NEW YORK CITY – Daniel Geale wanted to walk a fine line between giving Gennady Golovkin too much respect and too little in their middleweight championship fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Too much and he would have gone into a shell. Too little and he would get run over.
In the end it didn’t matter as Golovkin, knocked Geale down twice, flattening him for good in the third round on a beautifully delivered counter right hand that scored a TKO victory at 2:47 of the round. With the victory Golovkin retained his WBA and IBO middleweight titles and thrilled the crowd of 8,572.
It was a near-flawless performance from Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs), who did nothing to damage his image as a seek-and-destroy middleweight machine. Add to the fact that Geale, a former two-time middleweight champion, was one of the best opponents that Golovkin has faced in his two year run toward the top of the division.
Golovkin’s power is awe-inspiring. Geale (30-3, 16 KOs) became his 17th straight knockout victim. He is quickly becoming a Mike Tyson-like performer where his fans come to the arena expecting him to knock his opponent stiff. And he delivers – sooner rather than later.
“I was very happy with my performance,” Golovkin said. “I want unification fights. I want (Miguel) Cotto (THE RING and WBC champion).”
After the fight the Garden speakers were blaring Frank Sinatra’s “New York-New York” – the song that typifies strivers who come to the big city. It is also the song that plays at Yankee Stadium after the Yankees win. No one swings for the fences like Golovkin. And when he connects it is lights out for his opponents.
Geale can attest to that.
“Golovkin is pretty quick,” Geale said. “I think I fell into a couple of his traps. Things were going right early on. I guess that’s what happens when you relax a little bit.”
The arena had been scaled for 9,000, but there were still plenty of empty seats scattered about for the main event. Perhaps most of the boxing fans in New York were not sold on Geale as the right man to take down Golovkin.
This was Golovkin’s star turn in the big room. He had already fought in the small room – The Theater at MSG – and had displayed the kind of fireworks against Curtis Stevens that turn boxers into box office attractions. He battered Stevens, knocking him down in the second round, and forcing Stevens’ corner to stop it in the eighth round.
Golovkin spent the week making the rounds in Manhattan before stepping into the ring. He made a trip to Brighton Beach to mingle with the Russian community. He made a cameo appearance in the Broadway musical “Rocky” hitting the heavy bag and being introduced as a real up and comer by Rocky’s grizzled trainer Mickey.
There were questions about Golovkin’s mental state. He had spent six months in Kazakhstan to be with his family after his father died. The fight against Geale was Golovkin’s first since the death of his father. If he was distracted it didn’t show.
Geale, a two-time middleweight champion, had plenty of motivation to regain his title. But the question was whether he had enough in his arsenal to turn back Golovkin when he got in his stalking mode. Few boxers had been able to do it as Golovkin had ended all but three of his previous bouts inside the distance and had never gone beyond eight rounds in any match. Geale didn’t alter that trend.
It seemed that matters were stacked against Geale, who is from Mt. Annon, Australia. There was a malfunction of the clock in the first round with it going four minutes instead of the standard three minutes. Plus Geale tripped over a cameraman’s camera on the ring apron and fell to the mat.
The second round didn’t get much better for Geale who got dropped by Golovkin with a glancing blow that caught Geale in the back of the head. He was up quickly and didn’t look like he was any worst for the wear. But he got up rubbing the back of his head, indicating to referee Michael Ortega that he had been fouled.
It was the beginning of the end for Geale.
Geale had said he was going to press forward against Golovkin. He said he learned from the Matthew Macklin fight that you can’t go in a shell against Golovkin because he would just stalk you until you withered. He would rather take the fight to him. And that was what he was doing when he got clipped by Golovkin in that third round.
Geale had landed a sharp left that sent Golovkin’s head snapping back. But within a split second Golovkin was firing back with a counter right hand that caught Geale on the chin and sent him tumbling forward and caught him with a short left hand for good measure as Geale was heading for the canvas.
Geale landed flat on his back and grabbed the side of his head with both gloves. It looked like he couldn’t believe he had gotten clobbered by lightning. He got up quickly as he had done in the second round. But he was very unsteady on his feet. And when Ortega asked him to step forward, signaling that he was ready to continue, Geale shook his head “No.” That prompted Ortega to stop the fight.
It’s just as well because if he had continued, Geale would have taken a worst beating.
Geale said he was disappointed in himself. He expected to take the fight the distance. But Golovkin isn’t a distance fighter.
“He’s the best 160 pounder I’ve ever seen,” said Gary Shaw, Geale’s promoter. “I honestly thought Geale could take him to the 12th round.”
Tom Loeffler, President of K2 Promotions, Golovkin’s promoter, said they keep raising the bar for Golovkin and he keeps exceeding it.
“We’ve always said that Gennady would rise to the occasion,” Loeffler said. When he fought (Matthew) Macklin we said that was the best that he had faced and he beat him. Geale was the best that he faced. The way he took out Geale was real impressive. Geale tried to land his best punch and he got knocked out with a counter punch.”
Loeffler said they will be on the phone with possible opponents for Golovkin’s next date in the ring, which is October or November. They would like to get Cotto in the Garden for a unification match.
“Gennady doesn’t mind being the B side. He’d be the C side. That’s an electric fight,” Loeffler said. “At the end of the day we’ll see who will sign on the dotted line.”
Photo gallery by Naoki Fukuda