In addition to halting Stevens in eight rounds, he also took care of business against Gabriel Rosado (TKO 7), Nobuhiro Ishida (KO 3) and Mathew Macklin (KO 3). Now while there is something to be said about his work rate and consistency, defeating this quartet probably won’t be enough to win those honors (which will most likely come down to Floyd Mayweather or Tim Bradley).
But make no doubt about it; Golovkin has arrived as a marquee name in the sport. He came into this fight an admittedly peeved prizefighter after listening to the bluster of the Brooklyn native, who, among his more bold statements, had tweeted photos of caskets dedicated to Golovkin.
“Yeah, I was angry, like, ‘Man, y’ know...’ not like sportsman. He has big mouth like mad dog, just too much,” Golovkin told the ringside media shortly after his 28th professional victory. Stevens brought not only tough talk but a pair of heavy hands that brought an element of danger not seen in his previous contests. But Golovkin stated, “I never felt his power.”
After sending Stevens to the floor in the second with a left hook, you were reminded of Mike Tyson’s old quote, “Everyone has a plan...till they get hit.” Golovkin has the type of power that changes the equation inside the ring for anyone standing across from him. Stevens never went all-in offensively for fear of the buzzsaw he might run into.
Despite having huge amateur credentials, there is still some who doubt Golovkin’s overall skill set. But against Stevens, he was patient and sound and just slowly chopped Stevens down with well-placed and accurate shots to the body and head. You got the feeling that if Stevens didn’t catch lightning in a bottle early on, his chances at pulling the upset would dissipate by the moment. Every once in awhile, “Showtime” could catch Golovkin but could never really sustain his attack. In the last moments of the eighth, Golovkin battered him to the body and you could almost feel the air come out of Stevens, who bravely withstood the assault. As the bell sounded to end the round, his trainer, Andre Rozier made the prudent decision to call off the fight (and based on current events and what would happen later this night, could anyone argue?)
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I showed more in this loss than most people show in a win,” said Stevens, who dropped to 25-4 (18). “This is not the end. I’ll learn from my mistakes and I’ll be back.” For Golovkin, this was just another night at the office. “Hey guys, you see my fight. It’s nothing for me. It’s an easy job for me.”
So what’s next for Golovkin? A crowd of just over 4,600 was announced for this most recent event (just shy of a sell-out) and his fights do create a bit of a buzz now. But the question is: Can he get one of the marquee names to step into the ring with him in 2014? You get the sense that the risk vs. reward ratio to face this Kazakh is still a bit too low for the likes of consensus 160-pound champ Sergio Martinez (who seems destined for a fight versus Miguel Cotto) or anyone else with a middleweight title strap.
“I’m champion. I’m open for everybody. I want it,” stated Golovkin, now 31.
Loeffler explained, “HBO, they gave us a lot of support to make the Macklin fight. That was really the fight that put Gennady over the top here in the United States as far as raising his profile and you look at the crowd tonight - we had 150 tickets that went unsold. So that’s basically a sell-out and it was a great fight night.”
Perhaps in lieu of a lucrative match at 160, Golovkin moves up to super middleweight to face the likes of Andre Ward or Carl Froch.
“I know HBO wants to put together a big fight for him and we’re going to keep moving in that direction,” said Loeffler. When asked what he considered the most realistic option for Golovkin, he answered, “Sergio Martinez is a very proud champion. I think he wants to continue to prove that he’s the best middleweight champion. If [Martinez] fights somebody like Miguel Cotto and he wins, I think that’s the most realistic fight out there.”
It’s not clear what 2014 will bring for Golovkin but there’s no doubting what the past year has meant to him and his career. No longer is he just this European urban legend but a boxer who just might have arrived.
“Yes, absolutely right,” said a satisfied Golovkin. “It’s just step by step, baby steps for me. I’m ready for big fights. I’m ready for tough fighters.”
On hand at the fights was veteran observer Steve Farhood (who, yes, does go to HBO fights as a member of the media) and I asked him if Golovkin’s plight reminds him a bit of the road traveled by Marvelous Marvin Hagler in the ’70s before striking it rich.
