By Jake Donovan
Daniel Geale returned to the ring and the win column, pummelling Garth Wood to the tune of three official knockdowns before the fight was mercifully halted after six one-sided rounds Wednesday evening in Sydney, Australia.
The bout marked Geale's first ring appearance since conceding his middleweight title to Darren Barker last August in Atlantic City, a bout that served as his stateside debut.
Geale came ready to fight, determined to make a statement that he's ready to return to the middleweight title picture. The former middleweight titlist was initially measured in his approach, but began pressing the action.
Wood never quite made the adjustment, as he found himself under siege and eventually on the canvas courtesy of a right hand. He managed to beat the count, but was pummeled for the remainder of the round, though somehow managing to make it to the bell.
Geale had knockout on his mind in round two, but his body attack proved a bit too overzealous. Wood put his acting chops to use, twice falling to the canvas following punches that both landed on the beltline but sold by the former reality star as low blows.
The latter of the two resulted in a point deduction for Geale, while Wood was absurdly permitted to sit on his stool and receive instruction from his corner before deciding he was fit to continue.
While action was never competitive, Wood managed to remain on his feet for the better part of rounds three and four. That was the closest he would come to producing a competitive fight as Geale never relinquished control of the fight.
The punishment resumed in round five, when Wood was drilled hard enough to go down twice from a single left hook. He was still loopy after receiving the eight count, taking a beating for the remainder of the round and then a little bit longer as neither the fighters nor the referee heard the bell to end round five.
While referee Charles Lucas could be forgiven for that oversight, his allowing the action to continue into and through round six was purely inexcusable. The third man severely failed in his role to protect a fighter no longer able to defend himself, allowing Geale to dish out three more minutes of punishment, including the third knockdown of the fight. An overhand right forced Wood to the canvas, briefly rising before dropping to a knee for the full mandatory eight count.
The bell once again saved the beaten fighter, though his corner had the sense to force a halt to the onslaught as he was disallowed to leave his stool for the start of round seven.
The official time was 3:00 of round six.
Geale rolls to 30-2 (16KO) with the win, his first since topping countryman Anthony Mundine in his lone successful middleweight title defense more than a year ago.
Wood falls to 12-4-1 (8KO) with the loss, snapping a two-fight win streak. A past winner of Australian Contender, Wood's true claim to fame came with a monstrous upset knockout win of Anthony Mundine in Dec. '10. He has since lost three of his last five, including the rematch to Mundine four months later and a Feb. '12 points loss to Sam Soliman, who was live at ringside for this bout.
The loss marked the first time Wood has been stopped since his second pro fight back in June '07.
The power surge offered by Geale was intended to serve notice to the rest of the middleweight division. Whether or not anyone else will get the memo remains to be seen, although the Aussie has a considerable fan base and brings a lot to the table for any big fight to be made.
One in particular involves an opponent he was forced to turn down due to conflicting televised rights on his end. However, Geale made it clear he would love to revisit those talks once the time is right for his next attempt to re-enter the middleweight title fight picture.
"Gennady Golovkin... is who I'd love to fight," Geale insisted in no uncertain terms. "If they can make that happen, I would love for that to be my next fight."
It was a fight that Golovkin's handlers sought for the unbean Kazakh knockout artist, who next appears in the ring April 26 in New York City, live on HBO. The date was offered to Geale, who was forced to turn down the fight since Australia Main Event - which aired Wednesday's show - had already booked a UFC pay-per-view event for the evening.
Sensing his first fight of 2014 wouldn't be a title fight, Geale sought other means to keep busy in the event he is forced to wait until the summer months for his next big opportunity.
"I know that big things are going to happen, but I didn't want to sit around and wait. The reason we fought Garth is because he's a powerful guy. If he hits you, he's going to hurt you," Geale rationalized, loosely comparing the style to what he'd be up against if the chance comes to face Golovkin.
He could get his chance in the summer. With a win in April against whomever he faces, Golovkin's handlers are eying a ring return as early as July - right around the time Geale woild like to next step through the ropes.
"I used my speed to avoid that power and to hurt (Wood). I hope to bring that to Gennady Golovkin, and after the fight bringing the title back to Australia," Geale promises.
Paul Gallen survived an opening round knockdown to score a 2nd round stoppage of Herman Ene-Purcell in their brief heavyweight slugfest.
The latest rugby star to crossover to the world of boxing, Gallen admitted that the transition is temporary. It nearly ended in disaster, as he was dropped hard in the opening round courtesy of a left hook which left him in a corner on his backside.
Momentum quickly shifted back in Gallen's direction, going on the attack in round two. Ene-Purcell was clearly shook by a late round flurry, believing the round had ended with a full minute still to go. The Samoan would never hear that round-ending bell, as Gallen unloaded until the referee forced a stoppage... and then unloaded some more as both fighters went at it before their respective corners jumped into the ring to break up the extracurricular activity.
The official time was 2:53 of round two. Gallen is 1-0 (1KO), but will return to strength and conditioning for rugby, with a possibly boxing "comeback" in store later in the year. Ene-Purcell dips to 1-2 (1KO).
Brad Pitt registered an early candidate in the Knockout of the Year category, drilling Emosi Solitua in the opening round of a matchup between unbeaten cruiserweights. A right hand froze Solitua (4-1, 3KO) in his tracks, with a left hook putting him flat on his back for the full ten count.
The official time was 2:42 of round one. Pitt rolls to 15-0 (12KO), with back-to-back knockouts giving him just five total minutes of ring action since last May.
Robert Berridge climbed off the canvas to score a 10th round stoppage of Kerry Foley in their light heavyweight rematch, which came under odd circumstances.
Foley hadn't fought since 2011 - when holding Berridge to a six-round draw - and was never before scheduled for more than eight rounds. Yet the local light heavyweight somehow found himself in a scheduled 12-round regional title fight for his first fight in more than 2½ years.
The unretired Sydney boxer was holding his own, in fact dropping Berridge midway through the bout and was winning the fight to that point. Berridge's ring experience eventually proved to be the difference, however, taking over the fight following a scored knockdown of his own in round seven.
The tide continued in that direction before Foley, following another knockdown in round ten, simply decided he had enough. The official time was 2:12 of round ten.
Berridge is now 23-1-1 (19KO), having won eight straight - all by knockout - since his lone loss, which came at the hands of now-rising contender Blake Caparello nearly two years ago.
Foley falls to 14-2-1 (12KO), having not won since May '12, ten days following Berridge's aforementioned lone loss.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox