It has been almost a year since we last saw Gennady Golovkin in a boxing ring, and there is little indication we will see the former middleweight champion again anytime soon. After surrendering his alphabet belts rather than satisfy his mandatory defenses against uninspiring opponents, the future Hall-of-Famer from Kazakhstan may be waiting for one big final payday that can fire up his competitive juices; alternatively, it is possible he is sliding inexorably into retirement. He is, after all, 41 years old now, and it has been 11 years since he first appeared on HBO with a five-round thumping of Gregorz Proksa.
At his peak, Golovkin was must-see entertainment, as he bashed and bludgeoned his way through an overmatched middleweight division. Between a June 2008 eight-round win over human trivia answer Amar Amari and a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Jacobs, Golovkin racked up an impressive 23-fight knockout streak that marked him as one of the most feared punchers in boxing.
Here, in reverse chronological order, are six of the best Golovkin KO wins:
David Lemieux TKO 8, Madison Square Garden, New York, October 17, 2015
Not a highlight reel knockout – referee Steve Willis stepped in to save Lemieux in the eighth with the Canadian still on his feet, albeit having suffered two fifth-round knockdowns – but perhaps Golovkin’s best all-round performance. The hard-punching Lemieux had been unbeaten since 2011, and his nine-fight win streak including seven stoppages; but he was no match for the imperious Kazakh, who won every round on all three scorecards while barely breaking a sweat en route to making his 15th successful defense of a middleweight title.
Martin Murray TKO 11, Salle des Etoiles, Monte Carlo, February 21, 2015
Golovkin’s first title defense of 2015 saw him entertain the glamorous set – plus a selection of rowdy Murray supporters – in this typically dominant defense on an atypically rainy night in Monaco. Murray’s only previous loss was on points to Sergio Martinez in Martinez’s native Argentina; he knocked Martinez down on that occasion but barely laid a glove on Golovkin this time. When Murray did open up and have some success in the 10th, it only left him open for a Golovkin counterpunch that put him down for the third time in the contest – he had also been down twice in the fourth – and when GGG backed the Englishman to the ropes and unloaded in the 11th., referee Luis Pabon saved Murray from further punishment.
Marco Antonio Rubio KO2, StubHub Center, Carson, California, October 18, 2014
This was a pivotal moment in Golovkin’s rise to stardom; despite the fact he was facing a Mexican in southern California, he was the overwhelming favorite of a crowd that featured an abundance of “Mexicans for GGG” caps. Rubio was swatted aside with contemptuous ease as Golovkin, trying out an assortment of punches from all angles to pierce his opponent’s defense, ultimately landed on a left hand to the top of Rubio’s head, which sent his challenger down flat along the ropes and unable to beat the count.
Daniel Geale TKO 3, Madison Square Garden, New York, July 26, 2014
Poor Daniel Geale. As if it wasn’t hard enough, taking on a Golovkin in his prime, the Australian also had to contend with a four-minute first round and an errant camera strap from a ringside photographer that caused him to stumble. Gealed tried his best to stay off the ropes, but Golovkin’s exceptional footwork kept cutting off the ring and trapping him there. Then, when Geale threw a right hand in the third, Golovkin responded even as Geale’s punch was landing on his face, launching his own right hand that sent Geale to the canvas. The challenger beat the count but was unsteady, and a quick shake of the head was all referee Mike Ortega needed to wave it off.
Matthew Macklin KO3, MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, June 29, 2013
A breathtaking KO, in more ways than one. Golovkin easily won the first round and opened a cut on Macklin’s face in the second, prompting Macklin to go toe-to-toe in the third. Golovkin took advantage of the exchanges to throw a couple of distracting punches to the head before switching to the body with a devastating hook that dropped Macklin instantly, breaking two of his ribs and leaving him writhing in pain as referee Eddie Cotton counted to 10. “That is not normal,” said HBO’s Max Kellerman. “What we have just seen is not ordinary.”
Nobuhiro Ishida KO3, Salle des Etoiles, Monte Carlo, March 30, 2013
Ishida was two years and three fights removed from stopping James Kirkland inside a round, but he was no match for Golovkin’s power. After a creditable effort in the first round, Ishida began shipping right hands in the second, and in the third, a short right exploded on the Japanese fighter’s jaw, instantly knocking him out cold and sending him crashing to the mat with his head suspended over the bottom rope. Referee Stanley Christodoulou waved the fight off without a count.
“Thank you, everybody,” said Golovkin. “I’m very happy today.” It was a while before Ishida even knew where he was.