“It does except for the quality of opposition. This guy’s been in nine WBA title fights; he’s scored nine knockouts. As a fan, you have to say that he’s whetting your appetite. You want to see more. You want to see him against the very best. Hagler, we saw against the very best; even the guys coming up, the Philadelphia guys were real good fighters,” said Farhood, referring to the likes of Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Bennie Briscoe and Willie Monroe.
“And this guy, you have to want to see him against the very best. That’s what’s next and money can usually make that happen.”
So who would Farhood pick if Golovkin fought Martinez right now?
“I would take Golovkin.”
While he wasn’t victorious, Stevens showed he can still be very useful in the middleweight division. He’s come a long way in a short time under the guidance of Main Events.
“I told him, ‘I know you’re really upset and I know it sucks to lose but you have nothing to be ashamed of. You made lots of fans tonight,” said Kathy Duva to her client, who is now an easier sell to HBO going down the road. “They’re actually telling me that now, HBO executives, that they’d like to see him again. Look, that guy [Golovkin] we saw in the ring tonight beats everyone else in the middleweight division. There’s a lot of good fighters in the middleweight division. He’s exciting; he’s fun; he’s explosive, powerful. Why wouldn’t you want him back?”
Duva also noted, “I think he has finally banished the ghost of Jesse Brinkley.”
While at the airport on Sunday morning, I received a phone call from a boxing insider who told me that heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov had brain surgery late Saturday night and was in a coma after his 10-round loss to Mike Perez in the HBO co-feature. Unfortunately, this news was true and FightNews.com reported that afternoon:
Boris Grinberg, manager of heavyweight warrior Magomed Abdusalamov, has confirmed to Fightnews.com that Abdusalamov has been placed in a medically induced coma at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. According to Grinberg, the 32-year-old Abdusalamov suffered a broken nose and cheek and a broken hand in his particularly brutal fight with Mike Perez Saturday night at the Madison Square Garden Theater. Magomed complained of a severe headache several hours after the fight and doctors discovered a small blood clot on his brain. Grinberg stressed that Abdusalamov is in stable condition and more will be known soon. Fightnews will continue to monitor the situation.
Later on, Przemek Garczarczyk gave this update for FightNews:
According to Boris Grinberg, manager of heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov, Mago is doing better. “He is in the hospital, under steady observation but he’s definitively better with every passing hour,” Grinberg told Fightnews.com. “I want to say a big thanks for all the well wishes we received. We will know more Monday morning when our team will issue a special press release about Magomed’s health situation.
And then this:
Nathan Lewkowicz, Vice President of Sampson Promotions, has updated Fightnews.com on the condition of heavyweight contender Magomed Abdusalamov. The brave Russian warrior who went ten brutal rounds against Mike Perez Saturday night, is still in ICU at Roosevelt Hospital and remains in stable condition. According to Lewkowicz, Abdusalamov had part of his skull removed to reduce swelling.
Ken Hershman, President of HBO Sports, issued the following statement: “The thoughts and prayers of all of us at HBO Sports are with Magomed Abdusalamov. We are grateful for the medical care he is receiving here in New York City and out of respect for Magomed and his family, we will wait for any official updates on his condition before making any further statements.
I think this really illuminates the wise decision of the Stevens corner in choosing to end the fight when they did instead of subjecting its charge to an unnecessary and perhaps fatal beating from a hard-punching fighter. In the wake of the passing of Franky Leal and now this past weekend, I think all of boxing needs to rethink and readjust its attitudes toward pulling boxers out of fights that are hopelessly lost and the arcane belief that there is a certain morale victory in going the distance in losing efforts.
Loeffler announced that Golovkin will return on February 1st in Monte Carlo and would be negotiating with HBO to get this televised...I heard that the Giovani Segura-Hernan Marquez fight was quite the scrap. I’ll be catching that on my DVR...So James Kirkland is back with Ann Wolfe? Good. They simply belong together...Saturday night showed that Miami is still at least a recruiting class or two away from being where Florida State is...Always great to hang out at Jimmy’s Corner when in New York City. Jimmy Glenn is a gem...Long distance flights are much better when you can watch the NFL Red Zone as I did on Sunday afternoon...I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.