vs. Marco Antonio Rubio

Of course, it’s not impossible to be both nice and a box office draw in boxing. Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya all presented themselves as good guys to the boxing press (whether or not this reputation was always deserved) and all became the biggest draws in the sport for a time. But each of those men had qualities that Golovkin does not. Holyfield was the humble David who slew boxing’s Goliath, Mike Tyson. He personified the heroic triumph of the good and humble underdog over all that was evil and corrupt in the sport. And, besides, he was heavyweight champion when that title still meant something - when it wasn’t just a leftover bauble because any hard-hitting athletic big man was playing football, instead. Pacquiao was once the most electrifying figure in the sport: whirling and spinning, seeming to leap across the ring in the blink of an eye, throwing punches from every imaginable angle and some which could not even be imagined, all while refusing to back down no matter how much punishment he absorbed. As Pacquiao matured in the ring (and his output diminished), he compensated by becoming a multimedia sensation; his singing performances on Jimmy Kimmel sometimes got as much attention as his actual fights. And De La Hoya was, is, and always will be our Golden Boy: the local kid who made good, who saluted his beloved late mother before every fight, and who shared a screaming teenage fan base with the Backstreet Boys. Christ, the guy even was nominated for a Latin Grammy. GGG, for all of his in-ring ability, has not yet shown he can connect to the public with a narrative anything like those men.

At age 33, Golovkin is running out of time to seize the throne. He’ll make his bid tonight against David Lemieux, a Québécois fighter with a fairly nifty knockout percentage of his own, but with nowhere near the polish or history of success of GGG. Back in 2011, Lemieux lost two fights in a row, the first to Marco Antonio Rubio, who was later knocked out by Golovkin, and the second of which came at the hands of Joachim Alcine, a solid but fading fighter, who proceeded to then lose his next five fights in a row (the first of which came at the hands of Matthew Macklin, another one of Golovkin’s many knockout victims). While Lemieux has rebounded well since, it doesn’t take an expert eye to see that Lemieux is a massive underdog tonight, which is precisely why he makes such a perfect foil for Golovkin’s debut as a pay-per-view headliner.


vs. Gabriel Rosado

And this brings us to the final strike against Golovkin, for all his success, he has yet to face a signature opponent, a fighter with the stature to escalate him to the next level. Until he does, it’s tough for fight fans to say whether Golovkin is the horrifying force of nature that Hamilton Nolan witnessed two years ago, or just a big scary fish in a small pond.


Should you spring for the fight tonight? Absolutely. It should make for a great clash, as long as it lasts. Lemieux knows his only chance is to go for the knockout and Golovkin, well, he doesn’t know how to fight any other way. But don’t tune in tonight if you want to see the next Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. Golovkin just isn’t that guy, and he’s not going to be. You’ll need to wait at least one more week for that, when (in my view) the best fighter in the world today, Terrence “Bud” Crawford returns to the ring on HBO World Championship Boxing. (That one is for free, too.) Nope, tonight you should just tune in and enjoy this generation’s Julio Cesar Chavez. And, for the scariest man on the planet, there shouldn’t be the need for any praise higher than that.

Daniel Roberts (IronMikeGallego) is a longtime boxing fan and occasional contributor to Deadspin and SportsOnEarth. He can be found on Twitter @ironmikegallego or at ironmikegallego@gmail.com. Top photo via Getty Images