Manny Pacquiao busting up Antonio Margarito inside of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex. (Photo: Chris Farina – Top Rank)
By Chris Robinson
Over the past year, Kazakhstan native Gennady Golovkin has established himself as one of the sport’s pure punchers while also showing himself to be a true gentleman outside of the ropes.
As punishing of a fighter as there seems to be on today’s landscape, Golovkin comes across as completely modest once one takes the time to get to know him.
Set to defend his WBA middleweight title against Curtis Stevens on Nov. 2 in an HBO showdown from the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Golovkin had spent nearly the past two months tucked away in the mountains of Big Bear, Calif. as he prepared for the match.
During that time, I was able to gather Golovkin’s thoughts on another significant fight taking place three weeks after his; the Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios clash.
Starting off, it was easy to tell how Rios’ all-action style has seemed to win Golovkin over.
“I respect Brandon,” Golovkin stated. “Brandon is a brave fighter.
“Brandon has a big chance,” Golovkin added. “He’s a good fighter. Strong punch, good coach. He’s a great fighter [against] anybody.”
In an instant, however, Golovkin expressed his belief in Pacquiao being a level above his forthcoming foe.
“It’s a different style and a different class,” Golovkin said. “Manny, for me, he’s number one. He’s first-class.”
With his aggressive style, certain insiders believe Rios is tailor-made for Pacquiao due to the movement, speed, and combination-punching that the southpaw from General Santos City, Philippines possesses.
Some have even gone as far as to compare the Rios fight to Pacquiao’s drubbing of Antonio Margarito in November of 2011.
A former stable mate of Rios, Margarito was thoroughly outclassed and severely punished at the hands of Pacquiao to the point where he was left with a fractured orbital bone in the bout’s aftermath.
“I think [it’s] the same fight,” Golovkin said. “It’s the same style. Brandon, he’s a good fighter but he doesn’t have speed like Manny. [Pacquiao] is much better at moving and his speed is much better.
“For Brandon it’s a big problem, the speed,” Golovkin added.
Those supporting Rios point to Pacquiao’s most recent outing, a one-punch knockout loss at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez this past December, as one of the key reasons why the eight-division champion likely won’t be the same fighter as he was during his peak when he faces Rios.
Asked if he feels Pacquiao has fully recovered from such a horrific loss, Golovkin seemed to express his only legitimate concern for Manny.
“I don’t know,” said Golovkin. “Seriously, I don’t know.”
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Chris Robinson can be reached at Trimond@aol.com