Gennady’s sickening hook to the liver takes the fight right out of Matthew Macklin
Kazakh looks like he could claim many more titles
Matthew Macklin: his future has to be plotted all over again after his title fight with Gennady Golovkin ended in a third-round knock-out defeat. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
The punch that sent Matthew Macklin crashing to the canvas in the third round of his third middleweight title fight is destined to go down as a reference point in modern boxing. Gennady Golovkin’s precise and masked left hook to the liver caught the Birmingham-Irishman unawares and although it took a split second for the acute pain to register, it was clear his ambition of relieving the Kazakh of his WBA/IBO crown was gone.
Golovkin’s putative opponents – and nobody of note is clamouring to get into the ring with him – must have winced as they watched Macklin fold.
In a long career, Macklin had defined himself through his courage and his ability to brawl. But he had no answer to Golovkin’s relentless and accurate punching and the pressure began to tell on his features from the opening minute of the first round.
After spending a couple of minutes winded on the canvas, Macklin was back on his feet, a cut adorning his right eye but the happy-go-lucky-grin intact as he conceded Golovkin had the game to match the hype and paid tribute to the body shot which had sent him reeling.
“It’s one of my favourites so I was probably due one,” he told the crowd at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, the fans torn between appreciation of the extraordinary punch which had ended the fight and disappointment that the main event was over so quickly.
Afterwards, Macklin spent several hours in hospital, during which his camp had time to ponder his future.
“He’s certainly broken hearted,” admitted promoter Brian Peters. “He’s a proud warrior and he’s had a few heroic performances. That’s what he’s known for and that’s why HBO put their hands deep into their pockets.
“What they were trying to do was see how really good Golovkin really is, and he is very good. You’re talking about a guy who could well beat Andre Ward, pound-for-pound and [Floyd] Mayweather stuff.
“Just the way he cut off the ring, Matthew just said he was so strong, he couldn’t keep him off. I suppose the sickening part is Matthew never really got into it.
“Even when he traded with him, he didn’t really catch him. There was a little bit of an exchange there but he didn’t really catch him at all and that’s probably what’s more sickening and more heartbreaking. He didn’t get to empty his tank.
“He’s a great fighter, best of luck to him, and a gentleman. A credit – there was a couple of times in the ring where he brought gentleman-ship to new extremes.”
And it is true Golovkin elected to stand off after he caught Macklin with a glancing head shot which caused him to stumble against the ropes.
Golovkin’s exciting, attacking nature and the nimbleness with which he moves and chooses punches has drawn comparison with iconic names but in attitude he is also a throwback to the golden age, preferring courtliness to braggadocio.
Macklin’s plan had been to live with the Kazakh boxer’s early surge and hopefully engage him in the kind of pure-heart brawl with which he so nearly toppled Felix Sturm and troubled Sergio Martinez. The fight might have changed in nature after that.
“For sure, because then he would have got in his groove, but he didn’t get a chance to get in his groove because once this guy put the heat on him, he felt like he had to do something,” McGirt said.
“There’s some that hit hard but he’s just one of those . . . like a 140lb Kostya Tszyu used to be, very pinpoint with his shots, he places his punches well. He’s a very good fighter,” said McGirt.
“The key was, you can’t panic. He said that he felt like he was under pressure, that he had to do something. No, you let the guy put on the pressure, you got to relax. When you start panicking you start getting hit with shots. I said ‘he might come out and put pressure on you, but if he does then relax, keep the shots coming’.
“He told me ‘Buddy, he’s putting pressure on, I thought he was getting momentum on me’ and that was only the first round and you’ve got 11 rounds to go. I said, ‘look Matt, you lost to a good fighter, he hit you with a perfectly placed punch, there’s nothing you can do about that.”
“When a guy’s hitting you, that’s when you got to relax. That’s what separates the regular fighters from the elite fighters. I don’t want to take away from Golovkin’s victory, the champion did what he had to do, but Matthew’s still learning.
“Even though he’s had as many fights as he’s had, when you’re fighting at this level, the best fighters are the calm practitioners. Mayweather, always calm, Ray Leonard, Ray Robinson, Ali – those are the best fighters. Why? Because they stay calm under pressure.
“When the guy puts you under pressure, you got to be calm, believe it or not. Most people think you’ve got to panic, if you push the panic button that’s when you make mistakes and you’re caught.”
For Macklin, who at 31 is the same age as Golovkin, the future has to be plotted all over again. On Saturday night’s evidence Golovkin has the temperament and skills to lay claim to the other middleweight belts – if the holders dare to box him.