YOU would be hard-pressed to find a boxing fan who’s not excited about the middleweight unification fight between WBA ‘super’ world champion Gennady Golovkin and IBF champion David Lemieux.
When Lemieux won his title by dropping Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam four times en route to a points victory last month, attention immediately turned to a showdown with the destructive Golovkin.
Much to fans’ delight, the fight was officially announced this weekend and the pair will meet at Madison Square Garden in New York on October 17.
We’ve broken down the fight and taken a look at how the two compare.
Where else to start? With an average knockout rate of 89% between them, these are two of the hardest-punching fighters on the planet. Golovkin even boasts the highest knockout rate in middleweight world championship history (91%). However, the ways in which they generate their power differ. Golovkin’s force seems more natural, at times seemingly lighter punches put away opponents – for example the right hand which finished Daniel Geale last year, which ‘GGG’ landed while slightly off balance from one of Geale’s shots.
Lemieux however requires a little more effort in his attacks to put opponents over. His vicious assaults usually come in combinations and while he clearly possesses frightening strength, the Kazakh has a very slight edge in this department.
GOLOVKIN 10 – 9 LEMIEUX
Neither man is particularly quick, but nor are they lumbering pugilists. There isn’t much to split them when it comes to footwork – they both cut off the ring extremely well and can move themselves inside with ease. However, Lemieux has the slightly quicker hands, perhaps because he originally started out as a light-middleweight. Both his snapping combinations and one-punch missiles can be thrown at a decent pace, while Gennady’s are arguably a little slower – but perhaps more dangerous.
GOLOVKIN 7 – 8 LEMIEUX
In 2011, Lemieux suffered back-to-back losses to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine – the only reverses on his professional CV. Golovkin meanwhile remains unbeaten. Since those defeats, David has made a marketable improvement on his defence, usually boxing behind a high guard in a typical ‘peek-a-boo’ stance. However, he can still be caught coming in and his salvos can sometimes be quite wild. Indeed, his stoppage loss to Rubio came as a result of exhaustion after expending too much energy trying to land his fight-ending bombs on the Mexican.
Conversely, Golovkin has a more subtle defence. With over 350 fights as an amateur, he certainly knows how to avoid punishment but his most valuable asset is perhaps his offence. Golovkin’s chin is frequently exposed and his head rarely moves, however in order to land his opponent would need to move in range – not a particularly tempting prospect, and Golovkin excels at keeping fights at the range he wants.
GOLOVKIN 8 – 7 LEMIEUX
As mentioned, Lemieux’s stoppage loss to Rubio was more a result of exhaustion rather than a vulnerable chin. However, Golovkin has arguably taken shots from bigger punchers, for example Curtis Stevens in 2013, and is yet to be really wobbled. He has never been down as a professional and it is alleged that the same goes for his amateur career, which would be an incredible feat. Golovkin will be the first real puncher Lemieux has collided with and we will certainly know what his chin is like by the end of the fight.
GOLOVKIN 9 – 7 LEMIEUX
As an amateur, Golovkin beat the likes of Matt Korobov, Andy Lee, Lucian Bute and Andre Dirrell, picking up an Olympic silver and World gold medal. Neither man can claim to have conquered any world-beaters in the paid ranks, but Golovkin’s record reads better than Lemieux’s. Impressive wins over Martin Murray, Matthew Macklin, Daniel Geale and Nobuhiro Ishida trump Lemieux’s victories over N’Dam N’Jikam, Fernando Guerrero and Gabriel Rosado (who Golovkin has also beaten).
GOLOVKIN 8 – 7 LEMIEUX
A slightly ambiguous term, but this relates to how a fighter dictates the pace and style of a bout. Golovkin stalks his opponents with an air of invincibility, a level of confidence pieced together by his vast experience and devastating success. As mentioned, he cuts the ring off fantastically and his poker face is second to none. Never flustered, ‘GGG’ does not take long to find his rhythm and range and once he does, it seems almost impossible to perturb him.
Lemieux fights in a similar vein, but does not seem able to dominate his opponents in the same manner. A little less disciplined and refined, David can sometimes be outboxed if he struggles to impose his strength on an opponent.
GOLOVKIN 10 – 8 LEMIEUX
GOLOVKIN 52 – 46 LEMIEUX
Photo: Naoki Fukuda