NEW YORK – Three thoughts on Gennady Golovkin’s eighth-round knockout win over David Lemieux at Madison Square Garden.
1. Golovkin is the best fighter in the world
In the aftermath of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement, many have wondered: Who’s the best? Look no further than Golovkin, who picked up his 34th win (and 31st knockout) with another one-sided destruction of a top contender, this time Lemieux, the IBF champion. Lemieux is a good fighter; Golovkin made him look average. His head-snapping jab was working early, pushing Lemieux (34-3) backwards and making him wary of fully committing to his power shots. A rib-splintering body shot sent Lemieux down in the fifth round. Golovkin’s relentless assault–he connected on 280 of his 549 total punches per CompuBox, including 110 power shots–battered and bloodied Lemieux’s nose. At the end of the seventh, referee Steve Willis looked ready to stop it. He let the fight go another round, but jumped in quickly when Golovkin started to surge in the eighth. It was a clean stoppage of a fight that was only going to get worse for Lemieux.
2. Golovkin got lucky
OK, the headline is misleading. But after dropping Lemieux in the fifth, Golovkin landed a flush right hand while Lemieux was on a knee. There was no malice behind it; Lemieux, having just taken a nasty body shot, took a few steps backwards before taking the knee. Still, referees have disqualified fighters for similar fouls–think Roy Jones and Montell Griffin in 1997–but Willis allowed the fight to continue, and didn’t deduct a point. Lemieux recovered and ultimately it didn’t change the outcome, but Golovkin definitely dodged a bullet with that one.
3. Opponents have no excuses now
It will be an anxious few days for Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter who has masterfully built Golovkin into a star in the U.S. the last three years. A common response from top middleweights when asked about Golovkin: He doesn’t bring enough money. Well, Golovkin extracts huge license fees from HBO. He has sold out StubHub Center in Southern California and just packed 20,548 fans into Madison Square Garden. Next week, Golovkin will find out if he can draw an audience on pay-per-view. If he can–and HBO and K2 execs say that anything north of 200,000 buys is a huge win–Loeffler will be free to make big money offers to the likes of Saul Alvarez and Miguel Cotto, who face off on November 21st, Peter Quillin and Daniel Jacobs, who fight in December, and titleholder Andy Lee.
Then, there will be only one excuse to not fight Golovkin: They don’t want a piece of this monster.