Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) and Steve Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) will battle Saturday night in a super middleweight fight to be contested at a catchweight of 164 pounds at Madison Square Garden in New York City, live on DAZN.
A New Chapter
This should be an exciting fight for GGG as it marks his debut under new trainer Jonathon Banks after parting ways with long-term trainer Abel Sanchez back in April.
The now 37-year old Kazakhstan has only spent a mere five weeks under the tutelage of the former guide to Wladimir Klitschko so it’s hard to tell what new tricks he’s been taught (if any).
However, we do know that he is coming off a narrow decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in their rematch eight months ago. Once again, many fight fans felt he did enough to get the nod against the Mexican superstar but Alvarez likely won over the judges with his aggression. We also know that Gennady did not go to the body as often against Alvarez and was probably deterred by his opponent’s counter-punching ability.
Banks is a former cruiserweight and heavyweight contender himself, but he is perhaps better known as a former apprentice of legendary trainer Emanuel Steward. In recent years, he has guided the careers of former unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko as well as female welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus.
Golovkin expressed confidence in his new trainer at a May news conference at the MGM Grand just hours before rival Canelo Alvarez squared off against Daniel Jacobs in a unification fight at the T-Mobile Arena.
“I want to build on what I have already achieved and continue to improve as a boxer,” Golovkin said. “Jonathon is teaching me new skills that will help me reach those goals. I believe in Jonathon’s teaching methods.”
Whether those new-found skills translate on fight night remains to be seen.
Who is Steve Rolls?
So most casual and certainly hard-core boxing fans know GGG but just who is his obscure opponent taking on one of the best middleweights on the planet?
Well, Steve Rolls is largely unknown having fought the majority of his ring career in his native Canada and never faced top opponents. He got the ‘green light’ to face Golovkin after defeating KeAndrae Leatherwood by unanimous decision in December. The 35-year old has stopped four of his last seven opponents so he has some punching power.
Rolls has to be given a minimal chance of beating Golovkin evidenced by the fact that he comes in at +1200, meaning if you bet $100, you’d net $1,200. But an upset, no matter how unlikely, cannot be ruled out given Ruiz’s upset win over Joshua last Saturday.
That said, it’s hard to see any other outcome other than GGG dismantling Rolls and likely doing so in short order. No disrespect to Joshua but Gennady has one hell of a chin, the temperament of a fighter and other worldly power in both hands. If anything, Golovkin should be plenty motivated to prove that he still belongs among the sport’s elite and that switching trainers was not a mistake.
Three Keys to Victory
Training – Look for anything new resulting from Golovkin’s brief time with Banks. It’s hard to envision a former champion at this advanced stage of their career churning out an entire set of new skills and techniques. GGG is basically who he is and no trainer should be expected to make major changes at this point. However, Banks has learned from the best and knows boxing. He could be the fresh voice that GGG needs to bring out his absolute best, especially if he stalled after so many years under the guidance of Sanchez. Banks has said that he will emphasize Golovkin throwing more punches and being a more active fighter.
The Unknown – We just don’t know how good this Rolls guy might turn out to be in a fight where he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. That mixture, however, can make for the perfect cocktail for some fighters to rise to the occasion. I don’t think Rolls is that type of fighter in the same mold of an Andy Ruiz Jr so we should not get a repeat of last week’s shocker. He’s never been tested and there are no huge questions surrounding Golovkin to help swing the pendulum his direction.
Focus – Golovkin cannot get caught overlooking the man right in front of him as he ultimately angles for a third shot at Alvarez. Joshua’s recent meltdown is a cautionary tale in the flaws of that strategy. It should be an easy and rather quick night if the former unified champion keep his wits about him and just handles business Saturday night. I think Golovkin will want to get some rounds in coming off of a nearly 9-month layoff as well as showcase whatever new approaches he might have learned under Banks. This fight is more or less a test of the training and chemistry between the new trainer and former world champion.
I’ve been hinting at this fact throughout the article but this fight will not be a repeat of Joshua-Ruiz. GGG might not quite be the same fighter of old but he does not necessarily have to be in this bout. Rolls is simply not on the same level and I see nothing in his arsenal or past fights to seriously trouble GGG. His perfect ledger while impressive, is the only bright spot but was compiled against unremarkable competition. Still the Canadian must be respected if not for the simple fact that we simply don’t know what a fight of this magnitude will bring out in him. Expect Team Golovkin-Banks to get the job done come Saturday night with the Kazakhstan star going more to the body in a route.
Golovkin by knockout around the 6th or 7th round.