Gennady “GGG” Golovkin resumes his pillage of the middleweight division when he travels to Monaco to take on Britain’s Martin Murray this Saturday.
HBO will carry the fight stateside at 5:45 p.m. ET, encore at 10:45 p.m. ET. Channel 5 has it in the UK at 22:00.
Golovkin will be making his third WBA Super world middleweight title defense, and he will be looking to give the audience at the Salle des Étoiles in Monte Carlo a night to remember.
“People love my style. It’s like Mexican style,” Golovkin said. “People like knockouts. I like knockouts. This is boxing so I want a knockout. It’s very important for me. I like big drama show. I like knockouts.”
Here is what you need to know for Saturday’s Monaco melee.
1. Gennady Golovkin Is Boxing’s Most Avoided Man
Top middleweights boxers beat their chests and call themselves ‘warriors’ and ‘champions’. Yet few are willing to step into the ring opposite undefeated bruiser Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs).
With a 90% knockout ratio and 18 straight stoppages, the Olympic silver medalist has garnered a reputation as one of today’s hardest hitting, most-feared sluggers. As a result, Golovkin’s team has difficulty finding suitable opposition for the Kazakhstani.
“The truth is that nobody wants to fight Gennady,” trainer Abel Sanchez said to ESPN. “He is too good and even in sparring, world champions are reluctant to share the ring with him – there is a lot of talk, but not a lot of action.”
In his previous encounter GGG flattened Marco Antonio Rubio with a second-round kayo at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. That bout followed vicious knockout victories over Australian Daniel Geale and title holder Osumanu Adama.
2. The Odds Are Stacked Against Martin Murray
Despite entering the fight a 10 to 1 underdog, mid-level contender Martin Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs) presents one of GGG’s toughest tests yet.
Saturday’s bout will be Murray’s third shot at a world title. In December 2011, he travelled to Germany to challenge Felix Sturm for his WBA Super World middleweight title belt. His effort there, against elite opposition, was only enough to earn him a draw.
In April 2014 Murray suffered his first professional loss when, in the middle of a torrential downpour and in front of over 40,000 raving Argentines, he took on WBC World middleweight champ Sergio Martinez. Despite Murray dropping Maravilla in the eighth round, the judges rewarded the hometown hero a close but unanimous decision.
“The fight was what it was. I was fighting Sergio in Argentina, his own back yard,” Murray, 32 years old, told Fox Sports. “So I knew everything was gonna be stacked against me. I knew it would be hard to get a decision over there. Maybe if it had not been in his own backyard, I would have won the fight.”
Martin Murray was last in the ring October 2014, with a technical decision win over Domenico Spada– Spada had suffered a contest-ending cut over his eye. Prior to that, Murray had dispatched Ukrainian plotter Max Bursak and Ghanaian palooka Ishmael Tetteh.
3. Murray’s Career Has Been Held Back by His Criminal Past
Growing up in tough St. Helens, England, Murray had fallen into trouble with the law and had spent time behind bars.
“I went away four times,” Murray told Boxing News. “Once for three years, once for 15 months and a couple of short terms – mainly for fighting and once for a robbery.”
The mistakes of Murray’s youth came back to haunt him in 2012 when, unable to secure a travel visa to the States, he was forced to withdraw from his first title shot opportunity, against WBC middleweight champ Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
“I’d signed the contract and everything was agreed, so to be told I cannot box Chavez Jr. because of my past is gut-wrenching,” Murray said via press release.
Now with wife and family, Murray has put those ways behind him and works with at risk youths.
“As a human being, I couldn’t have done any more to turn my life around over the last seven years.” Murray said. “I have a fantastic wife, Gemma. We have two wonderful children, Archie and Amelia. They are my life and everything I do is for them.”
4. Styles Make Fights: the Pressure Power Puncher vs. the Slim Boxer
Both fighters are intense competitors with solid amateur pedigrees. In 2004 Murray lifted the welterweight trophy at the ABAs (the top competition in UK and USA amateur boxing), while Golovkin posted an outstanding 345-5 record before turning pro.
