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Gennady Golovkin vs. Steve Rolls – preview

Gennady Golovkin

By Barry Holbrook: Gennady Golovkin will be looking to get back to his winning ways against Steve Rolls in their catch-weight fight at 164 pounds this Saturday night on DAZN at Madison Square Garden in New York. There won’t be any world titles on the line, as GGG lost his IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight belts to Saul Canelo Alvarez in a 12 round majority decision defeat in their rematch last September in Las Vegas.

Golovkin cannot afford to lose this fight if he wants to keep alive his hope of facing Canelo in September in a trilogy match on DAZN. There’s no guarantees that Golovkin will get the fight with Alvarez even if he wins though, because there’s not much interest on the Mexican superstar’s part in facing GGG again.

Canelo feels like he already beat Golovkin twice, so why bother facing him again. Canelo asked Golovkin to make it worthwhile for him to face him again by going out and winning another world title, but he instead ignored that advice has taken a bottom fringe contender as his opponent in Rolls. DAZN wants the third fight between Canelo and Golovkin in September, but it’s still uncertain whether that fight will take place or not.

GGG says he feels like a cat now

“I’m showing my fans I’m learning. I still look good like a cat,” said Golovkin to Fighthub in taking about the changes his trainer Banks has made with him. “This is boxing. He brings new skills, not more power or more punches. We bring in more everything. I know what he means. I don’t have a lot of time, maybe two weeks. It’s very interesting for me. I have more to show. I have more speed. Come on, take your time, guys. Take it easy,” said Golovkin in taking about the speed with which his training team are working on changes with his game. “I feel the same power, everything, like 20, like 10 years ago [as when GGG was 10 years younger]. I don’t feel terrible. I feel the same,” said GGG.

There’s several reasons why Golovkin might be feeling better now for this fight than he did in his previous matches. They are as follows:

– GGG doesn’t need to take off as much weight for the Rolls fight due to it taking place at a catch-weight of 164 pounds. That’s less water weight that Golovkin is having to lose for this fight compared to his matches in recent years.

– He’s trimmed down in training camp in losing fat that he’d been carrying. Having less fat on his frame makes it easier for him now to move around.

– Golovkin is rumored to training at less of a frantic pace than when he had Abel Sanchez as his trainer. There’s some who believe that Sanchez worked Golovkin too hard in training camp, causing him to come into fights weak, and not at full strength. The old motto ‘more isn’t better’ might not have been in Sanchez’s vocabulary. Golovkin looked ragged with deep circles under his eyes in his fights with Canelo.

Rolls, 35, is in a situation where he could change his life the way that heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr. did last Saturday night with his seventh round stoppage win over Anthony Joshua. With nothing expected of Rolls, he is coming into the fight with Golovkin on Saturday night with zero pressure on him. No one thinks Rolls can win. If he loses the fight, he won’t be dumped on by the boxing public. Rolls could mess up GGG and DAZN’s plans for a trilogy fight with Canelo if he can beat him. Rolls has nothing to lose, and that’s got to be a great feeling for him.

Golovkin has a tough act to follow

GGG has a tough act to follow with Andy Ruiz Jr. having destroyed IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in a seventh round TKO last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. DAZN are good with GGG taking a soft touch in Rolls as part of his six-fight contract with them. Obviously, DAZN are going to want Golovkin to step up the quality back to the world level opposition after Saturday. He can’t continue to scour the bottom of the middleweight ranks to find guys like Rolls. That’s not going to bring in the subscribers if GGG continues to fight lesser guys like Rolls.

It’s an impossible situation for GGG, because he’s a huge 63 to 1 favorite over the little known 35-year-old Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs). If Golovkin were facing someone that was a big favorite to beat him, then he could actually prove something. It’s not going to be like that. He’s a soft touch in Rolls, who has faced mediocre his entire 10-year pro career, and arguably doesn’t rate the top 10 ranking that he’s been given by the

Golovkin’s first fight under new trainer

Golovkin will be competing for the first time on Saturday with help of new trainer Johnathon Banks, who has made changes to the way he fights. Gone are the days in which Golovkin would stand and wait ages to finally let loose with a single power punch. Golovkin will now be throwing combinations in bunches, and he won’t be letting his opposition get rest breaks like he’d been doing in the past. That could be bad news for Golovkin’s opponents like Saul Canelo Alvarez, who isn’t blessed with good stamina.

Canelo needs the rest breaks that Golovkin gave him for him to do well. If Golovkin forces Canelo to fight hard, he could boil over and get knocked out after he gasses. We’ll have to see if Golovkin can follow the new fighting style that Banks wants him to use. If it works, Golovkin will be the middleweight division’s version of Aaron Pryor. If it fails, he’ll be the same guy that loads up on singe punches, and lets his opponents walk him backwards the way Canelo and Daniel Jacobs continually did.

