By Rudy Mondragon
Gennady Golovkin is an exciting 33 year old boxer from Kazakhstan. Also known as GGG, Triple G, Golden Boy, and God of War, Golovkin has earned the reputation as the most avoided 160 lbs. fighter of this moment. The general argument of not fighting GGG stems from his inability to generate money. Simply put, why fight a dangerous GGG and risk not making money?
GGG’s team has been well aware of this. In the case of GGG, what does he need to do in order to become marketable? GGG is already known as a fan friendly boxer who delivers action packed fights. All he needs is a market to tap into. He needs a following. This is why, I argue, Golovkin has moved his wife and five year old son to California. He has been training in Big Bear mountains with Abel Sanchez for the past four years. California is regionally known in the boxing world as the Latina/o (primarily Mexican and US born Mexican) hub of boxing. Simply put, California is a good example of what Benita Heiskanen calls, the Latinization of boxing.
GGG is taking all the right steps to attract the Los Angeles Latina/o market. He recently threw out the first pitch at a Dodger game and will apparently be wearing Laker colors in his fight against Willie Monroe Jr. scheduled to take place May 16, 2015. Dodgers, Lakers, and boxing is the Latina/o trifecta of sports and GGG’s team is targeting it.
This brings me to his adoption of “Mexican Style.” It is well known and documented that “Mexican fighters have developed a reputation as rugged, aggressive, passionate, and hardworking hitting punchers who fight until the end” (Alamillo). Described this way, GGG fits that style of boxing perfectly.
Boxing fans love action packed fights full of knockdowns and knockouts. GGG brings this style in every one of his fights and he delivers! By attaching himself to a “Mexican Style” of fighting, sporting Dodger and Laker colors, and throwing out the first pitch at a Dodger game, GGG is speaking to the Los Angeles Latina/o population. By looking at Facebook posts, Twitter, and youtube videos, Latina/o boxing fans have embraced him.
Adopting the “Mexican Style” label also plays into the marketing of fights. To sell fights to the fans, boxing promoters have historically and in the present time used a fighter’s national identity to stir up emotions of nationalism. What will be interesting to see is where GGG fits within this script. Mexico vs Puerto Rico, for example, is a popular script used in the Julio Cesar Chavez vs Hector “Macho”Camacho fight as well as Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito and possibly in Miguel Cotto vs Saul “Canelo” Alvarez IF they meet one day. What happens if GGG one day faces Miguel Cotto? Will that same script of Mexico vs Puerto Rico apply here? What about Canelo? Would it be Mexico vs Mexican Style?
This is what I call, “The Golovkin Project” and it consists of moving to Los Angeles to market GGG to the Latina/o market to generate a fan base. This part is important in “The Golovkin Project” because he will need a consistent following as he looks for a career defining fight, a fight he is yet to have. As far as this weekend goes, I believe Willie Monroe Jr. will not be the defining fight he needs. I do believe however, that Monroe has what it takes to box GGG into the later rounds. I don’t see Monroe having much success though and predict GGG will win via decision, possible 117-111.
It is all by design. This weekend’s fight serves as GGG’s opportunity to make a statement. What is important about this fight is that it will take place in a large, prestigious venue. The Forum will be filled with GGG fans, embracing him as the boxer with the “Mexican Style” of fighting. This will let the boxing industry know that GGG can 1) generate a following 2) sell gate tickets 3) make money and 4) put up good television ratings.
It is great that GGG is embracing this “Mexican Style” label in an honorable fashion to Mexican boxers of past and present. It should be noted that any style of boxing requires a game plan in order to be successful in big fights. Even though a Mexican style of fighting is known to be forward, aggressive, heavy punching, and fighting to the end, it is far from incompetent. This style requires intelligence and execution as well as passion and heart. GGG most definitely shows that.
Who knows, once GGG establishes himself as a popular mainstream fighter (maybe even A-Side status!), he might abandon this “Mexican Style” label and adopt a “Kazakhstan Style” title. We will have to wait and see. For now, check out Mario Ruiz and Omar Cruz’s “Mexican Style,” a tribute song to GGG.