Last night, Gennady Golovkin easily plowed through Matthew Macklin, crushing the challenger in just three rounds. Along the way, he proved that he is indeed for real, and made a clear statement about his value in the Middleweight division. Post-fight, HBO made it abundantly clear that they have one fight on their minds:
Gennady Golovkin vs. Sergio Martinez. That's the fight Max Kellerman asked GGG about in the post-fight interview, that's the fight Jim Lampley hyped up on The Fight Game. If you didn't know any better, you'd think Golovkin vs. Martinez was already booked. And from the way the HBO team talked about the fight, it's pretty clear how they expect the story to go - Martinez is the top dog at Middleweight, but he's aging and ready to pass the torch. Golovkin will come in, topple the veteran, assume the mantle of #1, and a new star will be born. Easy enough right?
Actually, no, it's not that easy.
Golovkin vs. Martinez is a great fight, and one I would love to see. And it's entirely possible things will play out as HBO anticipates. But this is professional boxing, not professional wrestling, and that means that HBO won't control exactly how this story unfolds.
Now, does HBO need to control the fight to set up a Golovkin win over Martinez? Not likely. I consider myself a big Sergio Martinez fan, but GGG is a terrible stylistic match-up for him at this point. Against Murray, Martinez showed that he's lost a step and is moving at a much slower pace than he used to. And in numerous recent fights, he's shown that he is all too willing to take a shot. Yes he fights throw it, and that's why we love Sergio Martinez, but that desire to go to war when hurt - to not clinch Chavez in the 12th but instead to keep trying to box with him - that desire plays right into Golovkin's game. If a slower, willing to be hit Sergio Martinez steps into the ring with Gennady Golovkin, Golovkin will find a home for his powerful shots, and he won't let Martinez find his way back into the fight.
But the key word there is "IF". IF Sergio Martinez steps into the ring with Gennady Golovkin. And I'm not sure that he will. There's no questioning Martinez's heart, but the reality is he is nearing 40 and in the twilight of his career - a career that only recently began producing big fights for Maravilla. Does he want to step into the ring with Golovkin and quite possibly bring his time at the top to an immediate and abrupt end, or does he want to let it play out with a few more victory lap style fights? He certainly would be entitled to the latter. And if he does decide to keep challenging himself and facing true top level talents, is Golovkin the right choice? HBO can push him all they want, but so far, the Kazakh fighter has not truly caught on with the wider boxing audience. A Golovkin vs. Martinez fight would be great for HBO and for building a star - but it wouldn't sell as well as Martinez vs. Chavez II.
And that's where the real trouble comes in. For Sergio Martinez, the risk in fighting Genaady Golovkin is massive, the rewards less so. Martinez's camp said this exact thing in January, noting that "No way" would Martinez face Golovkin. Will Martinez take the fight regardless? Maybe - HBO certainly thinks he will. Me? I'm not as confident.
So while I thought Golovkin's destruction of Macklin was great, and while I would love to get excited about Golovkin vs. Martinez, I'll let reality sink in. Let's hold off on declaring that the next big fight until those two names appear on the dotted line - and let's be prepared that it might be awhile.