‘Cause I’m the unknown stuntman
Who made Eastwood look so fineLee Majors, Unknown Stuntman, 1984
Kamil Szeremata performed admirably last night. He got up. He got up again. He hung tough. He didn’t deviate from the mandatory script. The one he tried not to read. The lines he had were simple enough to learn, they’d been spoken before by others like him across a thousand shows in a hundred countries.
Remain in character. Be obscure. Stay still. Hit your cue. But, crucially, get knocked out.
He wanted to improvise. Wanted to be the leading man. Get the girl. He will have spent the night before knowing his role but wondering, “Co jesli?“. ‘What if he can land the big hook? What if Golovkin really has aged? Do I have to be someone else’s fall guy?’
But when sharing a stage with Gennady Golovkin you have to take the crumbs he leaves. Szeremata wasn’t chosen to steal the plaudits or challenge the veteran Khazak’s boxing chops. Just be there. On weight. Fit. Look serious. Be the opponent.
IBF mandatories aren’t selected to knock the champion of. They’d designed to get the IBF paid, keep the title’s story rolling and preserve the relationship between the attraction and the belt. It is creditable, notionally at least, that the governing body insist upon them. Requiring of their champions a degree of respect for their ratings. After all, it may be imperfect, but at least the insistence is constant, unwavering.
For now, for Golovkin at least, it provide the perfect opponent for him to return from a long period of inactivity without the risk he discovered when nudging past Ukranian Sergiy Derevyanchenko a year ago. As with all opponents champions encounter from the top of the IBF rankings, however weak their resume, the mandatory defence for a mandatory defence is; “it was a mandatory defence”. It is a flimsy rebuttal to the criticism that inevitably follows, but it is also the truth.
Post fight, talk immediately turned to a trilogy fight with Saul Alvarez. There appears reluctance from both parties to vest too much in that possibility. Their reasons different but tangible nevertheless.
Szeremeta will return to relative anonymity. Pride in tact. Bank balance enhanced. Hopefully, despite the prolonged beating he took with little prospect of winning, undamaged. There will be other fights, other roles. He will likely never share the stage with someone of Golovkin’s distinction again but it doesn’t mean his career is over. ‘Former World title challenger’ is a part he can look forward to filling and it may offer a little more scope for critical acclaim than IBF mandatory did.
By staying in there for 7 rounds, and it took guts to do so because Golovkin clearly still punches hard, Szeremeta ensured the casting calls will still come, the phone will still ring.