After a night of two kings, Gennady Golovkin reigns supreme
It might be time to revise those pound-for-pound lists.
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez put on a beautiful display of quick-flick boxing, pummeling overmatched Brian Viloria on Saturday to retain his flyweight title.
But it’s time to place knockout artist Gennady Golovkin, who simply tortured David Lemieux for eight rounds on the same card, in the top spot, supplanting Gonzalez and others who may be ahead of him.
Golovkin (34-0, 31 knockouts) is simply too good and too dominant to deny his rightful place atop the list any longer.
In another display of power-boxing, Golovkin stopped his 21st straight opponent Saturday at Madison Square Garden in a middleweight title unification fight for the WBA and IBF titles before an announced sellout crowd of 20,548 in his first foray on HBO pay-per-view.
Golovkin, who had met presidential candidate Donald Trump earlier in the evening, stalked his opponent, chopping him down like a piece of wood until the power-punching Lemieux (34-3, 31 knockouts) was but a splinter.
It was another scintillating, crowd-pleasing and ascendant performance.
In the wake of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s stated retirement last month, Gonzalez (44-0, 38 knockouts) vaulted to the top of many pound-for-pound lists, including THE RING’s.
Meanwhile, Golovkin earned the fourth spot on THE RING’s list and close to the top of many others.
The card at Madison Square Garden provided a unique opportunity to witness two of the top fighters in the sport in Gonzalez, who fought in the co-feature, and Golovkin in the main.
Gonzalez was magnificent, showcasing his brilliance against a former two-division world champion.
He unfurled six-punch combinations as if he was working the heavy bag in stopping Viloria at 2:53 of the ninth after dropping him in the third.
But there’s something to be said of Golovkin’s hell-bent focus to destroy his opponent, putting himself in harm’s way to land a devastating shot.
Golovkin doesn’t lose rounds. He has a granite chin and doesn’t get hurt. And he’s fixated on terminating his opponent, no matter the level of competition. He does so in patient, methodical and devastation fashion, unleashing an arsenal of punches.
That to me is sufficient enough to put him at the head of the list of pound-for-pound candidates.
“There’s a lot of speculation of these pound-for-pound lists,” said Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler. “When you can dominate a champion like Lemieux (you make your case). But Gennady has that style and he clearly wanted to put on a show and was willing to exchange with Lemieux. This is by far the most significant fight of his career. It’s his first unification fight. It has all the ingredients. It’s the first pay-per-view fight and having 20,000 fans in the audience shows what he can do.”
Golovkin, who is close to signing an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand, is the mandatory challenger for the winner of Miguel Cotto’s WBC middleweight title fight with Canelo Alvarez on Nov. 21 on HBO pay-per-view.
But there is still the question of whether Cotto or Alvarez would venture to face Golovkin, knowing the type of pain they would have to endure in the course of the fight.
Loeffler knows if Saturday’s show delivers strong PPV numbers, it may entice a marquee fighter such as Cotto or Alvarez into the ring since they would be compensated for their agony.
“If the pay-per-view numbers are financially successful it gives us more options,” Loeffler said. “Anything above 200,000 buys (for Saturday’s card) would be considered a financial success. Gennady’s style hasn’t changed but his marketability has gone up. Whoever faces Gennady will be financially rewarded, which was not the case when he first fought in the U.S.”
Loeffler, who handles the U.S. promotions for Gonzalez, said he would have an idea of what those preliminary PPV numbers are on Monday.
For now, he was grinning at what he had just seen, happy he was promoting perhaps the top two boxers in the sport. His words indicated who he believes is at the head of the list.
“With his success tonight, there’s no question that Gennady is at the top of the sport,” Loeffler said.
Golovkin took charge from the opening bell, using his considerable reach to land a piston-like jab that kept Lemieux off balance. Golovkin, usually a slow starter, started to open up on Lemieux, landing a roundhouse right that stunned Lemieux midway through the first.
Golovkin wobbled Lemieux with a right hand in the second and landed another clubbing shot behind the head, strands on Lemieux’s mohawk flop-cut flying everywhere. Lemieux was in full retreat mode, his face reddened from punishment.
Golovkin dropped Lemieux with a left to the body in the fifth and then landed a few more shots while Lemieux was down for good measure. Referee Steve Willis warned Golovkin for his sin.
With 1:54 left in the seventh, Willis stopped the action and had a ringside physician look at Lemieux’s bleeding nose. He allowed the fight to continue, but Willis had a pained expression on his face for the rest of the round as Lemieux continued to absorb a barrage of punishment. Several times the referee seemed close to stopping it.
Finally, in the eighth, Willis had seen enough and he stopped the fight at the 1:32 mark as Lemieux sagged against the ropes with Golovkin preparing for another assault.
“I want all the belts, now I have two. The winner of Cotto-Canelo for sure,” Golovkin said in the ring afterward. “I’m not sure who will win that fight, but I want to fight the winner next. I’m staying at 160 until I have all the belts.”
Gonzalez showcased his skills in the co-feature, more than proving he deserves to be second on the pound-for-pound lists.
He dropped Viloria with a right cross in the third round. Though Viloria rose quickly, he was hurt and Gonzalez quickly pounced, teeing off on him, unleashing a multitude of pretty combinations, to the body, to the head, slicing uppercuts, a look of grave concern on Viloria’s face.
Gonzalez continued to pummel Viloria in the fourth and fifth, pushing him to the ropes with loud, flush shots. Gonzalez’s punches sounded like a man thumping on a bass drum.
Gonzalez took a long stare at Viloria as the fifth round ended, as if he was the referee looking to see if the bout should continue.
There were many instances when Viloria looked overwhelmed by the volume of punches from Gonzalez, confused as if he was wondering if Gonzalez possessed a third arm.
Finally, referee Benjy Esteves stopped the fight at 2:53 of the ninth.
What followed was one of those sacred moments that only boxing can offer. Gonzalez rested his glove on Viloria’s head in an act of endearment for a couple moments before they embraced.
The fans cheered a wonderful evening.