The two men will, in three days, attempt to bludgeon each other to the point that the less-fortunate would be rendered unable to continue in a middleweight fight scheduled for 12 rounds or less at Foxwoods in Connecticut on Saturday night.
The challenger, Matthew Macklin, an Anglo-Irishman getting his third crack at a world title, walked past the titlist, Gennady Golovkin (26-0 with 23 KOs), prior to the kickoff of the final press conference, which was held at Gallagher's steakhouse in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday. The IBO and WBA middleweight champ Golovkin, born in Kazhkstan, owns the highest KO percentage (88.4%) of any titlist, and has a rep as a certified badass. He was chatting with a writer, grinning broadly, and his grin didn't fade or diminish as Macklin strode by, headed to the upstairs conference room where the presser would unfold. Macklin wore a determined look, his eyes narrowed a bit, his visage reflecting, it looked to me, the gravity of his task on Saturday.
I cornered Macklin (29-4 with 20 KOs), a 31-year-old who now lives in the south of Spain, where he opened up a gym. Does he allow the possibility that his night could end violently, abruptly, with himself staring up at the lights? "Not really," he said. "Going in, that's a possibility, in any fight. But I have a solid chin. And the guys he's knocked out, I would have knocked them out too. I'm not overly concerned."
But neither is he hopelessly deluded or excessively, unconvincingly optimistic. "There are a lot of questions, and we don't really know the answers until we get in there," he said. You can watch on HBO if you are not attending.
The 31-year-old Golovkin is one of the "new bombers," along with Lucas Matthysse, and to a lesser degree, Marcos Maidana, Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev, who are building reps as being those sort of guys who keep you glued to your sofa, rather than taking a chance on heading to the fridge while their fight is on.
The favorite is still working on his English and basically just predicted, during his time at the mic, that it would be a good fight. His trainer, Abel Sanchez, took it a step further. "I don't think it's going past the fifth round," he told me. "I don't know if Matt's trainer ends it or he is knocked out. But Gennady's too strong."
Macklin's promoter, New York's Lou DiBella, said not so fast. "Matt's not going to be scared Saturday," he said. "Gennady is going to have to walk through fire. It's going to be the hardest fight of his career."
Later, as we walked out, he told me he doesn't think one of the questions Macklin referenced is Golovkin's talent. "I'm sold on him," Dibella said; he'd told the assembled that his guy would leave the building with the belts, but he's been doing this long enough to know that we just don't know, until we do: "I think someone is going to get knocked out and I'm not sure who," he said, in summation.