You can't blame Daniel Geale for indulging the urge to admire his handiwork after he clocked Gennady Golovkin with a right hand that came right down the pipe late in the third round of their middleweight title fight Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. After all, how many times do you get the opportunity to connect like that against Golovkin?
But what a mistake.
Geale didn't have to wait long to see how Golovkin would respond. The reigning WBA and IBO champion came back instantly with his own right hand straight to Geale's nose but a whole lot harder. The next thing Geale knew, he was looking up at the Garden lights as referee Michael Ortega waved it to a halt at 2:47 of the third round.
It marked the 17th straight stoppage by Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) and the second time in the fight that former IBF champion Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) was down in the fight. He also hit the canvas in the second round after a series of sharp rights by Golovkin.
Before the fight, Golovkin downplayed the importance of his KO streak, but once it was in the books, he admitted, "Yes, the knockout is very important."
It was Golovkin's third Garden appearance but his first in the main arena, which only was open in a 9,000-seat configuration from the luxury box level on the mezzanine down to the bottom bowl. Official attendance was 8,572. A month earlier, the full arena was packed with about 19,000 for Miguel Cotto's upset of Sergio Martinez for the WBC title.
Puerto Rican Cotto has a long-standing following at the Garden, but Golovkin certainly is growing in stature with his displays of impressive power. Asked in the ring about his plans, Golovkin said, "I'm very happy with my performance. I want unification fights."
Pressed to name the foe he wants the most, Golovkin admitted, "I want Miguel Cotto."
If Cotto was watching, he knows Golovkin is a whole lot of trouble for anyone across from him. Golovkin put on pressure in the opening round, controlling Geale with his jab and cutting off ring expertly. Geale slipped, tripping over a ringside cameraman while he was trying to get away from Golovkin.
In the second, Golovkin scored with several combinations early. Australian Geale collapsed to the canvas for the first time after a series of hard right hands from Golovkin.
Early in the third round, Geale made Golovkin miss a couple of times and then proceeded to mug in front of him. That must have stirred the rage in the bull from Kazakhstan. Emboldened by his momentary success, Geale tried to trade and paid for it big-time.
Geale's promoter, Gary Shaw, said he thought his man could go the distance, but Golovkin changed his mind in a hurry. "That's the best 160-pounder I've ever seen, and I've been in boxing since the 1970s," Shaw said.
"Golovkin is great. He's got all the tools, all the power. Nobody can beat him at 160."
Loeffler repeated his comments from the Wednesday news conference, saying Golovkin would "accept the 'B' side or even the 'C' side" to fight Cotto. "It would be a great unification fight," Loeffler said. "What would be a bigger fight at the Garden? It's an electric fight."
Notes & quotes: Philadelphia's Bryant Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) won a 12-round split decision over Mike Perez (20-1-1, 12 KOs), a Cuban fighting out of Ireland, in a WBC heavyweight title eliminator. Referee Harry Dock deducted a point from Perez for a foul in 12th, and that was deciding point on 114-113 third card for Jennings, preventing a draw. One judge favored Perez 114-113, and one favored Jennings 115-112, so those cards were not affected by deduction.