Message received, Gennadiy Golovkin.
If the 38-year-old wanted to show he remains capable of displaying some of the most masterful performances in boxing, he did that Friday night. Golovkin’s technical prowess was on full display in a seventh-round stoppage victory over Kamil Szeremeta in Hollywood, Florida, to defend his IBF middleweight title.
Golovkin set the record for the most title defenses by a middleweight in boxing history (21). But more importantly for his career, he had the type of outing that showed he is worthy of facing some of the sport’s top names, including a potential third fight against Canelo Alvarez.
“He’s got plenty more gas in the tank,” Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn told DAZN in the postfight interview. “The most exciting boxer in world boxing, still. Devastating power in both hands. We want to see him in the megafights next year.”
In his first fight in 14 months, Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) knocked Szeremeta down four times in an onslaught that started at the fight’s outset. The champion sent Szeremeta to the canvas at the end of the first round with an uppercut followed by a left hand over the top.
From there, Golovkin overwhelmed Szeremeta (21-2-0, 5 KOs), the mandatory challenger out of Poland who was fighting in the United States for only the second time in his career. Golovkin’s final knockdown came off a jab in the seventh, a testament to his dominance throughout the night.
The middleweight champ, a native of Kazakhstan, scored two knockdowns in the first three rounds for the first time since April 2016, when he knocked out Dominic Wade in the second round, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
In five of the seven rounds, Golovkin landed more power punches than jabs, according to CompuBox numbers. He connected on 56.5% of those shots.
However, the jab set up Golovkin’s big shots throughout the night and was a point of emphasis in his third fight with trainer Johnathon Banks. For most of Golovkin’s reign as a middleweight, he was known as a violent power puncher who sought knockouts. Banks sought to change that.
“They turned him into a one-trick pony,” Banks told ESPN before the fight regarding Golovkin’s previous trainer. “That’s all he was known for, is just the knockout power. But he’s a beautiful boxer. He’s got beautiful movements. That’s what I wanted to go. I wanted to open back Pandora’s box.”
After knockdowns in the first and second rounds, Golovkin remained measured with his punches. In between the seventh and eighth rounds, referee Telis Assimenios walked over to Szeremeta’s corner and stopped the bout.
During his postfight interview with DAZN, Golovkin said the late finish was by design.
“I feel my jab,” Golovkin said. “I feel my power. I feel my timing, my distance. I needed a little bit more time. OK, if I’m finishing [in the] second round, maybe too early. I want to bring more people to TV.”
Golovkin stepped into the ring roughly 24 hours before Alvarez fights Callum Smith in San Antonio for the WBC and WBA super middleweight titles. Ever since Golovkin started fighting on DAZN, there has been rampant speculation about a potential third fight between the two men.
The first two bouts settled little between them. A 2017 bout was deemed a controversial draw, while Alvarez squeaked out a majority decision in 2018 by two combined points.
Hearn said Golovkin will dictate what’s next for his career. Golovkin promised something big after his stoppage win against an overmatched Szeremeta.
“Trust me, guys,” Golovkin said. “We [will] bring the best fight for next time.”