Golovkin is too advanced to be fighting guys like Rolls. That’s the problem. He’s 37 now, and he’s long passed fighting lesser guys like Rolls. This is the type of fighter that GGG was fighting years ago, but he should be fighting at least top five contenders at this stage in his career. For the record, Rolls is ranked #8 WBA and #15 WBC. Those rankings are based on Rolls beating little known fighters:

– KeAndrae Leatherwood

– Damian Ezequiel Bonelli

– Andrik Saralegui

– Demond Nicholson

– Attila Koros

– Emmanuel Sanchez

The records of those fighters are absolutely woeful, which brings you to the question: why did the WBA and WBC give Rolls a top 15 ranking with wins over these lesser fighters? The other question is why is Golovkin lowering himself to fight such a poor opponent like Rolls on a subscription service like DAZN. Boxing fans want quality for their hard-earned money, and this fight is clearly not quality. It’s poor quality. If Canelo were to have selected Rolls as his opponent, he would have been heavily criticized by the boxing public, and for good reason. The fans woud have seen that Canelo was milking his IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight titles. Thankfully, Canelo isn’t stooping to that level. He’s continuing to fight the best.

Loeffler: Steve Rolls is hungry

“Steve Rolls, you just saw a huge upset last Saturday night in beating undefeated heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua,” said Loeffler to secondsout. “You can understand an undefeated fighter like Steve Rolls. He’s very hungry.”

There’s no question that Rolls is a hungry fighter, but that’s not enough. Every fighter is hungry, but if they lack the talent, they’re not going to beat guys that have a better pedigree than them. Golovkin is a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, who had a long successful amateur career in Kazakhstan. As a pro, Golovkin has won won multiple world titles at middleweight. He arguably should still be unbeaten. Rolls didn’t have a great amateur career, and he’s never fought a world class fighter during his 10-year pro career, not even a fringe level contender. Rolls has been existing as a pro, but not making the effort to take on contenders.

What Loeffler isn’t saying is Rolls isn’t on the level talent-wise as Andy Ruiz Jr. That’s kind of an insult of Ruiz that Loeffler would compare what he did against Joshua, and say that Rolls can potentially do the same thing. The reality is, Rolls wasn’t an Olympian like Ruiz, and he hasn’t fought world class fighters during his pro career. Ruiz is a much different type of talent than Rolls. Ruiz Jr. should be undefeated instead of having one loss on his resume.

“One of the biggest reasons he signed with DAZN is they told him that’s the clearest path to Canelo,” said Loeffler about Golovkin signing with DAZN in order to get a trilogy fight against Canelo. “That’s what the fans are demanding. They want to see a third fight. A lot of the fans, just like we were, weren’t satisfied with the decision in the last fight,” Loeffler said.

Loeffler is exaggerating by saying that the fans are “demanding” a trilogy fight between GGG and Canelo. The truth is there’s not a whole lot of interest from the boxing public in seeing Alvarez and Gennady fight each other again. The fans are kind of tired of seeing those two face each other. One reason for that is the matches were controversial, unsatisfying with the results, and there was a complete lack of drama in both fights. Canelo fought defensively in the first match, hugging the ropes, and moving to his left the entire night. Golovkin stayed on the outside, playing it safe by jabbing. It was boring for a lot of boxing fans. It wasn’t the war that they thought it would be. It was a technical fight, and it upset fans that the judges it a 12 round draw.

Fans don’t like to see contests that end in draws. In the rematch, Golovkin backed up the entire fight, and let Canelo boss him around. It wasn’t the “Mexican style” that Golovkin had said he would use in the fight. The fans want to see GGG and Canelo fight other fighters. At this point, those two fighters would be better off if they fought other opposition. The fans need a rest from their boring rivalry. It would be good for Golovkin to show some courage by facing WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade or interim WBC champion Jermall Charlo. If Golovkin is as improved as some fans believe him to be with new trainer Johnathon Banks, then he should be able to beat those guys.

“There’s no talk of a future fight with Canelo or a different fight unless [GGG] beats Steve Rolls,” said Loeffler. “I don’t think there’s a decline at all,” said Loeffler about Golovkin’s physical skills. “I think it’s pretty clear he [Golovkin] won the first fight regardless of two of the scorecards. He clearly won the first fight, and the majority of the fans thought he either won or had it a draw in the second fight.”

“I don’t know how old Canelo is; 29-years-old, and you arguably beat him twice, and you have a win and a draw,” said Loeffler. “I don’t what’s declining about that. You’re 37-years-old. He didn’t knock him out like he did many of his other opponents, but nobody is going to knockout Canelo at least in the near term. He’s become a tremendous fighter. He’s learned a lot from the GGG fights. You saw that with his dominance of Daniel Jacobs. I didn’t see any decline at all.”

