Boxing Spotlight

Gennady Golovkin eyes big payday in Madison Square Garden


Coming up

Monday (9 p.m., Fox Sports1): Manuel Avila vs. Jose Cotta, 10, junior featherweights.

Saturday (10 p.m., HBO): Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens, 12, for Golovkin’s WBA middleweight title.

Special to the Miami Herald

Gradually climbing on pound-for-pound best fighters’ lists, Gennady Golovkin has obvious motivation beyond defending his middleweight title Saturday night.

Golovkin looks for the ascent to pay-per-view fights and another convincing performance that could move him closer toward the coveted medium.

A native of Kazakhstan, Golovkin will defend his World Boxing Association middleweight belt against Curtis Stevens at the Theater in Madison Square Garden. The bout will culminate a busy year for Golovkin, who has already made three successful defenses since January.

Golovkin was in the early phase of introductions to U.S. fight fans when he fought Gabriel Rosado in January. Three knockout wins later, Golovkin is well-known to American fight fans as his fights now are broadcast on HBO.

“When Gennady steps through the ropes and from the time the bell rings until the fight is over, he’s delivering, and I think the public appreciates that,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer.

Golovkin’s rise is attributed primarily to his fight-finishing prowess. Only three opponents have lasted the distance in a spotless 27-fight record. Golovkin is currently on a 14-fight knockout streak.

Recent Golovkin knockout victim Matthew Macklin only lasted three rounds when they fought June 29. A year earlier, Macklin gamely fought top middleweight Sergio Martinez before Martinez stopped him in the 11th round.

“He has such devastating power with both hands, whether knocking somebody out with a left hook or an uppercut or a body shot like he did with Macklin,” said Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, which promotes Golovkin.

Although Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs) has a modest four-fight knockout win streak compared to Golovkin’s, the New York native believes his punching power will present problems that Golovkin has not yet faced in his career.

“I’m coming to break him down,” Stevens said. “I’m coming to take it from him. I’m coming to crush him.”

Late Saturday

Bernard Hopkins retained his International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight title with a convincing unanimous decision win against Germany’s Karo Murat on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J.

Instead of the tactical strategy typical of his fights, Hopkins, 48, willingly traded combinations with Murat on occasions and benefited from the exchanges. Hopkins bloodied and bruised Murat’s face in another age-defying performance.

Hopkins won on two judges’ scorecards, 119-109, and 117-110 on the third.

“The crowd wanted to see skill and blood, so I had some blood to give them,” Hopkins said. “I am an entertainer, and this is what people want to see. He was a game No. 1 contender.”

Hopkins, who won his first world title in 1995, is now 54-6-2. Murat fell to 25-2-1.

On the same card, Peter Quillin successfully defended his World Boxing Organization middleweight title with a 10th-round technical knockout victory over Rosado.

Quillin (30-0, 22 KOs) dropped Rosado with a left hook to the head late in the second, but then withstood solid power shots from Rosado (21-7) in the middle rounds.

The bout’s tide changed again in the ninth when Quillin landed a shot that opened a deep cut above Rosado’s left eye.

The cut worsened, and referee Allan Huggins, under the advice of a ringside physician, stopped the fight at 40 seconds of the round.

“I did what I had to do as a fighter and I respect the call,” Quillin said. “The referees and doctors ringside did what they had to do to make sure the fighters are safe.”

A bad cut also ended Rosado’s failed title bid against Golovkin.

“This is a championship fight; we were going into the championship rounds,” Rosado said. “This was a competitive fight. I never complained about a cut.

“When the doctor saw my eye, I told him that I could see. It was not giving me any problems up to that point.”

In another bout, heavyweight contender Deontay Wilder improved to 30-0 with 30 knockouts after he stopped Nicolai Firtha at 43 seconds of the fourth round.

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