Ivan Drago was Rocky Balboa's nemesis in the fourth installment of the Rocky films. Hailing from the Soviet Union, the Olympic gold medalist amassed a 100-1 record with every single one of those wins coming by way of knockout. His wicked punching power debilitated his opponents and was the talk of the fictional boxing world. Sure, he goes on to lose to Rocky but punches the title character's best friend, Apollo Creed, to death in a memorable scene that was shocking in a sports film from the '80s. The 90-minute film helped Dolph Lundren's character become one of the most memorable villains of the '80s. Today, Drago is a staple in pop culture and even has a band named after one of his catchphrases in the movie (If He Dies He Dies).
Gennady Golovkin may not be cast as the villain in the boxing world who utters one-liners like "I must break you", nor does he have a supermodel by his side in Brigitte Nielsen (Sorry Abel Sanchez), but the Kazakh fighter has some striking similarities to Drago that could help the Eastern European boxer make the biggest splash in the United States since the fictional Drago. His latest annihilation of Curtis Stevens being yet another step towards becoming one of boxing's biggest stars.
Like Drago, Golovkin possesses otherworldly power that has seen him stop all but three opponents before the final bell. When hit, his foes are unable to keep a straight face. In the second round, a Golovkin left hook sent Stevens crashing to the canvas. But it wasn't the punch that viewers paid attention to, it was the wide eyed look that Stevens gave while down that explained that he was caught completely off guard by the menacing power Golovkin has in his hands. It was downright scary. And from that point on, Stevens fought like a man who really didn't want any parts of the fight. He was still brave, but far more reserved after tasting the power of Golovkin.
But what makes Golovkin more than a one-dimensional knockout artist is the fact that he is a technically sound boxer with the credentials to prove it. As an amateur, Golovkin had an outstanding career that ended with a record of 345-5 and a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic games. No, he didn't knock out all of his opponents like the fictional Drago, but his power did surface when he flattened Lucian Bute at the 2003 World Championships in Bankok. The skill set carried over into his professional career but with it came heavier hands that were enthralled to connect on the skulls of opponents with no headgear.
Today, Golovkin carries a record of 28-0 (25 KOs) and has never once tasted the canvas.
And that's where the similarities between he and Drago end.
Unlike the 6'8" Drago, the 5'11" Golovkin has boyish good looks and replaces Drago's evil gaze with a pleasant grin. His navigation of the English language - along with German, Russian and Kazakh - allows him the ability to say more than "I defeat all man" or have his trainer Abel Sanchez play the role of Ludmilla Vorbet Drago and constantly speak on his behalf. His smile is infectious and his conversation is welcoming, which makes him easy to like. There are no boos from a crowd that view him as a foreign villain looking to crush American boxers to dust. Honestly, one look at Golovkin would have you question if this is the guy everyone is scared of. However, all those pleasantries go out the window once the bell rings. That is when GGG becomes a savage with superhuman strength. Between the ropes, there are no friends, only victims. Once he dispatches of his opponent, Golovkin is all smiles again.
With a trail of discarded boxers in his wake, Golovkin has become the darling of the boxing world. Social media is constantly being littered with hypothetical matchups for Golovkin that range from Andre Ward to Floyd Mayweather. And if you ask Golovkin, he'd be glad to fight anybody willing to step into the ring with him.
Who Golovkin fights next is anyone's guess. He'd love to fight Sergio Martinez next but the lineal middleweight champion is coming off of knee surgery. Not to mention that his promoter Lou DiBella has made it clear that he has no intention of making that fight. He'd like to fight Andre Ward or Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. but it doesn't seem like either fighter is leaping at the opportunity.
He'll fight again on February 1 in Monte Carlo against an opponent that has yet to be named, which will probably be yet another exhibition that raises eyebrows. Sooner or later, boxing's top names will not be able to avoid GGG and we'll really get to see if somebody can play Rocky to Golovkin's smiling Drago. Until then, we'll just enjoy the ride.
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets, including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others.You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Sports & Recreation
- Ivan Drago
- Gennady Golovkin
- Rocky Balboa