Gennady “GGG” Golovkin could break Bernard Hopkins’ record for the most middleweight boxing title defenses ever on Friday, as he tries to defend a belt for the 21st time against mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida.
Golovkin currently holds the IBF and IBO middleweight titles. He has 20 career middleweight title defenses, and comes into Friday’s bout heavily favored to take the record.
Record Opportunity Motivates GGG
PointsBet lists Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) as a massive -3334 favorite over Szeremeta (+1000) in a fight that contains plenty of unknowns, even if oddsmakers think the result is all but a foregone conclusion.
Weigh-in done. ✅
Tomorrow, we get the 𝘽𝙞𝙜 𝘿𝙧𝙖𝙢𝙖 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙬. 💥 pic.twitter.com/KfcruX3kdw
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) December 17, 2020
At 38 years old, Golovkin has reached the post-prime phase of his career. That doesn’t mean he’s not potentially the best middleweight on the planet, nor that he’s ripe for an upset. But it could mean that time is running out for GGG to book major fights, like a third bout against Canelo Alvarez.
For now, Golovkin will settle for chasing a legendary record.
“It’s very exciting for any athlete to set a new record, whether it’s the 21st defense or any other record, the fact you’re setting a record is pleasing to me,” Golovkin told reporters.
Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs) stands in his way. The 31-year-old Polish fighter comes in undefeated, though he hasn’t been tested at an elite level. BoxRec ranks him as the No. 23 middleweight in the world, with no particularly notable opponents on his record. Golovkin ranks second, behind only Alvarez.
Szeremeta Untested, But Sees Upset Opportunity
Nobody can completely dismiss an undefeated fighter: after all, until someone beats Szeremeta, it’s hard to say precisely what his ceiling is. But his low knockout rate against subpar competition makes it hard to believe he’ll rise to GGG’s standard on Friday.
Still, Szeremeta has projected confidence, and pointed to Golovkin’s age as a potential factor.
“You cannot defeat time, we know that,” Szeremeta told reporters. “We know his prime is behind him and I’m walking into my prime right now. He is still an extremely dangerous fighter and I need to remember this all the time.”
As a massive favorite, Golovkin may need a convincing victory to meet expectations, let alone exceed them, especially with his history of spectacular knockouts. But trainer Johnathon Banks says GGG doesn’t have to go crazy to get a finish on Friday.
“I love knockouts, but there is more than one way to get one,” Banks said, via Yahoo Sports. “Gennady worked hard on combining boxing, punching, and rhythm in training camp, and he looks tremendous. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, speed and power, that is what we worked on a lot in camp.”
Regardless of his approach, Golovkin promises that his fans will get to see a show on Friday.
“I do take this seriously. I train for this specific reason. I do believe that people will want a ‘Big Drama Show,’” Golovkin said at his Wednesday press conference. “I had a lot of time to get ready for this. We will see the best Gennady Golovkin.”