Gennady Golovkin middleweight title defense is no Mayweather-Pacquiao

Gennady Golovkin middleweight title defense is no Mayweather-Pacquiao
Gennady Golovkin flexes after defeating Nobuhiro Ishida, of Japan, in their WBA middleweight title fight in Monaco on March 30. Unbeaten middleweight champion Golovkin has stopped his last 19 opponents while evolving into one of his sport's most exciting fighters. He expects to have trouble continuing that streak on Saturday. (Lionel Cironneau / AP)

Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin watched the massively hyped Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight two weeks ago and came away with pretty much the same opinion as everybody else.

"Boring," he said. "No punches. Nothing."


Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, promises that won't be a problem Saturday when the unbeaten champion defends his crown against Willie Monroe Jr. (19-1, six KOs) at the Forum. The bout is the second on a two-fight televised card that also features unbeaten flyweight Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez of Nicaragua against Edgar Sosa of Mexico (HBO, 7 p.m. PDT).

"Our responsibility and his responsibility is to the fans," Sanchez said. "Put fights together that are going to be compelling for you to watch, fights that you're not going to fall asleep on."

Pulling that off is getting harder and harder for Golovkin, who, while pushing Mayweather for recognition as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, already seems a unanimous choice as the most avoided man in the sport.

Six-time world champion Miguel Cotto has repeatedly danced away from offers to meet Golovkin, as has former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. For Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Carl Froch, among the top fighters in the divisions immediately above and below the 160-pound class, a date with Golovkin doesn't make sense right now. Golovkin even offered to drop weight to meet the smaller Mayweather on Mayweather's turf and was rebuffed.

It's not hard to understand why everyone is running, because Golovkin may be the most punishing man in boxing. Unbeaten in 32 pro fights, he's won 29 times by knockout — including the last 19 in a row. That gives him the highest knockout percentage of any middleweight champion in history.

Only twice has Golovkin had to fight beyond the eighth round — as a pro, he's averaged only four rounds per bout — and in nearly 400 amateur and professional fights he's never even been knocked down.

And as he's gotten better, opponents have gotten scarcer.

"It's a contradiction," said Tom Loeffler, Golovkin's promoter.

"We can't wait for an opponent," Loeffler continued. "So he's just going to keep fighting. We can't force people to get in the ring but we certainly can force their hand as to what they are going to do."

One way Golovkin can force a fight is by unifying the middleweight title, meaning anyone who wants to fight for the crown has to come to him.

"I want a unification fight," said Golovkin, who already has the WBA and IBO titles. Cotto (WBC) and Ireland's Andy Lee (WBO) wear the other two crowns.

"My goal is all the belts," Golovkin said. "It's very important. Who is No. 1? Who is the best in the world in the middleweight division?"

To Golovkin that's a rhetorical question, of course. But at 33 and without a big-name opponent committed to fighting him in the near future, he may be running out of time to prove his superiority to everyone else.

Golovkin's climb to boxing glory began in Karaganda, a gritty industrial city in Kazakhstan's central highlands. His Russian father, also named Gennady, was a coal miner and his Korean mother worked in a chemical laboratory while raising four boys, including Gennady Jr. and his twin brother Max.


The twins were 8 when they were pushed into boxing by older brothers Vadim and Sergey, who left home to join the Russian army and never returned; they died in separate incidents in the early 1990s under circumstances that still have not been explained.

The twins funneled their grief into boxing, eventually becoming contenders for a place on the Kazakhstan Olympic team. The brothers refused to fight one another in the ring, though, so Max — younger by 20 minutes — stepped aside and let Gennady go to Athens, where he won a silver medal in 2004.

Max now assists with his brother's training and works his corner during fights.

Monroe, Golovkin's opponent Saturday, also comes from a boxing family. His great uncle, Willie "The Worm" Monroe, was a top-10 middleweight contender in the 1970s who handed Marvin Hagler the second of this three career losses, and his father, Willie Monroe Sr., fought for middleweight and super-middleweight titles, losing just twice in 30 bouts between 1985-2000.

As a result, the younger Monroe said he was boxing by the time he entered grade school. But it was his grandfather, Lee, who raised him and taught him how to fight, all the while regaling him with stories of growing up as the son of a black Cuban immigrant in the Jim Crow South.

"He said they would walk for miles just to stand outside of a white family's houses to listen to the fights on the radio," Monroe said. "The fighters that they loved were Kid Chocolate, Kid Gavilan and Joe Louis. And I attribute my style to that of Cuban boxers — which is not getting hit.

"Hit and don't get hit. Use your whole body."

That could be a challenge against Golovkin, boxing's premier power puncher. But it's a challenge Monroe, 28, embraces.

"I've been an underdog since I've been in my mother's womb," he said. "These are the types of opportunities I relish."

Tony Morgan, Monroe's trainer, went a step further, saying his fighter is being overlooked in addition to being an underdog.

"A lot of their camp, if you hear any of them talk, are talking about the next thing, the next thing," he said of Golovkin's longing to fight Cotto or Chavez. "Being the underdog, I just think there's more to prove. Of course it's a pride thing."

So if Monroe wins Saturday, don't expect anyone is his corner to look surprised.

"We're just shocking the world," Morgan said. "We're not shocking ourselves."

Twitter: @kbaxter11