If the barely contained electricity of the crowd at today's weigh in was any indication, for boxing fight fans this week in the west and beyond, the scorching red hot boxing ticket this weekend is Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (30-0, 27KOs) vs. Marco Antonio “El Veneno” Rubio (59-6-1, 51KOs) at the StubHub Center, in Carson, California set for this Saturday, October 18, 2014. Golovkin is looking to defend his WBA and IBO Middleweight titles and pick up one more in the carrot that is Rubio’s WBC Interim Middleweight belt. The stakes are high for both men, with GGG looking to make himself immune to overlooking from the likes of a man named Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32KOs) and Rubio looking to do the seemingly impossible by slaying the unstoppable the boy next door from Kazakhstan and cement his own considerable legacy in the process. As if that was not a chocked full delectable enough Halloween treat on it’s own, the pot has been sweetened with a second fight replete with huge fan appeal set to proceed the main event with both battles scheduled to be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. This second fight is none other than the highly anticipated clash of Nonito “ The Filipino Flash” Donaire (33-2, 21KOs) versus the young and hungry up and comer Nicholas “ The Axe Man” Walters (24-0, 20KOs), a fast heavy fisted Jamaican fighter who has put in some serious time quietly building up fight cred tomahawking opponents left and right out of his home base of Panama.
As one might guess from the additional footnote that Walters comes into this battle having won 10 of his last 11 fights by knockout, The Axe Man is no joke. He has been the picture of undefeated confidence in extolling his virtues and to hear him tell it soon to be revealed supremacy over the more road tested and celebrated Donaire. “Speed and power we are equally matched there, “ relayed Walters on the subject of his opponent, Donaire. “But I’m going to try and be the most intelligent guy in the ring and I think that’s the plus for me… I’m beating Nonito in the ‘A’ but I’m going for the ‘A plus’ which is a knockout. I’m definitely working for the ‘A plus’. And the ‘A’ is good, but I’m going for the knockout.”
With regard to the Axe man’s grading of his own skill set, Donaire was quick to fail Axe man for grading himself to steeply on a curve that he has yet to fully understand.
“ I don’t know about being the smarter man,” Donaire mused. “ He’s going to find out what’s being smart and what’s being fast when he’s up against me in the ring… when a fighter is confident in himself they will say that they’ll knock me out… And I commend that, because I’m ready for that fight.”
Promoter Bob Arum who represents both Donaire and Walters was wary but not wholly dismissive of what some might term premature bravado on the part of Walters with regard to any easy A’s. “Well that remains to be seen,” Arum conceded. “I think Nicholas Walters is a tremendous fighter. He’s got big punching power, but so does Donaire. So I think that is going to be a real interesting shoot out.”
It follows then that how Donaire, former fighter of the year and current hard hitting four division Word Champion, responds to the Axe Man could settle some questions raised in recent unsuccessful battles. In April 2013, the Flash lost via a very public clinic run by another skilled fighter from the tropics in WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9KOs). This loss has been quantified by Donaire as the result of a lack of focus and personal issues going into that fight. “I think Rigondeaux surprised Donaire with his boxing skill,” continued Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. “Donaire was having other problems going into that fight. Personal problems… (he) didn’t give the best performance that he could have.” However the fact still remains that this loss has yet to be avenged. Subsequently a fight against the likes of Walters could help to end any continued speculation on whether Donaire while not a ruined man is now a lesser man with the sizeable success that he has already achieved having blunted his ability and desire to return to true pound for pound top of the mountain status.
Considering that all four men are true to form knockout artists, it is no wonder that the aptly named Mexican Style fight card sold over 50% of it's tickets within the first week on offer. Having more than made their quota with additional bleacher seats released just this Tuesday, the whole event has been a heady and intoxicating ride for K2 promotions and team Golovkin. Indeed, from event to event all of this press week one could swear that the already upbeat crew was even more smiles and sunshine than usual, despite facing what looks to be Golovkin’s biggest test yet. Indeed, it would seem that the “happy fever” was infectious, as even Rubio’s camp seemed to fall prey despite being the unequivocal low man on the totem pole in the match up. “It’s nice to come to a press conference and not have to promote the fight to sell more tickets and get it sold out,” said a representative for Promociones Del Pueblo’s Oswaldo Kuchle from the podium before introducing Rubio for Thursday’s final press conference. “It’s been a great job between everybody… yes (Rubio) he’s the underdog, everyone thinks it’s an impossible win, but he’s done it before… so we are looking at an opportunity here.”
At that final press conference Promociones Del Pueblo’s blanket assessment of “everyone” was not far off of the mark. Unlike previous press conferences, aside from team Rubio, finding believers willing to predict in Rubio’s favor was near impossible. However the real kill shot occurred today when Rubio failed to make weight to the angry, disappointed and frustrated groans of many would be Rubio fans and supporters. "I think Rubio is going to give him a good battle but I think there is only one winner in that fight and that’s Gennady Golovkin,” Arum calmly surmised 24 hours before today’s reveal of Rubio’s weight issues.
However, right up until the day of the weigh in both Rubio and Rubio's trainer, the esteemed Robert Garcia continued to stick to the story that they can pinpoint the Achilles heel in the armor that is the outsized reputation and record of GGG. “Golovkin… he is a very great fighter, tremendous power,” Robert Garcia shared. “But there are little things wrong … everyone is so much into the great GGG … He’s got 17 wins by knockout in a row, they forget to look at mistakes but here’s a trainer (and) my dad’s a trainer. We see mistakes and he makes a lot.”
Written by Kylie Krabbe
Photo by Kylie Krabbe
October 18th 2014