It might not be decline in GGG that caused him to have problems in his fights against Daniel Jacobs, Kell Brook adn Canelo Alvarez. It could be that he fought the wrong style for those fights. Golovkin showed these flaws in those fights:

– Backing up when pressed by Canelo, Brook and Jacobs

– Loading up too much on single shots. Not throwing combinations

– Not staying in the pocket

– Jabbing too much from the outside. Golovkin thought he could win a decision against Canelo in Las Vegas by jabbing. Golovkin found out the hard way that it wasn’t possible to beat Canelo in Vegas by jabbing him. Golovkin should have known going into the two fights with Canelo, that you can’t beat him by jabbing. It’s believed that he means too much to Las Vegas for him to lose a decision in a boxing match.

Loeffler: DAZN liked that Rolls was from Canada for subscription purposes

Rolls was given the green light for a fight against Golovkin, because he’s from Canada, according to Loeffler. He states that DAZN is trying to increase their subscriptions in Canada, so they were fine with Golovkin fighting the little known fringe contender Rolls instead of a better known fighter.

“I see GGG in sparring and in training. I think the fans will see his style on Saturday night against Steve Rolls,” said Loeffler. “We went through a lot of the names, but the high profile names weren’t available for this date in June, and we went down the names. The fact that he [Rolls] was undefeated, and the fact that he was from Canada. DAZN liked that to increase their subscription base up there in Canada. He’s from Toronto.”

It’ll be interesting if Golovkin starts facing Canadian fighters rather than the guys that the fans want to see him fight. Hopefully, Loeffler doesn’t trot out Canadian David Lemieux as Golovkin’s next opponent after the Rolls fight. That would be disappointing. Maybe the subscriptions would increase if Golovkin and Canelo devote their contracts with fighting Canadians, but it would hurt the U.S subscriptions. The American fans aren’t interested in seeing Golovkin fight little known guys like Rolls, who the fans see as having no chance.

It’s likely that even the Canadians won’t be excited at seeing Golovkin fight Rolls, because he’s facing a guy that has been fighting non-contenders his entire 10-year career. At least with Lemieux, he actually beat some world class guys. You can’t say that about Rolls. His fight on Saturday night will be his first match against a world class fighter. He’s never even fought a fringe contender. That’s why makes this fight so troubling. Loeffler picked a guy that is completely inexperienced and he’s unknown. It’s a horrible fight on paper. You can argue that DAZN is wasting their money by having this fight take place. Golovkin’s previous network, HBO, would likely have rejected Rolls as an opponent for him if Loeffler asked them if it were okay for him to make this fight.

“Anytime you have an undefeated fighter that’s hungry, and sees that GGG is 37-years-old,” said Loeffler. “There was no hesitation on their [Team Rolls] part at all. They’re very confident. Steve [Rolls] realizes this is his Andy Ruiz moment. This fight can change his life. If he pulls out a win on Saturday night, it’s like night and day for his career. That’s why the fans need to tune-in on DAZN or come down here [Madison Square Garden] to see GGG’s big drama show.”

It’s clear why there was no hesitation on Rolls part in fighting Golovkin. Rolls is 35-years-old. If he were to continue to fight non-contenders like he’d been doing, it could take him years to ranked #1. By then, he’d age out and be too old to do anything. If Rolls were to be ordered to fight in a world title eliminator against someone like Jermall Charlo, Magomed Madiev, Maciej Sulecki or Sergiy Derevyanchenko, he’d likely lose. As such, Rolls jumped at the chance to fight Golovkin.

“I’ve seen a lot of things in his sparring, and in his training. I’ve seen new energy in GGG,” said Loeffler. “I think you’re going to see the same GGG you’ve seen over the last eight years since he made his U.S debut in the United States. I think the fans are in for a big treat on Saturday. GGG has already sold out Madison Square Garden twice. So we know what we’re preparing for. Steve Rolls might not be as high profile opponent. Listen, when he [Golovkin] fought David Lemieux, David Lemieux was champion, but a lot of people didn’t know David, who was from Canada. I think you’ll have a lot of satisfied people on Saturday,” said Loeffler.

There’s a big difference between Lemieux and Rolls. Lemieux wasn’t a 35-year-old, who had never fought a world class fighter during his career at the time he fought GGG in 2015. Lemieux was 27-years-old, and came into the fight with Golovkin as the IBF world middleweight champion. Lemieux held a world title at the time that he fought GGG.

Rolls isn’t a world champion. He’s never even fought a contender before, not even a bottom feeder contender. He’s just an aging fighter with no wins of substance on his resume. At the time that Lemieux fought Golovkin, he had past fights against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Gabriel Rosado, Joachim Alcine, Marco Antonio Rubio and Fernando Guerrero. Those aren’t great fighters obviously, but they’re a lot better than the no names that Rolls has fought.

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