008 when he could have easily coasted to decision victories in a few, especially his last bout with Murray. Instead of putting it on auto-pilot and winning every round, he ended the night early as Murray finally succumbed to brutal punishment.

The odds are strong that he’ll do it again Saturday night. Monroe will run, but he’ll eventually get hit, and it will be like nothing he’s ever felt. And Golovkin will smile in his affable way and give a goofy post fight interview while HBO’s Max Kellerman fawns over him like a smitten schoolgirl.

And odds are strong that we’ll see Golovkin again in three months, facing a fighter on a short list because everybody available jumped out of the way like somebody launched a grenade.

And he’ll go for the kill.

Some Random Notes From Last Weekend’s Fights:

  • My god, Laurence Cole. I’ve written so many disparaging things about that referee over the years that it’s basically shooting fish in a barrel at this point. He’s consistently terrible, but what’s most impressive is that he’s DIVERSE in his incompetence. Need a ref to drift off to sleep in a neutral corner while somebody is being destroyed? He’s your man. How about a guy who takes points away for funzies and at utterly random times? Check. Perhaps you’re looking for a ref to suddenly start grappling with one of the combatants? Bingo. It takes effort to be this dreadful.
  • Omar Figueroa, Jr. is one tough dude. He’s indefatigable, and he’s recklessly fun to watch. The problem will be when he takes on a guy who can seriously punch. He has virtually no defense but to absorb punishment using his face. He got away with it in his junior welterweight bout against Ricky Burns, but against a bona fide hitter, he’s in trouble.
  • I was 0-2 in scoring the CBS fights. I felt that Burns deserved a draw, and that bantamweight Tomoki Kameda deserved the nod over Jamie McDonnell. McDonnell gave a good showing either way, using nasty jab and firing away with a big time puncher after being decked in the third. His best moment came post fight, when he tested the censors at CBS. Awkward hilarity is wonderful.
  • Kirkland’s speech was iffy before Canelo damn near bounced his head into the 15th row. That didn’t help things.
  • Wolfe certainly brings out the best in Kirkland, but she would have made zero difference here. Alvarez is simply a smarter and better fighter.