Andre Ward v.s. Gennady Golovkin – A Technical Breakdown
Gennady Golovkin has laid waste to the talent at Middleweight relying on his devastating power and fantastic ring generalship. Andre Ward has done much the same at Super Middleweight but relying on his footwork and tactics as opposed to raw power. Both fighters extremely gifted, albeit in different aspects… What happens if we throw them in the ring together? I will do my best and attempt to break each fighter down in a few core aspects of the sweet science.
PSA: This will not go into great technical detail as I wish to remain as objective as possible to let you derive your own conclusions. Lets get started.
Ward has excellent footwork, probably amongst the best in the ring right now. With it he is able to derive a massive tactical advantage; it’s easily one of the top reasons for his success. Most will probably draw immediate comparisons to Floyd and his “running” style.
It’s important to see how calculated he is being, particularly against Rodriguez in the second gif. He is aware of where his feet are in the ring and where they are placed in relation to his opponent. In both examples he moves squared with the other fighter. Doing so allows him to throw on the move, or to rapidly switch directions.
GGG does not have the same calculated caliber of footwork as Ward, but he is far better at cutting of the ring. In fact, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say Gennady is the best active fighter at doing so. He owns the ring
It does not seem to matter where his opponent is going; GGG simply ends up in front of them. As an opponent you end up fighting where Golovkin allows you to fight. Against Rosado (first gif) you can see the big angular steps GGG takes in order to keep Rosado locked into a small portion of the ring. This is a textbook example of ‘cutting off the ring’ GGG eliminates the direction Rosado is able to move by placing himself in the way.
Given both fighters are exceptional at ring movement it’s really hard to say who wins the ring spacing battle. I don’t think Ward can hold ground with footwork alone. He will have to take away the relentless forward movement from GGG.
GGG has the highest amount of average jabs landed per round of all the fighters tracked by compubox. If you have ever seen him throw one of these jabs, you know that they are comprable to many fighters powerpunches. Golovkin throws the jab frequently and effectively. He upsets his opponents’ rhythm, negates attempts at distance and generally just disrupts the game plan altogether.
Golovkin uses it to move in and out and side to side… Really he just throws it damn near constantly; always with the chance to have someone seeing stars. Andre Ward, much like any fighter, has been thrown for a loop catching a saucy jab so we know that GGG can come in here and demand respect with one.
I don’t think Ward will have a problem with the jab once he figures it out, but it is nonetheless a very devastating blow that Gennady throws almost endlessly.
That being said, Ward throws a pretty nasty jab himself. He does not throw it as frequently as Golovkin does, but he typically connects it flush.
Where Ward’s jab really gets some serious jam behind his jab when he leads with the right first or tricks you to throw with a feint. This is a prime example of the tactical prowess of Ward; punches rarely if ever come alone. Double jab, body/head, Ward gets crafty with it.
GGG is particularly susceptible to this type of combo throwing because he really lacks smart head movement. He tends to pull straight back with zero head movement. He is used to working angles and when he doesn’t he tends to get caught with punches right down the pipe.
Both fighters would immediately try to establish the jab. GGG lands more often; Ward lands more effectively.
Ward has a rather impressive defense. His signature is bending at the waist; and although not typically a great defense, Ward seems to have it mastered quite well.
Sure looks like it works? Well, most times it does, until you get caught with an uppercut. Rolling bent like that drastically increases your surface area that an uppercut can connect on. Really it is not a matter of if as it is a matter of when.
As we know, Gennady lays a vicious beat down on the body if given the opportunity. Getting low at the waist is a great way to get yourself an uppercut from GGG
The one thing Ward must absolutely be on the lookout for is the left hook to the body as he moves lateraly. Gennady, if given the opportunity to land this punch cleanly has a very real possibility of ending the fight.
Movement at the waist tends to leave you open for a body shot and is something Ward will need to absolutely dial in; he cannot be bent, blindly dodging high punches. Ward will need to ensure he has eyes on Golovkins left at all times or possibly pay with his perfect record.
Gennady has an average defense at best; not much else to say. He really only utilizes upper body movement and could very greatly benefit from some head movement. As a result, his defense is susceptible to exploitation especially during combination punches or when on the inside.
Here is what Andre can do if you don’t move your head on a consistent basis. He is a wizard when it comes to tricky punches and combinations.
Ward’s defense will not stop GGG from connecting leather, but I think it could take some meat away that GGG is used to heavily relying on. Golovkin would really get a test of chin from Ward, he simply does not move his head enough and Ward will make you pay for it every time.
Both fighters will do their absolute damnedest to establish their dominance on the mid-outside. In addition to their jabs outside, both GGG and Ward posses a nasty right hand. GGG throws an overhand and Ward throws a straight.
Mid-range, we get into a very diverse territory for both fighters. Ward does not have a distinctive style mid-range and often times gets caught moving in. For him, this is a transition phase, moving to the outside or moving inside. He does not look particularly sharp mid-range.
Middle ranges are where Gennady really shines; mid-range is his murder zone. You do not want to be in the ring with GGG at this distance as he is in control of way too much. His ring generalship, fast punches and power will all coalesce and really bring the hurt.
On the inside, Golovkin seems to struggle. If he is forced to do so, he pushes off or steps back in order to create space. Rarely will you see him throw an effective punch while shoulder to shoulder. He just does not look comfortable at this range.
Ward works the inside well. He tends to manhandle oppoents close range holding with one hand and going to work with the other. It’s not pretty, but for Ward it has proven highly effective.
I see this inside game bothering Golovkin quite a bit. He simply does not look natural inside and I think he could be handled by Ward. However, Ward must obviously get inside somehow… That means entering mid-range territory where one wrong move will have you snacking on GGGs leather.
I think Ward makes this an ugly fight and takes it on the cards. He takes a beating and easily has the toughest fight of his career but his tactician style can lower Golovkins output enough to take a card win. I don’t see it being particularly entertaining, as Ward can tend to clinch much like Floyd, but I think he is a superior boxer to GGG and can stifle his gameplan just enough to keep himself upright for twelve rounds.
Having said that, I don’t think we’ve seen GGG preform at his absolute best and honestly can’t extrapolate what that might entail. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that GGG is an even better fighter than we have seen; my heart has no trouble accepting this. Either way it pans out, I see it being a great test for both fighters and a great match for boxing.