The big stage welcomed Gennady Golovkin, and the native of Kazakhstan grasped the opportunity. In his first bout tagged with pay-per-view headline billing, Golovkin not only passed the test but also likely crossed the threshold into marquee attraction.
Continuing to display why he is arguably boxing’s top finisher, Golovkin scored an eighth-round technical-knockout victory over Canada’s David Lemieux late Saturday in New York. The middleweight title unification bout attracted a capacity crowd of 20,548 at Madison Square Garden.
“[Saturday] was a big day for me,” Golovkin said in a post-fight news conference. “This is a big step for my future.”
Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) gradually wore down Lemieux with a stiff left jab and punishing shots to the head and body. A game Lemieux (34-3) scored with sporadic hooks and rights to the head but couldn’t maintain pace with Golovkin’s busier and accurate punch volume.
In the fifth round, Golovkin dropped Lemieux with a left hook to the body. Golovkin was spared from a foul and possible disqualification by referee Steve Willis when he hit Lemieux with a right to the head as Lemieux knelt for the knockdown count.
The knockdown signaled the downfall for Lemieux, who entered the fight as defending International Boxing Federation champion. Golovkin found his opening midway through the eighth as he pressed Lemieux with a series of combinations to the head and body. The punch buildup forced Willis to stop the bout at 1:32 of the round.
With the stoppage, Golovkin increased his knockout victory streak to 21. Golovkin, who is now recognized as titleholder by three sanctioning bodies, has 14 successful title defenses since becoming 160-pound champion in 2010.
“I felt his power, but I was strong tonight and my punches hurt him,” Golovkin said. “He is a great champion and I’m glad to beat him.”
In the bout preceding the Golovkin-Lemieux match, Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (44-0, 38 KOs) proved again why he is one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighters after his ninth-round TKO win over Brian Viloria (36-5). Gonzalez retained his World Boxing Council flyweight belt.
A three-division world champion, Gonzalez floored Viloria (36-5) in the third round and continued to land solid combinations to the head and body until referee Benjy Estevez stopped the bout at 2:53 of the ninth.
Miami resident Luis Ortiz (23-0, 20 KOs) also fought on the card and improved his stock for a possible heavyweight-title fight after his third-round knockout victory over Argentina’s Matias Vidondo.
▪ Prichard Colon underwent brain surgery and remains in critical condition following his junior-middleweight bout against Terrel Williams on Saturday in Fairfax, Virginia. Although he was down knocked twice in the ninth round, Colon, 23, left the ring under his own power. Colon, who failed to answer the bell for the 10th round, experienced dizziness and vomited in his dressing room. The native of Puerto Rico was rushed immediately to Inova Fairfax Hospital and underwent tests that revealed bleeding on the brain.
▪ A rib injury sustained during a sparring session forced IBF welterweight champion Kell Brock to withdraw from his title defense against Diego Chaves on Saturday in Sheffield, England.
The Brock-Chaves postponement is the second world title fight scheduled for Europe on Saturday that was canceled because of a fighter’s injury. Earlier, part-time Hollywood resident Wladimir Klitschko withdrew from his heavyweight title defense against Tyson Fury in Germany after a calf injury. The fight has been rescheduled for Nov. 28.
Miami Herald wire services were used to supplement this report.
Friday (10:30 p.m., Showtime): Rob Brant vs. Louis Rose, 10, middleweights.
Friday (11:30 p.m., Telemundo-Ch. 51): Daniel Lozano vs. David Quijano, 10, junior-bantamweights.
Saturday (9:30 p.m., HBO): Terence Crawford vs. Diery Jean, 12, for Crawford’s WBO junior-welterweight title.