A new man has emerged to become the superstar face of boxing... it's Gennady Golovkin. The sensational Middleweight champion from Kazakhstan performed his scientific artistry last night at Madison Square Garden, with a stunning third-round knockout of respected former champion Daniel Geale of Australia.
Geale told the media - and Golovkin - before the fight at the final press conference he was going "try to fight the best that I can." It was not the most confident of messages to send to your heavily favored opponent but Geale did try his best. It just wasn't nearly enough.
The smiling Golovkin entered the ring to a thumping rock anthem which gave the Garden a major jolt of excitement. GGG's ring entrace ranks as one of the best I've ever seen.
Geale seemed very uncomfortable through the introductions, doing a repeated mouth snarl, but it seemed to be an attempt to pump himself up, and a disguise for his true emotions.
Before the fight, Golovkin just stands there, eyes looking around passively, like a man waiting for a bus, not a veteran assassin about to destroy a pugilistic dream. Golovkin has a certain glow about him. And his eyes seem superhuman, big, wide, shiny, as if they can see so much more than an ordinary eye.
Then the bell rings and Golovkin transforms into a fighting machine. Every move, every step, every punch choice seems exactly the right one. It's just a matter of time before the bomb is delivered to the elusive target.
The end comes in the third round. Geale, who was cut and floored in the second round, is using his best defensive skills to avoid the inevitable. Against the ropes, in danger again - remember the old boxing maxim: the wounded animal is the most dangerous - Geale actually lands a pretty good right which bounces Golovkin's head. But Golovkin doesn't seem to feel it at all. He saw his opening and his Cobra-like counter right ended the competition, in the blink of an eye. Geale was able to beat the count but he was on wobbly legs and nodded slightly to referee Mike Ortega that he didn't want to continue. It was a wise decision. There was no man alive who was going to defeat Golovkin on this night.
The crowd of around 9,000 was thrilled by what they had witnessed, transforming the historic arena into a roaring frenzy like only champions like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Felix Trinidad, Roy Jones and Miguel Cotto could do. Boxing greatness may not always be obvious, but Golovkin's greatness certainly is.
"I was happy with my performance. I want Cotto," declared the 32-year-old whose record now stands at 30-0 (27 KO's). Geale dropped to 30-3.
The Top Rank/Cotto delegation observed Golovkin's masterpiece but it's not expected that Cotto and his braintrust will accept the challenge made by Golovkin, because there may be safer and more lucrative options, such as Canelo Alvarez or maybe even a Mayweather rematch.
* WBC Heavyweight Eliminator Perez vs. Jennings *
Cuban Mike Perez seemed to get the best of American Bryant Jennings, but the judges awarded a close split decision to Jennings. It appeared Perez hurt Jennings in the first round with a body shot and the unbeaten Philadelphian seemed to backpedal cautiously for most of the rest of the fight.
Perez, age 28, started boxing at age 5 - 23 years ago - has far, far more experience than 29-year-old Jennings, who has been boxing for just five years. The vast epxerience advantage showed in the fight, as Perez was very comfortable and in control, often smiling and laughing and even blowing kisses at most of Jennings best offensive thrusts. Jennings, stoic and concerned through the entire fight, always seemed to be fighting uphill against the cocky, playful Perez.
Perez had a point deducted by the ref Harvey Dock, in the last round for an intentional foul hit on the break. That point seemed to be crucial, as Jennings won the bout by a single point on the scorecards of Tom Schreck and Glen Feldman. Joe Pasquale had it for Perez by three points.
Perez disputed the decision by quickly exiting the ring with his team, before the HBO interviews. "I clearly won the fight. The ref stole the fight from me. I did whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it," he would say later.
Jennings had a different view, of course. "He wouldn't trade. I wanted him to stand in there and fight. I was expecting the inside pressure from Mike Perez and that wasn't the Mike Perez that showed up."
The PunchStats revealed that Jennings landed more blows than Perez (l49 out of 5l3, compared to ll6 to 57l). But those numbers seemed to contradict what I saw from ringside. It was a good fight but Perez looked superior and in charge about 90% of the time, from my point of view.
Jennings, promoted by Gary Shaw and James Prince, is now in line to face the winner of the still unscheduled WBC Heavyweight showdown between champion Bermane Stiverne and mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder, probably early next year.