WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin continues to impress with every showing.
His latest victim was a game and tough Curtis Stevens on Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. After dropping Stevens with a face-distorting left hook in the second round, Golovkin systematically pounded the Brooklyn native into submission for the next six frames.
Mercifully, the fight was stopped after the eighth round. Stevens made a good account of himself, but the stoppage was just because it was clear who the better man was. Golovkin improved his record to 28-0 with 25 wins coming by TKO/KO.
There was much to like about the 31-year-old Kazakh's performance, and here are the highlights.
Steady, Hard and Effective Jab
Coming into the fight, Golovkin had been primarily known as a power-punching, body-punishing slugger. On Saturday night, he used his jab as the base for his entire attack. This was not a flicking, space-creating jab; it was a hard, head-snapping punch that helped to wear Stevens down.
Per HBO.com, Golovkin had landed 11.2 jabs per round in his last three fights. The official jab totals were not immediately available via CompuBox, but in the pivotal second round, I counted 16 jabs landed for GGG.
With this as a weapon, GGG has become a complete offensive fighter and even scarier for potential opponents.
Make no mistake about it—Stevens can punch. He came into the fight with 18 of his 25 wins coming by way of TKO/KO. Most recently, he had scored thunderous knockout wins over Saul Roman and Elvin Ayala in two of his last three fights.
On Saturday night, his game plan was to land a hard, counter left hook. On a few occasions, he did catch Golovkin with power shots from both hands.
A couple of those punches backed Golovkin up, but none of them drastically altered his physical demeanor or discouraged his long-term pursuit. One question that some may have had about Golovkin was whether he could take the punch of a heavy hitter like Stevens. On Saturday night, he answered that question.
According to the HBO broadcast, he absorbed 97 power punches from Stevens en route to his victory.
In this post-fight interview, Stevens discusses his loss to Golovkin. He describes Golovkin's power as the "wear-you-down" type.
Golovkin landed a left hook that made Stevens do this in the second round:
Stevens' statement seems accurate. The combination of hard jabs, hooks and draining body shots is the type of arsenal that breaks the will of opponents. Golovkin also constantly comes forward. In this fight, this was especially the case once he found the range on his jab.
The pressure only accentuates the impact of the thudding shots because he doesn't give opponents time to recuperate.
What's Next for GGG?
He will be a difficult champion to dethrone. After the fight, he called out lineal Ring and WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
Based on both men's most recent performances, you'd have to give Golovkin the edge in this potential battle. Martinez will be 39 in February, and he's beginning to show his age of late. Although he dominated most of his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Sept. 2012, he was nearly stopped in the final round.
Against Martin Murray in April, he was dropped in the eighth round and won a controversial decision in his native Argentina. Many believe he was the beneficiary of a hometown advantage in that one.
In any case, he's the biggest name in the division and the next target on Golovkin's radar. We'll have to wait and see if GGG gets his man.
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