Gennady Golovkin just what boxing needs right now, more thoughts
NEW YORK -- Five things we learned from Saturday's world championship tripleheader at the Theater at Madison Square Garden ...
• Gennady Golovkin is just what boxing needs right when it needs it. The buzziest fighter in boxing retained his WBA middleweight title with a seventh-round knockout of Gabriel Rosado, bloodying the North Philadelphia challenger until the ringside doctor had no choice but to intervene. Golovkin (25-0, 22 KOs), a YouTube sensation who was unknown to all but the most hardcore fans until last year, opened up a cut under Rosado's left eye in the second round and used his rare combination of technique, accuracy and heavy-handed punching to finish off his opponent. Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs) showed himself to be a competent, brave foil, yet he was outclassed and left appearing like an extra from a Lucio Fulci film against a fighter no one in the 160-pound division wants anything to do with. For a sport with a supposed problem developing new stars, the stateside emergence of Golovkin as a middleweight terror couldn't have come at a better time.
• Mikey Garcia showed he's the real deal. The main event of the tripleheader -- a crossroads fight almost by definition -- saw Garcia outpoint Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight title in a technical decision that went to the scorecards after an accidental head butt fractured Garcia's nose in the eighth round. The late-blooming Salido (39-12-12, 27 KOs) had blasted his way onto SI.com's pound-for-pound list with a pair of crushing knockout wins over Juan Manuel Lopez last year. Yet he proved no match for the 25-year-old Garcia, who's developed into one of the sport's most fancied prospects while being matched carefully against C-level competition. On Saturday, the Oxnard, Calif., product -- and younger brother of celebrated trainer Robert Garcia -- passed his first major test with brio. Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs) dropped Salido twice in the first, once in the third and once more in the fourth, flummoxing Salido with speed and lateral movement. Next for Garcia could be a shot with Yuriorkis Gamboa, whom he called out after the fight.
• Juan Carlos Burgos proved he's a TV fighter. Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KOs) was the mandatory challenger for Rocky Martinez's 130-pound title in Saturday's first fight and many at ringside thought he did enough to win the belt. The 25-year-old from Tijuana connected on 286 of 805 punches (36 percent), compared to 193 of 827 (23 percent) for Martinez. He boxed aggressively early and controlled the pace with thudding body work, yet Martinez stayed active enough for the fight to be ruled a split draw. The disappointing result notwithstanding, Burgos' entertaining performance no doubt impressed HBO and augurs well for future opportunities. "Burgos is a big, strong difficult guy to fight; the last three rounds were very difficult," said Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs), who retained his belt and remains Puerto Rico's only major titleholder. "But I thought I won at least eight rounds. I know he thought he won and they will ask for a rematch. No problem."
• The Golovkin fight nearly didn't happen. When the flu struck Golovkin earlier this week -- rendering the champion bedridden as late as Thursday -- talks of cancelling Saturday's fight began in private. Yet Golovkin's condition improved after he ate dinner following Friday's weigh-in and the fight went on. Golovkin is a seek-and-destroy fighter at his best in attack. While Rosado initially stuck to the game plan of unpredictable movement and keeping his back off the ropes, the challenger enjoyed his best moments when he put his punches together in the fourth round and had Golovkin moving backwards. Yet the striking disparity in power -- think light arms vs. weapons-grade -- ultimately spelled Rosado's doom. "It's true that I was sick this week, but there's no excuses," Golovkin said afterward. "I felt good with my power and I wore him down in the fifth and sixth. This was not a statement for me, but it's a win."
• Salido made Garcia earn it. Even as Garcia mounted an overwhelming lead on the scorecards, changing angles, rhythm and punches to keep his opponent guessing, Salido did not seem hurt and kept moving forward -- a hard-nosed vet living up to his Mexican warrior archetype. "I was beating him up," Garcia said. "We had a game plan and it was working perfectly, [then] he drove his head into my face and I felt a flash of pain. If I could breathe better I would have kept fighting." Still, the ringside doctor's decision to stop the fight -- while unpopular with the near-sellout crowd of 4,850 -- was the correct one. "We went up to check him and his nose was very broken," Dr. Robert Polofsky said. "He couldn't breathe and it was too dangerous to have him continue to fight like that."