Forget split decisions, fine margins, hostile crowds, bloodied faces, controversial stoppages or luck. None of it matters to WBA Middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin.
He has yet to be party to those elements of professional boxing that even the best fighters endure. The 160-pound destroyer finds a way to solve any dilemma facing him. Simply put, show the man a ring and he will put on a knockout show.
Leaving audiences mesmerised by performances at iconic venues like Madison Square Garden in New York and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has seen GGG’s international appeal nearing fever pitch. California was briefly charmed last time out when Marco Antonio Rubio lost a count in less than four minutes.
At this point in his career—with a 31-0 record, 28 knockouts—Golovkin seems unstoppable. Unfortunately, such a reputation comes with one notable drawback: finding a willing opponent to fight.
As Guillermo Rigondeaux has witnessed from the super bantamweight pack, success can only be prolonged to a point, until it is one day met with avoidance. No one among Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg has entertained the Cuban’s challenge.
The comparison is thankfully a little less dramatic in the case of Golovkin. He has plenty of options to consider, including gaining or losing weight to shuffle among the middleweight class. Yet as he mentioned post Rubio, Miguel Cotto (39-4) is the man to be hunted.
The narrative of Cotto not being capable to establish himself at 160 pounds has been revised after his dominant display against Sergio Martinez in June. The four-weight champion was almost assured of victory after a punch-perfect first round that saw Martinez floored three times.
Such form is the minimum requirement for a meeting with Golovkin. Cotto’s all-action persona might look more spectacular than Golovkin’s measured footwork when coming forward, but it is hardly more effective, as the Puerto Rican’s four losses would suggest.
Based on skill and style, both men share similarities. The pair rarely nurse early rounds, steadily moving rivals to the ropes or a corner. And preparations to set up vicious knockdowns are never far from being executed by either.
Golovkin’s preference is to instantly strike at an unprotected head or body. The slightest defensive surrender or momentary high guard ruins challengers time and again. Matthew Macklin needed two ribs mended for thinking a head shot was to follow a right-handed uppercut to the chin. Instead, a whipping to the body left him down and out in Connecticut.
Since that night in June last year, Golovkin has boxed a total of 20 rounds in four fights and knocked three opponents out. Curtis Stevens avoided such fate through retirement in Round 8.
Cotto far outstrips the Khazak in terms of experience and is of course known for his own power and hand speed. A reliance on counterpunching and combinations has forced submissions in the past.
Consider these Cotto’s strong suits.
When they are well-rehearsed, as with Antonio Margarito second time around, few would beat the 34-year-old—except Gennady Golovkin.
In the event that the two meet, expect GGG to manage the ring as he has done so expertly to date. Though a bout into the competition rounds can be reasonably predicted given Cotto’s resilient nature, it's difficult not to imagine a moment when the open shoulders of Golovkin stretch to their limit and provide the impetus for a shuddering knockdown.
The smallest of gaps will always be punished. Cotto’s defences might be sound, but they certainly aren’t impenetrable.