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GGG vs Rolls: Takeaways from Saturday’s fight

Gennadiy Golovkin is back, and it wasn’t all the same.

Gennady Golovkin v Steve Rolls Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

That punch, when Steve Rolls smacked Gennadiy Golovkin so clean his head snapped back, you could almost hear the word being exhaled from the 12,000 inside Madison Square Garden on Saturday night to see the fighting pride of Kazakhstan get back into the square ring and work towards getting over than Canelo hump.

The word: “Ruiz.”

Would he? Could he? We saw the 37-year-old hitter looking to be that — not old, but edging towards older, shall we say, a dude learning some new-ish tricks from trainer Johnathon Banks; neglecting some head movement or a gloves-up guard, and getting tagged clean a few times by Canadian challenger Steve Rolls.

We wondered, more so because what was still fresh in our heads, if Rolls could channel Ruiz, and work Mexican style on the Kazakh, who just maybe had a bit heavier coat of rust on him than some figured.

Oh, but then GGG got warmed up, he got into a rhythm. And then he got to throwing those hands in familiar, devastating fashion. And we saw again that those underdog specials only happen every so often, and that GGG still has pop.

And what else did we learn from the June 8 big room bash from the 39-1-1 (35 KO) middleweight? Read on, my friends.


Yeah, OK, maybe you wanted more head movement and more of the mobility they’d been working on in camp. But I heard no complaints in press row or from the punters about that fourth round left hook southpaw style which threw Rolls off, and was seen in clip form by more than 1 million people on the DAZN Twitter account into Sunday morning.

He’s 37, some erosion of reflexes is to be expected, but if you fight GGG, you best still be prepared for those hand grenades to explode on your squash. He was snaking lefts and rights around Rolls’ guard and scoring hard and clean. The power remains.


Was chatting with fight write media at the post-fight presser while we waited for GGG to furnish a specimen and then come take queries, and one writer told me he was legit curious to see if what he was seeing at that media workout, that nice bounce and rhythm and movement from Golovkin, would also be present on fight night. Not overly, my guy said. And I think new trainer Banks referred to that, when he basically said he’s looking forward to a nice long camp, to get some newer habits a bit more entrenched into the 37-year-old.

Bottom line, GGG has been doing this a long time. His neural pathways are grooved, and no, it isn’t at all easy to try and tweak things you have been doing one way since you were a teen. My bottom line: GGG basically is what he is, I won’t expect radical reinvention, and I appreciate what he is was and now is.


I think it is safe to say Banks will be looking at film and looking at ways to get that early round defense shored up. Will it not be an issue moving forward, because GGG will be more comfy with a bit more mobility in his arsenal? He’s never been that sort who brings his head off line heavily, or dips so much to get a new level, and throw off the foe by contorting the torso away from incoming fire.

But, yeah, all of us slow some as we go from 30 to 40, and it isn’t unwise to acknowledge this, and drill a bit more on D. Maybe add a bit of a clinch game? Nahhhh, what am I sayin’? GGG likes Big Drama Show and clinching isn’t part of that plan.


GGG was told about the Tweet tossed up by Golden Boy boss Oscar De La Hoya after GGG’s win:

Golovkin didn’t take the bait, and he basically said Oscar is promoting, he isn’t interested in going that route at this time. Tom Loeffler, his promoter, noted that yes, the ball is in Canelo’s court. But here’s the thing: DAZN is signing those egregious checks, and DAZN want Canelo-GGG in September. We’d all be surprised if somehow that didn’t come to pass.

Then again, you may have heard, this sport is known as the theater of the unexpected, one never knows until one does. But yeah, chances are better than good that the check-signers get what they want in the fall. It usually is that way with check-signers, right?


“Canelo, I mean, uh, Triple G,” said ESPN’s Dan Rafael, when posing a question to Golovkin, and that drew heavy guffaws at the post-fight presser. No big deal, most everyone understood the gaffe came because the Mexican middleweight is on everyone’s brain.

Golovkin had to talk more about the redhead than the Canadian, and I think that is to be expected in the age we are in. People would rather speculate about the future than examine the recent past, right?

GGG didn’t bait Canelo or promise the third time would be the charm. Really, he didn’t over-press; he said he would like Canelo next, it makes sense, fans want it, DAZN wants it, let’s do it.

“There’s no reason to speculate on other opponents, besides Canelo,” Loeffler told us in the post-fight presser.

(Note: Tom also said that New York would be a great site for the third fight, and that this past week, a meeting was had with MSG boss James Dolan, and Dolan told Team GGG that he’d like to get Canelo-GGG 3 to “The Mecca.”)


GGG several times made it clear that the fans want a Canelo fight next, and he isn’t as keen to traffic in possible fights with guys he believes are more so “old news.”

The word he summoned was, in Russian, “passe.” Been there, done that with Danny Jacobs, he basically said. And maybe Jermall Charlo can fight an eliminator against an A-grade foe for the right to fight him, he basically said. Yeah, this is “new style” GGG, and no, it isn’t “heel GGG,” it’s simply the guy showing more spine, standing up for himself, not being that nice guy 24-7. Now he shows the teeth a bit, bears the fangs just a bit, and who holds that against him?

You all saw the scrap; what did you see? What did you come away with regarding his showing, or his future prospects? Talk to me about your takeaways!

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