The question of the night seemed to be, is he back? But the better question pertaining to Gennadiy Golovkin, perhaps, is was he ever gone?
The IBF middleweight champion manhandled unheralded Kamil Szeremeta on Friday, knocking him down four times and stopping him after seven full rounds in the main event of a Matchroom Sport card in Hollywood, Florida.
Golovkin, who made a record 21st successful middleweight title defense, was never challenged. He dropped Szeremeta in the first with a sweeping left hook, a shot that set the tone for the night.
Szeremeta was tough, but had nothing to really compete with Golovkin. He’s an example of those sanctioning body-ordered title defenses that do little good for the sport or anyone in it.
But it was a reminder of what an elite middleweight Golovkin is, even at 38 and after more than a decade of battles against the world’s best 160-pounders.
When someone asks if he’s back, it makes no sense. He easily could have won both of his fights with Canelo Alvarez. His first, in 2017, was a split draw while Alvarez won a razor-thin majority decision in 2018.
He was elite then and he’s elite now, a superb boxer and imaginative fighter who happens to have concussive power in both hands. After the loss to Alvarez, Golovkin blew out Steve Rolls and then won a harder-than-expected decision over Sergiy Derevyanchenko last year. That led many to speculate that Golovkin was nearing the end, but Golovkin was significantly ill before the fight. He fought a tough and motivated opponent at far less than his best and still came out on top.
“I thought he was fantastic,” said promoter Eddie Hearn, who nailed it. “I mean, he’s been out since last October. It’s difficult for these elite-level guys to come back after over a year out. I thought the jab was fantastic.”
Hearn is never afraid of hyperbole, but pretty much everything Golovkin did Friday was fantastic.
But he has been doing that for years, so there should be no shock that he did it a few months before his 39th birthday. He was in magnificent condition and displayed a little bit of everything in rolling to his 36th knockout victory.
Golovkin didn’t have much to say following the fight and didn’t call out Alvarez, who fights for a vacant super middleweight title on Saturday in San Antonio against unbeaten Callum Smith.
Asked who he thought would win Alvarez-Smith, Golovkin beamed and said, “The fans. Definitely the fans.”
A third fight with Alvarez makes a lot of sense, though if there are no fans allowed by the spring, it might be difficult to make that bout given the financial demands of the fighters.
But if we assume for a moment that money isn’t an issue — and let’s be honest, it’s always an issue — a third Alvarez-Golovkin fight would be highly appealing.
The two are as evenly matched as two superstar fighters could be, and even if it means they fight at super middleweight instead of middleweight, it would likely be another of those fights where fans of both have lumps in their throats while waiting for the verdict to be announced.
There were no nerves or doubts on Friday, though. Golovkin proved to whatever few doubters were out there that he’s far from through and that he’d be a dangerous opponent for anyone at 160 or 168.
Golovkin remains a star of the highest order, and anyone who doubts that simply isn’t paying close enough attention.
He’s been at this level for years, and looks like he’s closing in on his 29th instead of his 39th birthday. He remains now, as he has been for years, simply one of the greatest fighters of this or any generation.
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