There was no upset in this one as Gennady Golovkin (39-1-, 34 KOs) got back to his winning ways in stopping no-hoper Steve Rolls (19-1, 10 KOs) in the fourth round on Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. There were no titles on the line and GGG took care not to commit the same error that Anthony Joshua made last weekend in his stunning loss to Andy Ruiz Jr.
The former unified middleweight king dropped Rolls flat on his face with a crushing left hook to the head. The Canadian struggled mightily to get up but was in no condition to continue as the referee wisely waived off the action with just 51 seconds remaining in the fourth.
Although the power was on full display, it was not quite the statement performance needed to get astute boxing fans clamoring for a third installment with Canelo Alvarez. Golovkin, 37, looked a bit flat perhaps a bit rusty from the long layoff following his September decision defeat to Alvarez.
He was repeatedly nailed with hard shots from Rolls, who got the better of their exchanges in the early going and repeatedly beat the former champion to the punch. He wasn’t letting his hands go and the speed he exhibited in training footage was virtually non-existent. The game plan to throw more punches under new trainer Johnathon Banks was also noticeably absent.
Rolls gave a decent account of himself despite suffering the first loss of his career in devastating fashion. He was the busier and more accurate fighter for much of the night taking advantage of Golovkin’s slow and tentative start. The challenger held his ground even going toe-to-toe with Golovkin at times and backing him up briefly in the second round.
Golovkin finally started to catch up with Rolls in the third round as he began to find his range. He particularly punished Rolls with hard shots to the body that would eventually set-up the knockout blow in the following round. The former champion really applied the pressure to begin the fourth in typical GGG fashion and would later deliver the two overhand lefts, the last one which caught Rolls on the chin to end matters.
It was the first bout for GGG after signing a three-year, six-fight deal with DAZN worth $100 million.
“I love knockouts, “Golovkin said. “I love New York.”
“It was a great night all around. I’m ready to come back in September and bring back the big drama show.”
Attention quickly turned to the Kazakhstan’s future as he was asked who he wanted to fight next to which; he flashed a smile to a cheering crowd of 12,357.
“We know who the fans want me to fight next,” he said.
That of course would be no other than the aforementioned Alvarez, who owns a victory over Golovkin and a draw. Both were controversial with many still believing that Golovkin won and should have retained his unbeaten record. The fighters are under contract with DAZN and could conceivably meet for a third time within a year.
Trainer Jonathon Banks seemed to like what he saw. “It’s always good to get a knockout. We’re going in the right direction. “
Well, time will certainly prove whether that is true but Team Golovkin can be forgiven for the hiccups we saw tonight, especially when you boast fight-ending power like that.
The featured undercard bout showcased fellow Kazakhstan and rising star Ali Akhmedov, who stopped American Marcus McDaniel in the third round with a bevy of crushing right hands. Akhmedov improves to 15-0 with 11 knockouts and is quickly becoming a force within the stacked super middleweight division.
Overall, it was an exciting and equally devastating night of boxing.