Gennady Golovkin's HBO and U.S. debut couldn't have gone much better tonight, as he smashed former European middleweight champion Grzegorz Proksa, flooring his opponent three times en route to a fifth round stoppage.
Golovkin (24-0, 21 KO) was a bulldozer with a wrecking ball attached tonight, plowing through the game and very brave Proksa (28-2, 21 KO) who sure as hell came to win, but pretty quickly found out what a gargantuan task that would be. He was down in the first, though it may have been more a slip -- either way, he was hurt. And though he landed some shots and did some fine work of his own, Golovkin's concrete fists were the clear difference in the fight. His shots moved Proksa consistently, while Proksa couldn't really budge his foe.
Golovkin, 30, retains his "regular" WBA middleweight title, which in theory would put him in line for a shot against new "super champion" Daniel Geale, who defeated Felix Sturm earlier on Saturday in Germany.
What's clear is that this is a fighter who has the potential to become a serious player in the division. His previously weak opposition hadn't entirely sold me on that, and I'm certainly not saying Proksa is an elite fighter, but he's quite good, and Golovkin just destroyed him tonight. This is a guy who deserves a major fight as much as anyone does -- his win over Proksa is as good as any of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr's wins, for instance. (And that's not meant to be a shot at Chavez, either.)
Proksa will have to go back to the drawing board, obviously. He showed a few things tonight that could make him a mainstay at the weight -- he's got talent, but needs refining still, and most notable, he's got a load of heart. Golovkin was beating the shit out of him, and he tried to stay on his feet. When he went down, he got up. The referee had to make the (right) call to save him from himself. He came here to win this fight and to make his own name. He just couldn't do it, but he fell short against what looks like a possible star-level fighter, too.
One thing's for sure: The middleweight division got a shake-up today, and it just got a lot more interesting. And after watching their fights back to back, I think it's pretty easy to understand, frankly, why Felix Sturm didn't want anything to do with Gennady Golovkin.