With his speedy, shifty, hands-below-the-waist southpaw style, Grezgorz Proksa prompted HBO analyst Max Kellerman to declare during the first round of his fight with Gennady Golovkin that he was "doing a pretty fair Sergio Martinez impersonation." So Golovkin went out and did a pretty fair impersonation of a guy Martinez might want to steer clear of.
Making his American debut and his HBO debut amid passionate hype from the YouTube-scouring hardcore boxing community, the Kazakhstan-born, Germany-based Golovkin did not disappoint. He knocked down the brave but overmatched Proksa three times in five rounds at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, prompting a perfectly timed stoppage at the 1:11 mark of the fifth from referee Charlie Fitch.
A few hours earlier in Germany, Daniel Geale upset Felix Sturm to unify a couple of alphabet belts at 160 pounds. In two weeks, Martinez will defend the lineal title against another beltholder, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The best are fighting the best right now at middleweight. And Golovkin now must be considered among the best and a viable option for the Martinez-Chavez victor.
Proksa (28-2, 21 KOs) came in with decent credentials of his own, most notably a three-round blowout of Sebastian Sylvester in 2011, but Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs) dominated the Polish lefty from the start. In the final minute of the first round, "GGG" wobbled Proksa with a short left hook, then forced him to the canvas with a follow-up combination. Fighting in a style reminiscent of a slightly more fluid Kostya Tszyu, Golovkin found over the next couple of rounds that he couldn't miss Proksa with his straight right hand. Proksa did some decent work himself with his sneaky straight left, but the variety in Golovkin's arsenal--including wicked uppercuts with both hand--and natural power were just too much for him.
Midway through round four, Golovkin froze Proksa with a left to the body, came upstairs with a left uppercut to the chin, then dropped the Pole with a left-right combination. After beating the count, Proksa struggled to find his balance and slipped to the canvas, then held Golovkin and prayed for the round clock to hurry its way to three minutes. But Proksa could only delay the inevitable for so long. Golovkin hurt him with a thudding right hand in the fifth, unleashed a combination, and crushed Proksa with a left hook that sent him to the canvas like a man trying to slide headfirst into second base after nearly overrunning it. Proksa again beat Fitch's count, but the referee recognized the look of a beaten man and waved off the fight.
"Proksa is seriously good fighter, he's strong," Golovkin declared in his still-developing English after the fight. "Not easy fight for me today ... I know first round, I see, I feel I'm better." Kellerman asked if it was true that Golovkin was calling out every elite fighter from junior middleweight to super middleweight. "I'm ready. Everybody," Golovkin insisted.
The attention of the boxing world is focused on Martinez vs. Chavez for now, as it should be. But it's nice to go into a major fight knowing that there are other potential major fights in the division once it's over, and that's where Golovkin comes in. Though somewhat untested as a pro, Golovkin was a decorated amateur who won the silver medal in Athens in '04 (defeating American Andre Dirrell in the semifinal round) and who looks like a finished product at age 30. Whether or not you believe he can beat the Martinez-Chavez winner, Golovkin is by all indications ready to compete with either man.
The heavy-handed Kazakh will be an interested observer on Sept. 15. And there will be that many more interested observers on Sept. 15 in general, with Golovkin having raised the stakes and injected added intrigue into the 160-pound title picture.
In the co-feature to Golovkin's win over Proksa, there were no winners, literally and figuratively, as veteran Sergei Dzinziruk and prospect Jonathan Gonzalez battled to a split draw. It was a tough fight to score--and not an especially easy fight to watch--in which Dzinziruk had a clear jabbing advantage, Gonzalez had a clear advantage in powerpunching, and most of the rounds ended with neither man holding a clear advantage. Gonzalez was the bigger man after missing the 154-pound weight limit by a whopping nine pounds at Friday's weigh in, but neither fighter established himself as the better man over the course of 12 rounds. Gonzalez (15-0-1, 13 KOs) won 117-111 on judge Tom Shreck's card, Dzinziruk (36-1-1, 24 KOs) was favored 115-113 on Wynn Kintz's, and Don Ackerman had it 114-114.
Sometimes dead-even scorecards are a perfect excuse to stage a rematch. This isn't one of those times.