By John Gatling
Things change. People change. Feelings rearrange. Sometimes the shoes just won’t fit any more; a changing of soles– or roles, to better roll with the punches of a hungry Canadian named Steve Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) to walk away better with the soul.
There was never any “I” in Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34KOs), now a strangely former unified champion, but there is now. He doesn’t give a shit about “GGG” or “Triple G”. That was part of “Team Gennady”, where a trainer named Abel but never to be confused with a Dirty Sanchez, spelled those words with an “I” inadvertently; its all about him now.
By the looks of things new trainer Jonathon Banks has reinforced this mantra, as a more metropolitan fighter of sculpted dimension has emerged. Now 37, Golovkin comes off as sullen Bruce Wayne meets sneering Genghis Khan, ready to put a would be Mexican styled Atilla the Hun named Canelo Alvarez in a snare outside of a judge’s view.
Since a star-making night at Madison Square Garden in October 2015, one that saw Golovkin turn a dangerous David Lemieux into burnt Canadian bacon, Triple G has been on an inevitable trilogy course with his cinnamon speckled arch nemesis. To know the fighter is to understand his vast subtlety.
I’ve had quite a few significant moments owed to Golovkin. The inspiration behind cover art for a book I’m nearly finished writing, “The Fist Club”, features a portrait outside of Madison Square Garden on that night he deep fried Lemieux in front of Donald Trump (who walked right past me and waved and it was weird). In March 2017, I met a modern replica of the star from The Spy Who Loved Me while covering Golovkin”s instant classic with Daniel Jacobs from the skybox at MSG. That night, I struck a pose with an extended fist standing alongside ace analyst Xavier Porter. I used it as my Facebook profile picture for a longtime thereafter. I’ll forever understand Golovkin’s favor of subtlety because of that night.
In May 2016, Golovkin was inside T-Mobile Arena to witness Canelo drone strike Amir Khan. Caught up in the wash of a media throng alongside a loquacious Abel Sanchez (who fields question after question on Golovkin’s behalf), I watch the Kazakhstan superstar somehow slide away and into a restroom tucked past a hallway around the corner. I follow him. Realizing its just the two of us, I take aim at the urinal beside him and never look in his direction, while offering a casual “Sup G” as I look up at the ceiling.
He says nothing, but offers a smile of surprised recognition. He’s aware that I’m media, but knows I don’t want a picture; nor do I need to turn this into an awkward moment of questioning– even though I want both. He washes his hands and bounces; I’m too far behind him to leave in unison. I’m thinking, “Damn it, I missed him.” I walk out of the restroom and he’s standing there with a trusting smile. He goes: “Sup G”. His body language says he’s in a hurry, so I rush and get some of that rough brown paper from bathrooms you’ll wipe your ass with only in an emergency, I scribble notes on it from the black magic marker in my pocket to work with. I use what I got from him to write “Gennady Golovkin: Badass” in February 2017.
And after the Jacobs fight, I see his Facebook profile picture. He’s striking a pose with an extended fist alongside Tecate ringcard girls Janira and Bobby Joe. He’s almost winking. That’s Gennadiy. A man I’m not sure much of the world has really met.
There’s a real readiness about the 163 lbs he’s weighed in at for Saturday nights’ tilt with Rolls (who weighed an identical 163). He looks… new. It feels like Golovkin is about to bomb an iteration of Idris Elba at the Garden, turning him into so many Tootsie Rolls in no time. Or, maybe Rolls surprises and pulls an Osumanu Adama, resistant and tough till the end of a seventh round mugging in Monte Carlo…
Nah, Tootsie rolls are all I see. This is the DAZN debut for the “Big Drama Show” starring Gennadiy Golovkin and he wants a third act with Canelo Alvarez under a new director.