Last night I went to the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY to watch the American debut of WBA world middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs) of Kazakhstan. By the time I started my long drive home in the early morning hours, I felt as if I had just been witness to an historic event.
In the long view of boxing history, that could end up sounding like hyperbole. But watching one elite fighter completely dismantle another elite fighter can sometimes provoke that sort of response.
And I'm willing to bet it won't sound like hyperbole at all.
Grzegorz Proksa (28-2, 21 KOs) of Poland is a quick and athletic fighter with good power and an awkward southpaw style. The Ring had him ranked No. 9 in the world at 160 going into last night's action, just one spot behind Golovkin.
He is nobody's idea of a pushover. But last night, Golovkin made him look like one.
Golovkin is a stalking slugger, a banger with great footwork who patiently walks his opponent down. For much of the first round, it looked like Proksa's elusive style might present some problems. But near the end of the round, Golovkin showed the first flashes of his highly touted power, dropping Proksa hard with a single punch.
Proksa appeared to recover very well and went back to his game plan in Round 2. I want to be clear: Proksa looked like a world-class talent last night. He countered well at times, catching Golovkin with the type of power shots that I have seen him use to rock other world-class talents.
But Golovkin walked through them, patiently and accurately landing punishing blows. Even his jabs landed with thudding impact, moving Proksa's head with the kind of violence that will take away a boxer's balance and bearings.
In the third, Golovkin began to find Proksa's body. He trapped the two-time European champion against the ropes and doubled up to Proksa's ribs with vicious hooks. In Round 4, he again brutalized Proksa's body against the ropes, then moved back and floored the Pole when he shifted his attack upstairs.
For the second time in four rounds, Proksa was on the canvas. This time I thought he was finished, but he somehow made it to his feet and showed a true warrior's heart to gut out the round.
From the opening bell of the fifth, it was clear Golovkin was looking to wrap things up for the night. He floored Proksa again, and this time Proksa landed face down.
He valiantly made it back to his feet but was still wobbly, clearly unable to intelligently defend himself. Referee Charlie Fitch made the only responsible decision possible, waving the fight off and calling a halt 1:11 into the round.
Afterwards, a triumphant Golovkin met with the press, flanked by trainer Abel Sanchez and promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions.
Loeffler revealed that he had already started talks with HBO for broadcast rights for Golovkin's next fight. The goal is to have Golovkin fight again before the end of the year.
"It's very important that he stays busy now," Sanchez elaborated, pointing out that Golovkin was 30 and in the heart of his physical prime.
Earlier in the day, Daniel Geale of Australia had beaten Felix Sturm by split decision, capturing the WBA "super" world middleweight title to go along with his own IBF belt. He was among the first names raised during the press conference.
In my own opinion—and I believe a lot of boxing writers would agree with me—the WBA "super" title was only ever even invented to deal with the impasse caused by the fact that Sturm didn't want to risk a fight with Golovkin.
Loeffler confirmed that the WBA had issued a resolution that the winners of Proksa-Golovkin and Sturm-Geale would have 20 days to negotiate a mandatory unification fight. Considering Geale's IBF strap (and Golovkin's IBO, for what it's worth) would also be up for grabs, it would make for a pretty sweet pot.
The other obvious possibility that was quickly asked about was the winner of Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., scheduled for HBO pay-per-view on September 15. Martinez is already viewed by most fans and writers as the true middleweight world champion. He holds The Ring belt and ranks in most people's pound-for-pound top five.
Team Golovkin left no doubts that they would welcome a bout with the winner. When asked directly who he would like to see his fighter take on next, Sanchez was blunt: "Winner of Martinez-Chavez. And then we go after unification bouts."
Sanchez confirmed that Proksa had been viewed as an attractive opponent due to the fact that he has a somewhat similar style to Martinez.
But the clearest message of the press conference was that K2 plans to keep Golovkin busy against the best possible opponents they can find. In his post-fight interview with HBO's Max Kellerman, Golovkin stated he was willing to fight anybody in the world, from 154 to 168 pounds.
I asked for some clarification on this bold statement at the press conference. Loeffler said, "We feel that Gennady is strongest at 160. But he can make 154 easily and we think he has the power to compete with anybody at 168."
The possibilities for Golovkin truly become intriguing when you factor in this claim. Middleweight is already deep with talent. But if you throw junior and super middleweight into the equation, things really open up wide.
Golovkin could go up and challenge the winner of Andre Ward and Chad Dawson. A fight with the very popular and always game Carl Froch would be a fan-pleaser for sure.
At the same time, Golovkin could be a future opponent for Saul Alvarez or Miguel Cotto at 154. And if Golovkin is willing to go to 154 (from seeing him up close, I believe he could easily make it) that means just one thing.
Gennady Golovkin has to be viewed as an emerging player in the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes.
Golovkin has committed to training in the United States now, at Big Bear with Sanchez. He is quickly learning English, and in his post-fight interview with Kellerman and his press conference, he came across as a very marketable fighter.
He has a natural, unforced smile. He is too confident to qualify as humble, but there's not an ounce of boast or brag in him. Both he and his promoter Loeffler spoke about other fighters in respectful language.
They simply believe he is the best. And they are hungry to make sure the entire world finds out as soon as possible.
Briggs Seekins is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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