In watching IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s last fight against Kell Brook in September, it’s become clear that the hard hitting knockout artist from Kazakhstan is starting to age, and doesn’t have much more time left in his career as a top fighter. Golovkin is about to turn 35 this year, and that’s around the age that most fighters are finished.
That’s the good fighters. The guys with less than spectacular boxing skills are often over-the-hill before they reach 35. Golovkin’s age wasn’t as important in his last two fights against Brook and Dominic Wade, because neither of them had the punching power or the talent to worry him. But, Golovkin’s next fight on March 18 is against a very good fighter in WBA champion Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) on HBO pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden in New York.
This is an opponent that not only has the punching power to give Golovkin his first defeat of his year, but also the youth, speed and size. Jacobs is only 29, and he’s just now hitting his prime. Golovkin has been burning through his prime for the last six years, and he’s to the point where he’s nearing the end. The reason Golovkin is still able to fight at such a high level is he had so much talent to begin with.
Even at perhaps only 80% of what he was earlier in his career, he’s more than good enough to beat pretty much everyone in the middleweight division. Jacobs and Saul Canelo Alvarez could prove to be the exception to the rule. We’re going to see on March 18 whether Golovkin has enough youth to get past Jacobs.
If Golovkin loses to the New Yorker, we could see him retire. I’d like to think that Golovkin would be able to mentally digest a loss to Jacobs, and move past the loss to try and improve enough on what he did wrong to beat him in a rematch. I don’t think that will happen though. I think if Golovkin loses, he’ll retire from boxing and see the results as a sign that he no longer has it.
In that respect, he’ll mimic the career of former light welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, who retired around the same age after losing to Ricky Hatton. Tszyu could have continued on a little longer, but he was in his mid-30s at the time, and he decided he’d had enough of the sport.