The fans got more back and forth than many expected on Saturday evening, at Madison Square Garden, in the big room.
And then Gennadiy Golovkin did what the masses expected; in round four, a left hook–delivered in a south-paw stance– landed clean and down went Steve Rolls, a brave Canadian who landed some hard shots…but then paid the price when he couldn't beat the count.
A right hand got it going for GGG, age 37, and he sensed Rolls was buzzed. The loser tried to clinch but GGG wasn't having it–the Kazakh boxer, who now lives in LA, summoned up that Seven Nation Army by White Stripes theme song, because he closed the show in violent fashion in front of 12,000 plus rooters in the joint.
The end: 2:09 of the fourth saw Steve Willis wave his hands as Rolls mightily tried to stand but his body wouldn't cooperate.
The clash, pitting middleweights headed toward super middle, ran on the DAZN streaming platform, for those not present.
GGG last fought last September, losing in a tight one to Canelo Alvarez, his rival for the ages. Since then, he'd sought to shed his skin, and re-appear with a new identity. New spelling of his first name, new trainer, newly aggressive manner in managing and promoting himself…with part of that including being the recipient of a mega moolah deal from DAZN.
…came in having to know on paper he'd not been in with anyone near the level of a GGG; could he, would he channel the spirit of Andy Ruiz, who in this very building won the upset of the year and put the career of Anthony Joshua in a perhaps precarious place?
Rolls, promoted by Lou Dibella, debuted in 2011. He'd wanted step up fights, but, Dibella said, efforts to snag those bigger fish had proved fruitless, till now. Would this be a matter of, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it?
In the first, we saw a deliberate GGG, who didn't let rip till the 25 second mark. Then, in the closing stretch, two left hooks, one to the body, looked sharp and nasty. Rolls' hand speed looked so-so, and it was a feel out round for him.
In the second, GGG got caught clean twice. Once, his head got snapped back. His body work was solid, but he ate a jabbercut that the crowd couldn't believe. Solid action round.
In the third, it was a scrum. GGG pressed, hard, his hooks were short and sharp. A right landed clean on GGG and people thought: Ruiz. GGG scored late with a left hook to the body but Rolls' aggression was effective.
In the fourth, Rolls pumped a jab, and ate a right around the gloves. GGG was sneaking shots around the high guard. “Gotta work off the jab,” the Rolls corner yelled. A left hook, down he went….He didn't beat the count, after falling face first to the mat.
After, GGG said, “I love KOs, and I love NY, it was a great night all around. I'm ready to come back in September, I'm ready to bring back big drama show.”
OK, and who might be next? “We know who the fans want me to fight next,” he said, to a roar.
Trainer Johnathan Banks also spoke after: “It's always good to get a KO, I like what I saw in ring for the short amount of time we had in camp. We can do better in a full camp, but he's going in the right direction.”
NOTE: Two judges had it 3-0 GGG, and one had it 2-1. Ron McNair gave round two to the Canadian, and Joe Pasquale and Robin Taylor loved the GGG effort.