Two things are abundantly clear when analysing Gennady Golovkin’s effect on the United States and its boxing culture.
Firstly, the man from Kazakhstan is one hell of a fighter, someone whose desperation to excite brings the crowds flocking and keeps them firmly positioned on the edge of their seats. Secondly, there is now absolutely no doubt that this son of a coal miner who was raised on the dangerous, violence-filled streets of Kazakhstan has firmly broken into the American market and is threatening to elevate his status even further.
With Floyd Mayweather relaxing in his mansion and Manny Pacquiao gearing up for parliament, there is a void when it comes to a truly marketable, top-class boxing hero . One which appeals to all.
If the reception here in Los Angeles on Saturday night was anything to go by, Golovkin’s time is certainly now. His emphatic win over Dominic Wade brought a capacity 16,000 crowd to their feet.
This guy shifts tickets – in his last fight in October against David Lemiuex, Madison Square Garden was packed. Considering it was a European versus a Canadian, filling the grand old arena (the show was also his first HBO pay-per-view) really was an impressive feat.
They say styles make fights. Yet styles also make money. And in Golovkin’s case, a lot of capital has already been pocketed. The 34-year-old recently became only the third boxer to sign with Nike’s Air Jordan brand, another route in the mainstream initially facilitated by his appearance in a TV advert for the Apple watch last year and his brilliance in the ring.
It's over! Gennady Golovkin knocks out Dominic Wade in the 2nd round. Golovkin stays undefeated, improving to 35-0. pic.twitter.com/ulp6zIAfbM— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 24, 2016
Undoubtedly, Golovkin’s all-action displays have set the foundations and turned him into a marketing man’s dream. Now though, the ultimate test is being sought.
The WBC have instructed the winner of Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan must meet the Kazakh. The prospect of Golovkin v Alvarez – Khan has already been written off in the US– is being trumpeted as the mega fight of 2016.
Whether it happens is another entire matter. There are doubts as to whether Canelo will place his reputation and risk a financial hammer blow against an opponent who could cause him serious damage. No matter. Golovkin would happily travel to London and rip Billy Joe Saunders’ WBO belt from his grasp, thereby completing his dream of unifying the division.
Manager Tom Loeffler, of K2 promotions, must thank his lucky stars to have a client who’s open to everything.
“Gennady understands the importance of promoting his image, “ he told Sport 360. “It’s a universal style – when we have been to China, England, Monte Carlo – everyone loves a knock-out. Maybe more in the US when you had the whole Tyson effect when he was knocking everyone down, every time Gennady enters the ring, people are expecting the same.
“When I have a suggestion, they are always up for it. He’s becoming very popular in Korea – his grandfather was born there, was on the cover of the biggest Korean magazine in the US and now their TV companies have picked up on it.
“He went to the Golden Globes and the Emmys and was on the red carpet. It’s not just about exposing him to sports fans, it’s about exposing him to people who would appreciate his style outside of the ring. That’s why these global brands are interested.”
Naturally, Golovkin is Kazakhstan’s proudest sporting export. Yet, interestingly, there was an initial anger from some at seeing their favourite son make hay Stateside.
“People say to me ‘hey G, why you go to America? Why you not stay and fight here,” said Golovkin.
“Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union for a long time so all they knew was amateur sports and the importance of winning gold medals at the Olympic games, “ explained Loeffler. “They didn’t understand the magnitude of what was possible if he was to turn pro. I think they understand that now.“
With everything in place, that super-fight must be sorted but one problem may remain when it comes to finding the best opponents: Is GGG simply too good?
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