Gennady Golovkin: The Kazakhstani emerged as a winner on several levels after his fifth-round knockout of Grzegorz Proksa on Saturday in Verona, N.Y., on HBO, Golovkin’s first fight in the U.S. There was the fight itself, in which Golovkin (24-0, 21 knockouts) destroyed a good opponent in a manner reminiscent of the sport’s greatest sluggers. It seems almost inevitable that he will hurt his foe, a rare – and thrilling – quality. There was the platform, a large U.S. audience on a premium network that undoubtedly was impressed. And, finally, there was his humility in an interview immediately after the fight. The man is an absolute terror during the action and endearing otherwise, a combination most fans will wholeheartedly embrace. Plus, his English is pretty good. It’s too early to anoint Golovkin a major star because his biggest tests lie ahead. But it sure looks like he’s headed swiftly in that direction.
Grzegorz Proksa: The Pole’s night wasn’t all bad. Proksa (28-2, 21 KOs) had a miserable night in the ring, where he was annihilated by a superior fighter on the biggest stage of his career. We shouldn’t be too hard on him, though; the guess here is that anyone willing to engage Golovkin will end up on the wrong side of a vicious knockout. And Proksa did engage him. He had the guts to march into the fire even after he was hurt, something not many fighters would be willing to do. That will have endeared him to fans, who admire courage even if it’s foolhardy. Proksa also apparently has an engaging personality, which always helps in terms of marketability. Make no mistake: His credibility took a hit as a result of the brutal setback. He still has a lot going for him, though. We haven’t heard the last from Proksa.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Daniel Geale: The 31-year-old Aussie took a significant chance by agreeing to fight Felix Sturm in Germany, Sturm’s comfortable home turf. The gamble paid off. Geale (28-1, 15 KOs) outworked Sturm to emerge with a split-decision victory – by scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 112-116 – and a second major middleweight title. More important, the win was a significant step in Geale’s career: He proved he can beat a proven veteran in difficult circumstances. Thus, Geale, rated No. 2 by THE RING going into the fight, replaces No. 1 Sturm and becomes the logical opponent for the winner of the fight between Champion Sergio Martinez and No. 3 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in what probably would be the biggest payday of his career. For now, Geale might want to avoid his WBA mandatory challenger – Golovkin.
Felix Sturm: Sturm (37-3-2, 16 KOs) seemed to be slipping in controversial fights against Matthew Macklin (split-decision victory) and Martin Murray (split-decision draw) last year, although he bounced back to stop Sebastian Zbik in April. One could argue the loss to Geale should’ve been his third in four fights, which would’ve been a horrible streak for such a successful fighter. However, we shouldn’t draw definite conclusions. All three of the fighters against whom Sturm struggled are quality contenders. Is Sturm, 33, as good as he was a few years ago? Probably not. Does he remain an elite fighter? I think so. And I think Geale would agree. Sturm was the sharper technician on Saturday night but wasn’t quite active enough to win. We’ll learn a lot more about what he has left in his next fight, assuming he faces a top-tier opponent.
Golovkin: “I have a little bit nervous just my first debut in United States. I think the next fight much, much better.” Yikes!