(by Frank Walsh) It goes without saying that Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin are the only two contenders to be considered as the world’s premiere middleweight fighters. However, circumstances have drastically changed in 2014. Sergio’s homecoming in April 2013 came close to disaster, when Martinez clung on to his title in a closely fought bout against Martin Murray. Many felt the title should have left Argentina with Murray. Weeks before the Martinez near miss, Golovkin traded blows with a common opponent, Matthew Macklin.
This was our first opportunity to gauge a potential clash between Golovkin and Martinez. Styles do make fights, but there is something to be taken from the manner in which Golovkin crushed Macklin’s title bid. Golovkin showed solid footwork against Macklin, as ‘Mack the Knife’ immediately took to the outside to avoid early exchanges with Golovkin. Gennady cut off the ring with ease and forced Macklin’s hand. Golovkin perfectly placed a ripping body shot as Macklin leaned on the ropes in round three. Golovkin calmly walked away as Macklin lay in agony on the canvas. Job done.
On his part, weeks later Martinez had performed an almost perfect performance against Chavez Jr. For eleven rounds Sergio held the distance and worked the ring, picking off Chavez Jr with ease before a dramatic final round. Chavez Jr however, is not as capable technically as Gennady Golovkin.
The fact that Sergio is on 38 year old legs, Golovkin’s proven punching power and sound footwork could be a recipe for disaster for Martinez. One vital area Martinez has an undoubted advantage is in experience. Macklin is Golovkin’s finest hour, whilst Martinez has shone against a higher level of opposition over a prolonged period. An unorthodox southpaw with power of his own, Golovkin may be forced to push the fight and in turn walk onto a Martinez left hand.
Sergio does have the ability to frustrate Golovkin. Martinez has shown signs of slowing down, his clash with Miguel Cotto on June 7th should provide an indication of how much mileage remains on his career clock. So the question remains, who is ‘The World’s premiere Middleweight?’ Some of the boxing fraternity weigh in with their opinions.
Former World Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Reggie Johnson – “I like Martinez in this fight. Like myself he does well with punchers. His fast hands and feet will drive Golovkin nuts, due to the fact that Martinez can drive him nuts with his style for 12 rounds.”
American based Irish prospect, Jamie Kavanagh – “I think the fight won’t happen, but I reckon Golovkin wins. Martinez has too many injuries and is the older man. I have seen Golovkin in the ring at the Wildcard a few times, working with top guys. His distance and timing is key. He closes the ring really good and makes opponents pay for every move. He’s one that will be hard to beat and I don’t think there is anyone out there for him. I wonder how Andre Ward would size up against him.”
European Featherweight Champion Lee Selby – ” I think Martinez will give Golovkin a lot to think about early on with his slick style. But Golovkin will catch up with him and stop him in the middle to late rounds.”
Trainer of world heavyweight contender Tyson Fury, Peter Fury – “I would pick Golovkin. He can box with power and has a sound chin. He will get to Martinez in the later rounds.”
Undefeated British prospect Kal Yafai – “Golovkin. He’s younger, fresher, and I think he will cut Martinez off well and get to him. Martinez is getting on a bit and his inactivity due to injuries will play a part in it. If the fight happens.”
Sergio Martinez will meet Miguel Cotto for the middleweight title on June 7th. Sergio’s manager, Sampson Lewkowicz said, “Golovkin is in Martinez’ sights, he wants the fight. But he must be 100% health wise to take the fight. Gennady Golovkin is set for an April 26th in ring appearance.”
Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez said that a press conference on Tuesday would reveal his opposition. According to Sanchez, James Kirkland priced himself out of the bout, whilst Daniel Geale turned down the fight as the date was not suitable to land on Australian television, due to a UFC event taking place the same night.
Andy Lee looks to be the frontrunner to take the spot in the opposite corner. Lee and Golovkin have shared a ring in the past as amateurs, with Golovkin emerging victorious on that occasion. Both men require big performances in their respective bouts. If Sergio Martinez can come through this bout injury free and both emerge victorious, Martinez vs. Golovkin is the natural fight to make. A stylistically pleasing fight that would crown the true premiere fighter at 160lbs.