by Kieran Mulvaney
Daniel Geale was supposed to give Gennady Golovkin his toughest challenge yet. Instead he ended up the Kazakh's latest victim.
The middleweight champion overcame a spirited challenge to drop the Australian twice and raise the question anew of who in the middleweight division can survive his heavy-handed assault. The nature of the conclusive punch also left ringside observers shaking their heads at what Golovkin might produce next.
Geale, himself a former middleweight titlist, had the right idea. He was busy from the opening bell, moving from side to side, firing a fast jab, trying not to stand in front of Golovkin, but taking the opportunity to land left hooks and overhand rights behind his jab whenever possible. But Golovkin needs little invitation to land his vaunted punches, and a right hand behind a left hook sent Geale into the corner. Geale, showing a confidence bordering on foolishness, dropped his hands to show he was unhurt. Golovkin landed another pair of thudding punches, but Geale - after falling to the canvas as the result of slipping on a ringside camera strap - responded with a right hand of his own to underline his determination to be more than cannon fodder.
Golovkin came out firing in the second round (on the heels of a first one that lasted, oddly, for four minutes), and a straight right that landed with Geale's back against the ropes clearly hurt the Australian. He remained on his feet, but a follow-up barrage was enough to put him down. He rose, seemingly unhurt, and returned to the attack, landing sharp combinations but catching a counter uppercut from the champion for his trouble.
By the third round, Geale was still showing good defensive movement, but Golovkin's thudding punches were clearly taking their toll, leading the Australian's punch output to drop drastically. He did, however, have one last strong punch in him; it just so happened that throwing it led to his demise. He backed to the ropes and uncorked a right hand that landed flush, but Golovkin, even as he was on his back foot from Geale's punch, coiled to throw a right of his own. It landed on Geale's chin, and a follow-up left hook dropped the challenger to his back.
Geale was on his feet in a couple of seconds, but it was immediately apparent that the effects of the punch were continuing to make their way through his system. He staggered backward drunkenly, tried to walk it off as referee Michael Ortega administered a count, walked from one side of the ring to the other, failed to raise his hands when instructed by Ortega, and then shook his head to signify he was done.
It was Golovkin's seventeenth consecutive knockout win, and his twenty-seventh in 30 outings, raising his career KO rate to 90 percent.
Golovkin, as ever, was succinct in his summation.
"I was very happy with my performance," he said. "From now on I want only unification fights."
"There are a lot of fighters who can punch but can't take a shot," said Golovkin's promoter Tom Loeffler afterward. "Gennady has shown he can do both. Geale can punch. You saw he put Darren Barker down with a body shot. Gennady is very confident and very collected. He fought a very confident fight and slowly tracked him down."
Slowly, of course, is a relative term. Barely 15 minutes after entering the ring, Geale was back in the locker room wondering what had hit him, and a boxing audience was left wondering what, and who might be next.