It was Daniel Geale’s best Saturday night moment.
The 33-year-old launched a right hand toward the head of the onrushing IBO/WBA middleweight champion late in the third round and let out a violent-looking snarl as the punch connected.
Problem was, the best moment for the guy on whose face the shot landed came a split second later.
And when that moment arrived—in the form of a counter right that first rendered Geale horizontal before prompting a subsequent wobbly legged surrender to referee Mike Ortega—the already well-fueled Gennady Golovkin hype machine officially ratcheted up to supersonic speed.
Statistically speaking, the victory meant many things to the Kazakhstan-born titleholder.
It provided the eighth successful defense of the IBO crown he first won in 2011 and the sixth defense of the top-tier WBA belt he’s held since previous “super” champion Felix Sturm was dethroned in 2012.
It was his 30th consecutive win in a pro career that stretches back to 2006—after an amateur run that yielded wins in all but five of 350 fights and a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
It also stretched a prodigious KO streak to 17 fights over six-plus years, since he was taken the full eight-round distance by Amar Amari in the boxing backwoods of Brondby, Denmark, in June 2008.
And make no mistake, folks: HBO is paying particular attention to that last one.
By decisively beating a man perceived as his most qualified opponent, Golovkin provided the most compelling argument yet that the self-proclaimed “Network of Champions” is in broadcast possession of the fighter most likely to tickle the hardcore fancy of the mainstream fight fan. (Geale had predated his foe as IBO and WBA champion, not to mention having a two-year reign atop the IBF’s 160-pound heap.)
While Floyd Mayweather Jr. remains a dominant pound-for-pound leader in well-heeled spectacle, Triple-G presents onlookers with a guttural-level throwback titillation, thanks to a style that’s far more akin to Rocky Balboa’s meat-locker rib-cracking than Apollo Creed’s costumed presidential coin tosses.
By the end of one round Saturday, Geale was bleeding from the right eyelid. By the close of two, he’d been floored by a clubbing right hand and returned to the corner with a face scraped pink by thudding jabs. And by the time the end arrived at 2:47 of the third, the HBO broadcast team had caught the fever.
“I can’t think of anything else in sports right now that I'd rather see than a Gennady Golovkin fight,” said a breathless Max Kellerman, who’d already compared Golovkin’s in-fight prowess to that of Hall of Fame heavyweight Joe Louis. “He continues to create demand. He’s the surest thing in pro sports.”
The winner did a broken-English sales pitch of his own with Kellerman in the post-fight interview, building the must-see brand by saying, “If you need an amazing show, call me. I’m ready to take on everybody.”
Just who’s in a rush to take him up on the offer will determine Golovkin’s immediate career arc.
Though he says he could make 154 pounds for a pay-per-view show, the idea that anyone on that level at welterweight or junior middleweight would fight him is unlikely at best and preposterous at worst. A similar tale may be true at 160, where newly minted WBC champ Miguel Cotto is far more often linked with ex-154-pound kingpin Saul “Canelo” Alvarez than his two-belted middleweight contemporary.
That may ultimately necessitate a validation-seeking climb to 168, where consensus champion—and fellow HBO commodity—Andre Ward is still seeking to jump from cognoscenti favorite to mainstream, alongside a second tier of proven TV needle-movers such as Carl Froch and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
And while Froch didn’t seem eager to mix with Golovkin when asked during a Facebook Q&A in May, his reticence did provide the network a final chance to stoke the promotional blaze before signing off.
“Just swerve Golovkin like the plague. He punches like a mule,” read the HBO graphic, subsequently framed by Jim Lampley as a bald-faced avoidance. “I don’t need to be in with him. Dangerous fight.”
If Geale's fortunes are indicative, Froch won't be the last to express the sentiment.