Bloody brutality of boxing – mean intentions

How many more men do I have to see maimed and killed to finally accept what this sport is about?  And yet I wonder if I’ll ever get out…


–          Oliver McCall, former heavyweight champion, from The Soul of Boxing


Knockout power is dangerous and exciting.  To separate a man from his senses so effortlessly is worth millions in danger money.  To watch a man who has knocked out 27 men from 30 wins is compelling vision.


On Sunday, Gennady Golovkin etched another notch in his belt with a third round technical knockout over Daniel Geale.  Golovkin proved again what everyone knew.


He punches with mean intentions.  His chin is solid.  He is tough and relentless.  Against Geale he was barely tested.  His jab pieced Geale’s defence.  He sunk hooks to the body and cut Geale with a left hook in the first round.


Instead of boxing and staying out of range, Geale tried to punch with a puncher.  To show he wasn’t intimidated, he dared Golovkin to attack.  Geale had some success on the inside and slipped a lot of punches but whenever he stopped moving, Golovkin attacked.


Punching with a puncher, particularly early in a fight, is usually the quickest way to lose.


At the end of the first round, Abel Sanchez instructed Golovkin to moving forward.


‘Keep tapping him and walk him down,’ Sanchez said.


In the second, Golovkin tapped Geale with a combination and put him down.  Geale was up quickly, complaining to referee Mike Ortega about a punch to the back of the head.


Ortega gave Geale the standing eight count and ignored the complaint.


By the third round, the glob of Vaseline above Geale’s right eye couldn’t hide the swelling.  Geale fought bravely, letting his punches go, refusing to back up.  He landed jabs and hooks to the body.  Golovkin threw short, sharp punches that had Geale ducking and diving like a puppet.


Late in the round, Geale landed the hardest right hand of his career.  It cannoned into Golovkin’s face.  Geale’s expression twisted into a satisfied grimace, take that, as Golovkin swayed back about six inches from the force of the punch.


Geale, after landing the right hand, seemed frozen as Golovkin responded with his own right hook.  Geale didn’t see it coming.  He was probably waiting for Golovkin to fall over.


Elation turned to horror as the punch thwacked into Geale’s jaw.  A second later, Geale stared up at Ortega.  He got up at four and moved around the ring on unsteady legs while Ortega gave him the standing eight count.


When Ortega reached eight, Geale was leaking blood from his nose and the cut above his right eye.  He shook his head.  Ortega correctly waved the fight off then thrust his arms around the challenger as Geale slumped backwards into the ropes.


That is the power of Golovkin.

It is rare in boxing to see two men land big right hands almost simultaneously.  What happened next wasn’t so rare and it highlighted the difference in punching power.  Geale doesn’t have knockout power.  Golovkin does.


All it takes is one punch.


In the aftermath, Geale suggested he wanted to continue, that he was shaking his head because he got knocked down.  He might be telling the truth, but watch the replay of the knockdown if you want to believe him.


Ortega made the right decision.  There can be no controversy.  Geale wasn’t going to win the fight.


Golovkin isn’t excessively muscular.  He doesn’t have a thick torso, barrel hips or solid legs.  He doesn’t look like a hard puncher.


He resembles Kostya Tszyu in appearance and the way he stalks his opponents.  Tszyu had similar punching power without looking like a power puncher.


Such power isn’t created.  It is natural.


Against Geale, Golovkin was calm beyond reason, unperturbed by anything that came at him.  He stood right in front of Geale, offering small gaps, a glimpse of his belly, a flash of his chin.  When Geale aimed for those gaps, Golovkin countered.


When Geale slipped punches he expended a lot of energy and looked awkward.  Golovkin slipped punches with subtle head movement, a twist of his body or small steps backwards and sideways.


His combinations expended little energy.  Whenever he was hit, he barely flinched.


Golovkin seems in tune with boxing, like he was built to fight.  His weaknesses seem obvious but no man has exploited them.  Fights against Migel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao could earn him millions.


Boxing is bloody brutality.  A rare fighter is one who walks away from the brutality without fear or future favour.


Because no man, no matter how, is built for boxing…


About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Gregor Lewis says

    I think its the difference between aptitude and acceptance.

    One can be harnessed & developed. The other, as you say with power Matt, is innate, sometimes incongruously ineffable.

    Boxing’s acknowledged ‘warriors’ often are able to combine a supreme aptitude for combat with an equanimity of acceptance, in their bodies’ response to combat.

    Some special cases are so accepting they invite being hit to initiate a natural response.

    Golovkin seems to be even more special than that. In 380 sanctioned contests, both Amateur & Professional, Golovkin has not been down, or if anecdotal evidence is to be believed, even hurt.

    Part of that might have to do with his overwhelming offense. But surely somewhere, someone in 380 contests might just have gotten something in.

    As you say Matt, that right hand from Geale landed so clean, he could have been forgiven for expecting a defensive reaction …

    The rest, as they say is history, brilliantly captured by you above.

    IMO acceptance is deeply rooted in belief. Golovkin’s belief hasn’t been cracked yet. There have been some prime examples over the years.

    None bigger than Muhammad Ali. Decried as a dancing dandy by some in his first Heavyweight Reign, his indomitable self-belief enabled him to endure more than his physical body was ultimately able to accept. Now that fierce spirit is held prisoner inside the ever diminishing shell, The Greatest’s body has become.

    A cautionary tale for Golovkin to take heed of perhaps.


  2. The real win here is to go to NYC, The Garden, and climb through the ropes with GGG. Great article at The Stacks recently about how scared Floyd Patterson was before he fought. Another about how scared George Foreman was of Smokin Joe. (“Down goes Frazier. Down goes Frazier”)
    So I give total respect to Geale, he goes where the fire is. Meanwhile, The Man’s people are probably trying to dry out Lester Ellis for another go round.

  3. The People's Elbow says

    …nailed it, ajc.

  4. Golovkin presents as being in a class of his own. Powerful puncher, quick mover, superb record. For Daniel Geale, a peak he couldn’t scale. Despite Sam Solimans dedication, and never say die attitude i would be suprised if he troubled Golovkin. None the less he will give a 110% if the pair fight.

    Where is Will Tomlinson ?


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