Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth’s gravitational pull?”Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future
I frequently comment on the foolishness of boxers returning in their forties or the folly of those who box on toward them. Still pursuant of glory and paydays long beyond their grasp. And yet, exceptions prod at the apparent certainty. Tug on the sentimental thread we all have swaying beneath our sleeve.
To ignore such pangs requires of us a dismissal of an ageing hero, one who gave so much, one trying to resist the inevitable tide we all swim against. The romance in our soul, for boxing is a maelstrom of cruelty, cynicism and the poetic, too often indulges the whimsy.
Gennedy Golovkin is one such warrior we wish to excuse. The hope that he can defy the passage of time, inactivity and the conspicuous injustice of his draw (and defeat) to Saul Alvarez to enthrall us again, pummel one more contender, find a pathway back to his nemesis, Canelo, and triumph, is irresistible, if entirely deluded.
Aged 38, with 350 Amateur contests and 15 years as a professional, the wear and tear has to be inescapable. So the prospect of his ultimate success will be defined by whether what he has left, rather than what he once was, is enough.
For his prime cannot be recaptured. He is neither The Protagonist, nor Benjamin Button. Nor Marty McFly.
By fight night, 14 months will have lapsed since the Kazakh boxed. A narrow victory against Sergei Deryvechenko, in which he was unable to dominate in the manner of old. Having knocked down his opponent, Golovkin then ceded a degree of control in the middle rounds, a notion unthinkable in his prime years and was matched virtually punch for punch across the entire contest.
A long gap between fights is nothing unusual in the current climate. The distance customary between title fights for champions stretches with every passing year, the pandemic impacted little on Gary Russell and Keith Thurman’s activity for example. The difference for Golovkin is that neither Russell or Thurman are in their late thirties, though Keith may be before he boxes again. Inactivity eases niggling injuries but it exaggerates decline, timing is lost and the flickering embers of prime are too often extinguished away from the glare of the spotlight. Only to be rudely, unforgivingly exposed when it returns.
To believe Golovkin will returned renewed this Friday is to submit to fantasy, to wishful thinking. The injustice of his draw and defeat to Saul Alvarez will not protect him from the realities of his advancing years. Kamil Szeremeta may not be the fighter required to beat even an ageing Golovkin but it will be a surprise if there is any evidence of renewal for the veteran great. Like Golovkin, Szeremeta hasn’t boxed in over a year and his resume contains little by way of qualification, but he enters the bout with it all to gain and little to lose.
Despite the vigour this once in a life time shot may induce in Szeremeta, he is an astute selection, strong but simple, slow of hand and he isn’t especially elusive. Golovkin should prevail in the middle rounds having punished those openings. If he doesn’t? Well he is 39 in April, and old father time caught up with better fighters even than Gennady.
Even Bernard, even Archie, even George. He got them all in the end.