Riviera Run-Over: Golovkin vs Murray

Monte Carlo, known for its extravagant displays of wealth, will see a different form of pageantry when Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin fights Martin Murray tomorrow. Golovkin is a fighter who values effectiveness over flash. He doesn’t overwhelm opponents with flare but fells them by methodical blitzkrieg. This attacking style has allowed him to finish eighteen straight men within the distance. While Murray is a sturdy foe, don’t expect him to upset the Kazahk’s momentum.

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This is the second time Golovkin (31-0) has fought in Monte Carlo. A year ago he finished Osumanu Adama there in seven rounds. The Salle des Étoiles, where the fight will be held, is an interesting venue, its reputation for glamour lending prestige to a sport whose representation perpetually veers from glittering to glum. And regardless of how he fights, there are few more attractive talents for Monte Carlo to affix itself to than Gennady Golovkin. He has proven himself to be, by far, the best of the world’s 160 pounders. He is also among the elite’s most active boxers. This has drawn praise from those who prefer the best compete regularly, and scorn from those critical of his level of opposition.

His adversary, Martin Murray (29-1-1), is a decent middleweight whose best opponent is former titleholder Sergio Martinez. Murray lost a close unanimous decision to the Argentine, which many criticized as a hometown ruling. He also drew with Felix Sturm in 2012 in Germany, a country that’s notoriously inhospitable to foreign fighters. Murray’s accomplishments are a matter of perspective. He came up short in his two biggest moments but arguments can be made he was robbed both times. Conversely, his only two tests against world class competition failed to increase his win total. Is he just a competitive middleweight too limited to excel amongst the elite? That remains to be seen. I can state more confidently that Murray isn’t heavy-handed; he has only 12 stoppages in his 29 wins. He might slowly break you down but he won’t beat you up.

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Murray is strong but lacks pop.

I find it difficult to envision Golovkin not handling Murray easily. The Englishman’s power won’t dissuade Golovkin from coming forward and cutting off large swathes of the ring with his steady, carefully placed feet. In the past Murray has retreated backwards when pressured, holding his guard high. Marco Antonio Rubio and Curtis Stevens adopted that same defensive position against Golovkin, and the Kazakh’s carefully placed hooks easily found their target. As noted, Murray’s power is modest, and once Golovkin feels, and is then emboldened by, his lack of pop, expect the fight to proceed in the usual way.

The usual way, where Gennady Golovkin is concerned, ends with his opponent receiving significant brain trauma. To have a chance, Murray will have to rely on activity, but this might be his undoing because by fighting offensively he’ll open himself up. Still, it might be his only chance, because whatever corner of the ring he retreats to, Golovkin will find him.

Golovkin has pop aplenty.
Golovkin has pop aplenty.

‘GGG’ can walk an opponent down and beat him up. He can take a punch and land a much harder one in return. He can land a punch, step back to reassess where to place his next shot, and finish his opponent by digging to the midsection or by circumventing his guard and going over the top, as he did against Marco Antonio Rubio. ‘GGG’s’ punches, which are delivered precisely, logically, and always to the most vulnerable areas of the body, suck the fight right out of his opponents. It is just a matter of time.

It is always just a matter of time because Golovkin hasn’t fought anyone talented enough to hurt him. He shouldn’t be faulted for this. Unlike those fighters whose rises were made possible by exploiting day-before weigh-ins, ‘GGG’ is a true middleweight who built his resume beating men his size. Unfortunately, the 160 pound division lacks depth and he’s emerged as its only luminary. By staying at middleweight, where each fight is a mechanical exercise in which he does away with the ‘next available guy’, Golovkin doesn’t get a chance to stretch his talent. To be truly tested, he needs someone whose boxing skills can offset his power.

GGG Rubio
Golovkin pummels Rubio, who provided no test.

This might be an underestimation of Martin Murray. The steely-eyed Brit will come to fight and has a slight size advantage. He is not a joke, nor am I dismissive of his talent, but I don’t think he’s gifted enough to trouble ‘GGG’. There is simply too wide a gulf in ability, since advantages in power, ring generalship, and punching repertoire are all held by the same man. Murray was competitive against a bad version of Sergio Martinez but on Saturday he’ll be confronted with a cruel new reality, where every mistake is dealt with punishingly. There are no mulligans against Gennady Golovkin. If there’s a dent in your defensive wall, the cavalry will ride right through it.

Clearly aware, but likely indifferent to the perception of him as just another hapless contender, Murray will bring the best version of himself. It may not even matter. ‘GGG’ should win, and win handily, and then move on to bigger talents like Andre Ward, Julio Chavez Jr., or even Carl Froch, whose skill, or, in the latter instances, iron chins, might finally create some discomfort for him. Monte Carlo is a place that revels in its sophistication and boxing fans will receive a worthy show on Saturday. Golovkin doesn’t gleam like the Ferraris that sit outside its casino but his engine is equally potent. It is power, though, and not speed, that will rule the night. Martin Murray won’t get out-raced. He’ll get run over.                              — Eliott McCormick

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