There are no two words more appealing in modern boxing than; ‘Unification Fight.’ In a sport dogged with a plethora of increasingly meaningless titles, the need for undisputed champions in each weight class is vital in validating boxing’s integrity in the eyes of mainstream audiences.
This Saturday may not conclusively provide an undisputed champion in the middleweight division but it is a step in the right direction as Gennady “GGG,” Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) puts his WBA Super World Middleweight title on the line in a unification bout with IBF Middleweight champion David Lemieux (34-2, 31KOs) in Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin is arguably the number one middleweight in the division, and can lay claim to being the pound for pound king now that Mayweather has rode off into the sunset. The 33 year old from Kazakhstan has all the necessary credentials to be considered pound for pound one of the finest fighters on the planet.
To date Golovkin has already equalled Carlos Monzon’s record of fourteen consecutive title defences at middleweight, six more defences will take him to the overall record of twenty held by Bernard Hopkins. He is in the midst of a nine year winning streak and he holds the record for the highest knockout ratio in middleweight history. In addition, Golovkin will enter the ring on Saturday night eager for his twenty first consecutive knockout victory.
He is one of the finest ring technician’s in the sport and this fight against Lemieux is being touted as the biggest test of his career.
Lemieux, 26, is a native of Montreal and this fight will be his first defence of his IBF Middleweight title and only his third fight outside of Canada. He is a fighter who likes to come forward and is something of a knockout specialist which should be a concern for Golovkin. Lemieux won the title in June 2015 with four knockdowns of his opponent Hasan N’Dam on route to a twelve round unanimous decision.
The only blemish on Lemieux’s record are two back-to-back defeats in 2011, the first was a seventh round stoppage loss to Marco Antonio Rubio and the second loss was by majority decision against Joachim Alcine in a fight that was considered to have been too soon after the previous defeat. Since then Lemieux bounced back with nine fight winning streak seven of which came by stoppage.
In the build up to the fight, Lemieux has been brimming with confidence assuring the press that he is, “going to be a lion in there,” when both fighters step into the ring on the 17th October. It raises the question whether Golovkin’s style will play into Lemieux’s hands?
Golovkin may be regarded as a destroyer of opponents but he does it with finesse. He cuts off the ring effectively and walks fighters down before delivering devastating punches, particularly his left hook to the body. For all his power Lemieux has never faced anyone like “GGG.” Lemieux’s previous conqueror; Marco Antonio Rubio was stopped in two rounds by Golovkin in October 2014. Rubio who had previously bested Lemieux with a clever defence and effective counter punching was simply outgunned by Golovkin.
That said, Lemieux’s punching power may be his insurance in this fight, Golovkin has never been knocked down and there more than a few who feel Lemieux’s explosive power may test the Kazakh’s chin. Except Golovkin’s resolve has already been tested in his fight with Curtis Stevens in 2013. Golovkin won by an eighth round stoppage, but he was rocked on several occasions. Despite the competitive nature of the Stevens fight he emerged victorious, demonstrating his superiority once again.
Punching power and punch resistance will be the crucial factors in this one. Golovkin has demonstrated that he is superior on both fronts meaning Lemieux has a snowball’s chance in hell of beating him. Golovkin will be the overwhelming favourite but that shouldn’t deter anyone from tuning into what may be one of the most explosive middleweight fights in many years.
On the undercard, another fighter with a legitimate claim to the pound for pound crown; Roman Gonzalez (43-0, 37 KOs) defends his WBC World Flyweight title against former world champion Brian “Hawaiian Punch,” Viloria (36-4, 22 KOs). Already a three division world champion, Gonzalez is a star in the lower weight divisions, blessed with impressive power, speed and movement. His opponent the veteran Viloria has been a permanent fixture in the lower weight classes since his debut in 2001. He has won his last three by stoppage and will come to fight. This should be an intriguing precursor to the main event and an opportunity for Gonzalez to shine.
Golovkin v Lemieux is live on BoxNation on Saturday, October 17th