NEW YORK -- After another thrilling middleweight title defense for unbeaten Gennady Golovkin ends in -- what else? -- another devastating knockout, here are five things we learned from his triumph over Daniel Geale on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
1. Golovkin is everything we thought he was (and more)
The only conceivable knock against Golovkin throughout his devastating run of 10 straight title defenses and 16 consecutive knockouts entering Saturday’s bout was a lack of proof he could do the same thing against elite competition.
Enter former titlist Geale of Australia, a volume puncher with a backbone who, along with being awkward, has showed a history of versatility as both a boxer and puncher.
Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) didn’t just answer the questions his few remaining critics had about him, he punched a hole in them the same way he did to Geale in a pulverizing third-round TKO.
Few of Golovkin’s fights have failed to entertain or provide at least one shake-your-head moment of surprise. His finish of Geale fit that category completely as Golovkin ate his opponent’s best shot flush on the chin and followed through simultaneously on a heinous counter right hand that floored Geale and led to his exit.
With a frightening level of poise and craft to match his other-worldly power, Golovkin isn’t just the class of the middleweight division (Geale’s promoter, Gary Shaw, called Golovin the best 160-pounder he has ever seen after the fight); he has stamped his spot among the sport’s pound-for-pound best.
The only remaining question about Golovkin, who hasn’t seen a fight go the distance since 2008, is simple: Who is going to be able to stand up to that kind of heat?
2. GGG’s becoming a big draw, too
Along with being such a dangerous opponent due to his power and amateur pedigree, a major reason Golovkin was one of boxing’s most avoided fighters was due to his small fan base in America.
The tide, however, is beginning to turn in a big way, as evidenced by Golovkin's drawing an attendance of 8,572 for his first appearance at the big arena at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin’s star is growing quickly due to the combination of his aggressive style, humble demeanor and boyish charm. He’s also taking to English at a much more rapid pace and is willing to fight anyone over the span of three different weight classes, which is almost unheard of for an elite fighter.
But what separates Golovkin from just about any other fighter with crossover potential is the game-changing power he possesses in both hands. GGG’s power is not only the great equalizer in the ring, it’s the unquestioned key to the hearts of the casual fan.
And that’s where the true money is in the sport.
3. Don’t hold your breath on a middleweight summit
By virtue of his June stoppage over longtime lineal champion Sergio Martinez in the same building as Golovkin’s 11th straight title defense on Saturday, Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto grabbed the mantle as the division’s king.
But that doesn’t mean most would regard Cotto as the best middleweight in the world. And as optimistic as fans might want to be regarding a potential showdown between the division’s top two fighters to close 2014, the smart money would be against holding out too much hope.
While Cotto-Golovkin would be one of the biggest fights you could make in the sport, and in some ways, a crossroads meeting between MSG’s highest-profile tenants, logic would likely lead Cotto toward more lucrative -- and less dangerous -- options.
There was some thought that if Golovkin looked relatively human against Geale it might help him draw a big opponent. Instead he looked like a superhero.
Cotto’s history of daring to be great and taking on the toughest challenges available might be enough for some to hold out partial hope. But Cotto’s status as a promotional free agent allow him too much flexibility to make the richest fight available to him.
As much as a middleweight summit against Golovkin makes a ton of sense, a fight with Mexican star Canelo Alvarez, for example, makes a lot more cents (and many more dollars) for Cotto. And money always talks.
4. Jennings-Perez fails to impress
With a mandatory heavyweight title shot at stake and the opportunity for the winner to announce himself as the next big thing in the division, the co-main event between unbeaten Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez had tremendous potential for an all-action affair.
But the fight failed to live up to expectations -- both in terms of entertainment, and in the sense that neither fighter came out of it with their stock elevated thanks to how the fight played out.
Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) claimed a split-decision victory thanks in part to a 12th-round point deduction against Perez for hitting on the break by referee Harvey Dock. Without the deduction, the fight would have been a draw.
Perez (20-1-1, 12 KOs), a native of Cuba who fights out of Ireland, saw most of his success countering Jennings in the early rounds go to waste thanks to poor conditioning (he weighed in 11 pounds heavier than his last fight in January).
What Perez’s late fade also did was lower the shine on Jennings’ comeback over the second half of the fight, when he stepped up the pace considerably.
The victory puts Jennings in position to face the winner of a fall meeting between titlist Bermane Stiverne and unbeaten challenger Deontay Wilder. Yet the fight failed in its purpose of giving fans of the often dormant division something to be excited over.
5. New York is back
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when New York City, and specifically The Garden, was the center of the universe for big-time boxing
And even though the majority of major fights still consistently finds a comfortable home at the major casinos in Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps is making a noted comeback.
Cotto saw his brand rejuvenated with his victory over Martinez and Golovkin has made an effort to follow in his footsteps by becoming a house fighter at MSG. But the emergence of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn has also helped New York grab a strong run of high-profile fights over the past two years.
Attending a major fight in Las Vegas is an experience unto itself. But nothing quite compares to the buzz in the streets before and after a blockbuster fight in the Big Apple.