SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

GGG scores violent KO in return to ring

Photo by Amanda Westcott/courtesy of DAZN

Former unified middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin made his return to the ring Saturday in New York, and showed the rest of the division that he is still a force to be reckoned with. Golovkin knocked out Steve Rolls in the fourth round of a non-title bout to end his nine month layoff away from the sport.

It was a vintage Golovkin performance in many ways. The 37-year old Kazakhstan native spent much of the first two rounds feeling out the relative unknown Rolls, who attempted to jump on Golovkin in round two with several flurries of punches. Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KO) turned up the pressure in round three, cutting off the ring and using his signature stalking style to control the pace of action. By round four Golovkin made his move. He landed a looping shot to the head, which badly hurt Rolls (19-1, 10 KO.) Then Golovkin pounced. Rolls tried to tie up Golovkin, but Golovkin refused to accept a clinch, continuing to apply pressure. Golovkin then landed a left hook to the jaw of Rolls which sent him to the canvas in violent fashion. Rolls went down face-first, and was unable to beat the referee's count.

It was the first fight under new trainer Jonathan Banks for Golovkin, who previously spent his entire North American career under the tutelage of Abel Sanchez. Golovkin didn't appear to make any major tactical changes. He worked behind a stiff jab, stayed in the pocket and seemed content to trade getting hit for dishing out a harder blow. The trademark power, which made Golovkin the middleweight boogeyman for nearly a decade, seems to have gone nowhere.

In addition to a change it trainers the fight was also a new beginning in other ways for Golovkin. It was the first fight of his six-fight deal with streaming service DAZN. It was also the first time since August of 2010 that Golovkin fought without possessing one of the four major middleweight world title belts. Golovkin lost his belts to Canelo Alvarez in September, and as you can imagine Golovkin seemed interested in regaining them. He told DAZN's Chris Mannix after that he intended to have a third fight with Canelo as soon as September. Golovkin added that he hoped the third fight in the trilogy would take place in Madison Square Garden, saying it was his preferred place to fight.


SATURDAY IN RENO: VALDEZ ROUTS SANCHEZ TO RETAIN FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE

WBO champ Oscar Valdez turned in the most well-rounded performance of his career, cruising to a unanimous decision victory over challenger Jason Sanchez. Valdez (26-0, 20 KO,) who made his name as a brawler, looked to be greatly improved defensively as he used superior head movement to inflict punishment to Sanchez (14-1, 7 KO) while suffering little in return. Valdez won by scores of 117-110 and 118-109 (twice.) SportsMap.com scored the fight a 120-107 shutout for Valdez.

Valdez send Sanchez to the canvas via a flash knockdown in round five. Following the knockdown Valdez continued to counter Sanchez, and repeatedly baited him into leaving his head open for Valdez's long looping hooks, which he landed at will.

By round seven Sanchez realized his best shot was to try to turn the fight into an old-school brawl, something a younger version of Valdez would have welcomed. But he didn't take the bait; As Sanchez attempted to take the fight to the inside Valdez stuck to using his jab and fighting off his back foot.

The fight was the second for Valdez under new trainer Eddy Reynoso, who is best known of training middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. Reynoso appears to have been instrumental in the remaking of Valdez' fighting style for the better. Following the victory Valdez said he was undecided as to if he would fight at featherweight again or move up to the 130 lb. weight class.

Score one for the fat guys! That was an Instagram post I made Sunday morning pertaining to Andy Ruiz Jr's upset knockout of heavyweight boxing champ Anthony Joshua. I watched a replay and highlights of the fight late Saturday night/wee hours Sunday morning.This was considered the third biggest upset in boxing history behind Hasim Rahman over Lennox Lewis and Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson. We love a good upset. Especially when the guy doing the upsetting kind of looks like one of us common folk.

One look at Ruiz and I guarantee you there were guys who immediately thought "if he can be the heavyweight champ, I can probably do the same thing!" Please, don't be THAT guy. Ruiz is a professional boxer who had a 33-1 record entering into this fight with Joshua. Whether he fought and beat 33 tomato cans, broom sticks, or some version of a weak opponent in those wins, he's still a pro boxer. There are several factors that go into the anatomy of an upset in my opinion, so let's take a look at them:

Perception

Perception heading into a matchup is a huge contributing factor. In this case, people looked at Ruiz and thought he looked like a Walmart greeter, a bus driver, a taco truck owner, etc. As spectators, we often look at guys' appearances. The first guy off the bus is a real thing. When you're a physical specimen, you attract more attention. People are drawn to the physically imposing figures that look like they're chiseled from granite as opposed to the Average Joes that look more like them because the former reminds them of a superhero and the latter reminds them of themselves.

Odds

The odds-makers have a huge part in upsets. They often set the betting odds in which upsets are named by because we have no other true measuring stick to judge them. Vegas isn't stupid. They set the odds in order to drive betting so they make money. So when you see a team or player or fighter is favored, please believe it's by design and through research. Casinos and bookmakers are in business for a reason.

Previous history

Previous history, or track record, is based upon the records of opponents coming into an event. Perception and odds also play a factor into this. For example, the 2003-04 Pistons finished two games better than the Lakers. The Pistons franchise had only won two NBA titles previously (back to back in the late 80s/early 90s), whereas the Lakers had 14 titles to that point and recently reeled off a three-peat a few years earlier. Given that the Lakers had Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, it was thought they'd run away with another title. The Pistons not only won the series, they beat the vaunted Lakers 4-1.

Superiority complex

When the perception that one team or athlete is so much better than their opponent, the odds are in their favor, and history says that team or athlete will most likely win, they can have an inflated sense of self. Taking an opponent likely or not seriously enough can lower a team or player's guard. This is a recipe for disaster. The 2001 Rams thought a backup quarterback couldn't beat "The Greatest Show on Turf." Little did we know that Super Bowl win by Tom Brady and the Patriots would give birth to a dynasty.

Disadvantages

There are also times in which an opponent is at a decided disadvantage. In college sports, one team may have a bigger budget in order to recruit, train, house, and even feed better players. Having better coaches and accommodations will give one team or player an advantage. Maybe there's a health issue involved. UCLA women's softball player Stevie Wisz has lived with a heart condition and put off surgery until after the Women's College World Series. Whatever the disadvantages are, they can often lead one team/player to believe they'll undoubtedly win, while stacking the odds heavily against said team/player's opponent.

Upsets are what gives us hope in sports. They're the improbable wins in which fan bases place their faith until they either win, or get their hopes crushed. We all love a good upset. The NCAA basketball tournament has shown us that an upset can galvanize a group of fans and onlookers into supporting the unlikely hero. Who doesn't enjoy the underdog beating the overwhelming favorite? No one likes the favorite who always wins. Sure, a dynasty is greatness to be admired, but the one who knocks off said dynasty will be celebrated just as much if not more. Once again, here's to all my fellow fat guys out there. Let's forego the gym and healthy food in favor of tacos and television in hopes of becoming the next Andy Ruiz Jr.

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