Martin Murray vs Gennady Golovkin: The Beast from the East shapes up as new Tyson

Britain’s Murray faces a tall order against monster Golovkin, writes Alan Hubbard

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The world has been waiting a quarter of a century for a new baddest man on the planet since Mike Tyson meekly surrendered his self-imposed status. Now there is one: the G Force is with us.

Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan is a monster of a middleweight who has taken boxing’s breath away along with that of the string of victims of his venomous punching, which is reminiscent of Iron Mike’s heavyweight heyday.

There is a definite touch of the early Tyson about the one-man wrecking machine they call “the Beast from the East”, in tactics and technique – though thankfully not temperament.

He likes to set up opponents with a stabbing jab before unloading the bombs carried in both fists, an old-school warrior with a mean streak who has stopped his last 18 opponents in a row, the majority laid out cold on the canvas.


Only three of the 31 men he has fought have lasted the distance. Just watching him makes you wince with every blow he lands. He admits hurting his opponents is his passion – another Tyson trait.

All of which is a mightily intimidating prospect for the Briton who is next up to face the world’s most dangerous fighter in Monaco on Saturday night.

If Martin Murray can upend, or simply upstage, fellow 32-year-old Golovkin in their WBA world title fight it will be almost as seismic a shock as the one that rocked Tokyo exactly 25 years  ago when no-hoper James “Buster” Douglas defied odds of 42-1 against to humiliate the world champion Tyson.

Monte Carlo may be a place where they like a gamble but unsurprisingly all bets are off, the academic odds ranging from 14-1 to 25-1 against the man from St Helens, such is Golovkin’s scary reputation.

Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin

Like the Klitschko brothers, and the Russian Sergey Kovalev, the recent conqueror of Bernard Hopkins and last seen here ripping apart the hitherto unbeaten record of Nathan Cleverly in Cardiff, Golovkin is a chip off the old Soviet bloc.

He is part of an invasion which has freshened up boxing, exponents who are not braggarts, bullshitters or blasphemers like some we could mention. They come to seek and destroy, but above all to entertain.

Golovkin’s manners are impeccable, his conversational English polite and respectful, in contrast to the clinical savagery he dispenses in the ring, to which another Brit, Matthew Macklin, will testify. He was ruthlessly pursued, cut, then cut down with a rapid-fire  combination of a sickening  right uppercut and left hook to  the body that left him gasping  for air.

In 350 amateur bouts and 31 pro fights the rampaging Kazakh has never been off his feet. He is reluctant to unravel the mysteries of his background, having left his home town of Karaganda after both his older brothers were killed while serving in the Russian army.

He has new-found popularity, first in Germany and now the United States, where he is proving a big draw. “I think it is because people like to watch me,” Golovkin says. “They know they will see a great show with a lot of knockdowns. They will get action. They know something will happen but they are not sure when. But they know it will be exciting and dramatic.”

All of which sounds like bad news for Murray, whom Golovkin describes as “a serious fighter who will give me a good test”. But the good news is that Murray is resilient, never having been knocked down in his own 31 fights. His only loss came in hostile territory when the Argentinian Sergio Martinez had to climb off the floor to controversially outpoint him in Buenos Aires in one of Murray’s two previous title tilts. Before that he had managed a draw against Felix Sturm in Germany, so he is no sacrificial lamb.

Gennady Golovkin with his world titles

Murray will prove a hard nut to crack in every sense. He has known dark times, having served jail sentences for assault and robbery before finding redemption through a wedding ring and the boxing ring. The Prizefighter winner says he turned his life around after meeting his wife Gemma in 2005 and turning pro two years later.

“Obviously Golovkin has power but he puts you in the places he wants,” Murray says from his training base in South Africa. “The trick is not to let him maneouvre you around the ring. It is not just about power, as technically he is very good too. But I don’t need people to tell me what I already know, how hard a job this is. I know what I have to do.”

While Golovkin may seem unbeatable, the opponent that another Merseysider, Paul Smith, takes on in a return match in Berlin the same night, Armenian WBO super-middleweight champion Arthur Abraham, is more vulnerable.

Smith, also 32, is convinced he can win the title at the second attempt after being granted a rematch because of questionable scoring in his unanimous points defeat last September. “I went into the first fight believing I could beat him, and this time I know I can,” Smith says.

Golovkin v Murray is live on  Channel 5 on Saturday; Abraham v Smith is live on Sky Sports