IN all walks of life, it takes risk to achieve greatness; not least in boxing. And right now, in light of his near flawless dismantling of the dangerous David Lemieux, greatness would be there for the taking by any man capable of defeating the remarkable fighting machine known as “GGG” – Gennady Golovkin.
The problem is, there are not too many elite fighters seemingly willing to risk a painful defeat in an attempt to pick up the substantial rewards that would come with a win over the now 34-0 (31) master (Master? Some good judges are already calling the Kazakh terror the heir apparent to the retired Floyd Mayweather, with Floyd’s lofty position atop the mythical pound-for-pound charts now almost his for the taking). Golovkin has often spoken of either going up in weight or down in weight in order to get the big challenges he craves and perhaps he will continue to. Yet middleweight supremacy is what he said he wants right now; or as he put it himself, all the middleweight belts.
Next up at the weight, lineal champion Miguel Cotto will face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, in a November blockbuster to look forward to. The idea is for the winner of the November 21 clash to then meet Golovkin next year, with the winner of that mouth-watering match-up being universally recognised as THE middleweight king. But in boxing it’s rarely all that simple. Most experts see Cotto-Alvarez as a 50-50 affair, or pretty close to it, and if Cotto wins, he may be unwilling to take on GGG. By his own admission, Cotto is “not a middleweight”. Why then, if he manages to beat the physically bigger but arguably slower Alvarez, would the ageing Puerto Rican want to run the risk of seeing out his career with a loss, possibly a painful one, against the fast, powerful and clever Golovkin – a fighter who looked noticeably bigger than Lemieux last night?
Cotto could surprise us and both defeat Canelo and then sign to fight Golovkin, but would you bet on it? Come to that, would you bet on Canelo agreeing to fight Golovkin if he wins in Las Vegas next month? Golovkin appears to be so lacking in any obvious weaknesses, it really is hard to envisage any fighter – even greats, or near greats like Canelo and Cotto – relishing the idea of facing him. For what it’s worth, Alvarez’ promoter, Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya, has said on record – to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated – that he would “absolutely” make a Canelo-Golovkin super-fight should Alvarez beat Cotto next month.
Going by that, we might get closer to seeing just who the real and unified and globally accepted best middleweight alive is if Canelo beats Cotto. Would Alvarez duck Golovkin? I wouldn’t bet on that, either – and this is not to say Cotto would. But Cotto is his own boss and he has frequently met, and defeated, the young lions in his Hall of Fame career already. Would anyone hold it against Cotto if he were to bow put after a win over Canelo, his legacy secure? The pressure will likely be a lot fiercer for Canelo should he emerge as the clear and obvious rival for GGG with a win next month.
Will Canelo, a fighting Mexican who has always sought the biggest and best challenges thus far in his career, be able to resist taking the ultimate risk for the ultimate reward? Imagine how massive, and how great, a Golokin versus Alvarez showdown could be.
2016 will prove hugely interesting for the middleweight division.