Expect a chessmatch fight on Saturday– but one with a brutal checkmate after very few moves.
Gennady Golovkin – Seek and Destroy
GGG is a high action, one-punch knockout machine. His style resembles a killer robot– always moving forward on his prey, bouncing shots off his chassis while closing the distance before unleashing.
Golovkin, 32 years old, is a selective, economical puncher who throws with purpose and deadly intentions. He wields a stiff jab that he employs as an offensive weapon, and he carries fight-ending artillery in both hands. Gennady has excellent punch variety. He can throw from tight unorthodox angles, and even while off balance, without loss to his power.
Golovkin has a reliable chin and is always in top athletic condition. He possesses quality footwork and ring generalship, and is an excellent strategist. It is this ability to cut off the ring and apply constant pressure, coupled with his explosive power, that makes Triple-G one of today’s most exciting pugilists.
Martin Murray – Tall Man in a Peek-A-Boo Stance
Despite his bad boy background and his trash-talking ways, once inside the ring Martin Murray is a thoughtful and patient practitioner of the sweet science.
Murray is a lanky boxer who works out of a tight, defensive peek-a-boo stance. His sober 39% knockout ratio is evidence of his tactical approach to picking apart his opponents, taking rounds, and winning fights on points.
Murray is a quick and accurate puncher, and transitions effortlessly from defense to offense. He has good hand speed, able to double and triple up on his educated jab. His left hook is his best power punch. He throws well to the body.
Murray prefers to dispense from the outside, but has a decent inside game and good clinching skills. He has a thick beard and excellent stamina.
Murray has good upper body strength, and can bully and push his opponents around the ring. However, that strength does not translate into punching power. Another weakness in the Brit’s game is his propensity to not move his head, giving opponents a stationary target.
5. Keys to Winning
“Kill the body and head will die.” Expect Golovkin to come out at the bell stalking the body and looking to take away Murray’s legs before he gets to work on the Brit. Golovkin should take his time before unloading, pressuring Murray against the ropes, where the Brit has a tendency to shell up and eat leather.
GGG should look to pierce Murray’s peek-a-boo defense with shots up the middle and uppercuts to the body and head, and hooks to get around the sides of the gloves.
The challenge for Golovkin on Saturday will be to get inside Murray’s jab and avoid the tall man’s clinches as GGG moves in to detonate.
Martin Murray should look to use his three-inch reach advantage to maintain Golovkin at a safe distance. He should establish his jab early on and use constant lateral movement to keep Golovkin from getting a fix on him.
When Golovkin gets too close for comfort, Murray should use his clinching skills to shut down the action and force the Kazakhstani to reset. But Murray should be aware of the danger zone as he is on his way to the clinch, since eating a punch as he moves in could be his undoing.
By all means, Murray must stay off the ropes and avoid getting pinned in the corners. His weakness against GGG’s strength will spell a quick end to the fight.
Murray is a ‘defense first’ boxer, but if he is going to take enough rounds against GGG to win the bout, he will have to be physical and engage and gain GGG’s respect.
But with the rimfire ammo Murray carries, the only chance he has of getting past Golovkin will be by piling up the points and taking GGG the distance.
With a win on Saturday, Golovkin will continue his campaign of destruction as he makes his way up the middleweight rankings. GGG has been yearning for a top-tier challenge and he will be looking for a future matchup with the likes of Saul Canelo, Julio César Chávez, Jr., Miguel Cotto, or Peter Quillin.
Murray has a big task ahead of him, come Saturday. Taking on today’s most dreaded boxer, he will have to have the night of his life. A victory for him would earn him one of the biggest boxing upsets in recent times and a serious boost in the rankings and in opportunities.
On the undercard: Lee Haskins faces Omar Lamiri; Hekkie Budler fights Jesus Silvestre; and Hughie Fury challenges Andriy Rudenko.