by Cliff Rold
Facing what appeared the best opponent of his professional career, 30-year old 2004 Kazakhstan Olympic Silver Medalist and WBA Middleweight beltholder Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KO) of Stuttgart, Germany, laid waste to Polish challenger Grzegorz Proksa (28-2, 21 KO) of Redhill, Surrey, United Kingdom on Saturday night at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. Golovkin scored knockdowns in the first, fourth, and fifth rounds before Proksa was saved from further harm. It was Golovkin’s fifth defense of a belt he won in 2010.
All of his title fights have ended inside the distance with only former Jr. Middleweight titlist Kasim Ouma making it past the fifth.
Proksa suffers his second loss in a turbulent 2012. His previous defeat, a decision against Kerry Hope, was avenged by knockout. He is unlikely to pursue revenge here.
Golovkin and Proksa both entered the bout one pound below the division limit at 159 lbs. The referee was Charlie Fitch.
Proksa landed the first blow of the fight, a touching left to the body from his southpaw stance. He did it again before Golovkin landed a glancing, timed right. Proksa blocked a Golovkin shot with his back to the ropes and bounced off with two lopping lefts to the forehead. Late in the round, a Golovkin left hook caught and stunned Proksa near the red corner. Firing back off balance, Proksa soon found himself on all fours when a right caught him short. He beat the count but appeared wary as he attempted to keep Golovkin off him, surviving the round.
The Pole came out firing to start the second, Golovkin steady behind his long left jab. Steady worked, Proksa rocked again as the round neared a minute to go. Proksa stayed afoot and remained focused on landing his lead left. To his chagrin, Proksa found Golovkin able to take the shot. With seconds to go, Proksa seemed bothered by contact around the left eye.
In the last minute of the third, Golovkin again rattled Proksa with hard shots while walking through what incoming fire landed throughout the frame. Proksa had his moments, but the heavy stuff favored the Kazakh.
The heavy stuff was on display again in a big way in round four. Pressuring Proksa to the ropes, Golovkin unleashed a string of echoing power shots to the head and body. The end product was Proksa flat on his back, the second knockdown of the night. Proksa again beat the count with some half a round to go. Gamely, Proksa fired back and absorbed punishment, making it to the corner once more.
The beating continued in the fifth, a right hand landing to the temple and setting up the end. Proksa, bending into the shot, jerked back up with his legs buckling beneath him. Another right landed as Golovkin came forward, Golovkin finishing the attack with a left that sent Proksa face first to the floor. Proksa made it to his feet and signaled he could go on but Fitch had seen enough.
The crowd, chanting Golovkin’s name, will surely want to see more. All smiles for the televised post-fight interview, Golovkin said he could feel Proksa from early on and acknowledged Proksa’s brave effort. “Not easy fight for me today. I’m ready. I’m ready to fight. Just, after first round, I feel I’m better.”
Asked how he felt about his U.S. television debut, Golovkin said, “I’m happy…this is my dream, fighting on HBO and in America. I’m happy now.” Talk turned quickly to the future, Golovkin stating he’d fight anyone and meaning it. The question for Golovkin will be: who wants to fight him?
One answer could arrive in the form of newly minted and unified Middleweight titlist Daniel Geale. Earlier on Saturday, in Germany, Geale added the WBA “Super” Middleweight belt to his IBF diadem via a rousing split decision. The WBA had earlier ordered a unification of their two Middleweight belts after Golovkin was denied a shot at Sturm for most of the last couple years.
Another option could be the man initially slated to face Golovkin on Saturday. Former WBO titlist Dmitry Pirog, recently stripped, was injured in training but the undefeated Russian would be a quality challenge and make for a potentially exciting fight.
There could even be the winner of the lineal Middleweight Championship fight on September 15th. Challenger and WBC titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is likely to move up in weight with a win. If Sergio Martinez retains his crown, he’s certain to stick around. Would he brave what appears the biggest threat in his field? Time will tell.
The televised opener was an abysmally dull viewing experience, a stark contrast to the thrilling main event.
Showing up an unprofessional nine pounds overweight at Friday’s weigh-in, a sluggish but heavy handed 23-year old Puerto Rican Jonathan Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KO), 163, got the first blemish on an undefeated mark, left with a draw and a poor public impression at night’s end. Landing harder blows early on, he was outhustled by 37-year old Ukrainian former Jr. Middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-1-1, 24 KO), 156 ½, of Hamburg, Germany. Dzinziruk was making his first start since being knocked out in a challenge of Martinez at Middleweight in March 2011. A draw verdict saw Gonzalez favored at 117-111 on one card, Dzinziruk 115-113 on another, with an even 114-114 sending both men home without hands raised.
The card was broadcast in the U.S. on HBO as part of its “Boxing After Dark” series, promoted by Banner Promotions, Gary Shaw Productions, and K2 Promotions.
Cliff Rold is a Managing Editor at BoxingScene, and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]