Gennady Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) made a triumphant return to the ring on Saturday night, nine months after his painful majority-decision loss to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Golovkin's brutal power was on full display, as he knocked out heavy underdog Steve Rolls (19-1, 10 KOs) in the fourth round of a 164-pound catchweight bout at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
After three rounds of steady work on Rolls' body, Golovkin opened up in the fourth. A string of power punches ending with a crushing left hook to the chin sent Rolls tumbling to the canvas. The Canadian tried to stagger to his feet, but he fell back into the ropes for the 10-count.
CBS Sports' Brian Campbell and NYFights.com's Michael Woods reacted to the knockout:
After the bout, Golovkin said he wants to make it a trilogy with Alvarez later this year, per Ring's Mike Coppinger:
Working with a new trainer in Johnathon Banks, the 37-year-old Golovkin was out to prove that after drawing with and losing to Alvarez, he can get an outcome in his favor in a third fight. He showed a few new wrinkles and combinations, though there is still plenty for Alvarez to exploit.
Rolls, who came into the bout undefeated, was stiff for most of the fight but did flash his skill on a few occasions. He snapped Golovkin's head back with a right in the second round after landing a fluid combination.
SportingNews.com's Andreas Hale admired his willingness to go toe-to-toe with one of the hardest hitters in boxing:
Golovkin, who lives and dies by a thunderous jab that can punish opponents as it sets up other punches, showed off some variety in this bout. Rolls kept his guard high, wary of Golovkin's knockout power, so the former middleweight went to the body early and often, battering Rolls' ribs with short, arcing hooks.
The Kazakhstani fighter also showed off a bit of head movement to avoid Rolls' punches and added some circling action to his usual straight-ahead assault.
It was different, but it wasn't always effective. Rolls managed to escape from trouble on a few occasions in the first three rounds. He acquitted himself well in a few exchanges. Eventually, though, the punishment caught up with him.
The Ringer's Micah Peters noted Golovkin is a man of simple tastes:
When it comes down to it, Golovkin's fights can be simple, in that they usually end in the same fashion: early, and with the other guy hitting the canvas. Rolls bravely stood in the pocket with Golovkin, but the latter's arcing power shots found their way around the guard and brought him down in stunning fashion.
Golovkin's quick work against an overmatched opponent is a good sign the 37-year-old will be plenty entertaining for the duration of his six-fight contract with DAZN. If the trilogy fight with Alvarez comes to fruition, he will have to show that he can pack in the power while avoiding damage.
Alvarez is a master counterpuncher and appears to have an iron chin. Golovkin showed Saturday he's still dangerous, but he will need to be more than that to get a win against Alvarez.