-- NEW YORK -- Gennady Golovkin's already burgeoning legend will continue to grow after what he did to Daniel Geale on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin retained his middleweight world title for the 11th time as he blew away former middleweight titleholder Geale in the third round for an explosive ending to yet another dominant performance.
Geale was supposed to represent the stiffest test of Golovkin's career but proved no test at all. Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) dropped Geale (30-3, 16 KOs) in the second round and then dusted him in the third with a right hand. Geale made it to his feet, but he was all over the place on unsteady legs, and referee Michael Ortega stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 43 seconds.
"I walked over to Golovkin after the fight and I said, 'Whatever anyone said about you, you are better than that,'" said Gary Shaw, Geale's promoter. "In all my years in boxing, he's the best 160-pounder I've ever seen. He has all the tools and all the moves. I thought Geale could take him to a decision. The better man won tonight.
"There's nobody in 160, 154 and I'm not sure there's anyone at 168 who could be competitive with him for 12 rounds except maybe [super middleweight champion] Andre Ward."
Golovkin scored his 17th knockout in a row and has not had to go the distance since winning an eight-round decision in 2008.
Golovkin also raised his knockout ratio to 90 percent, best among the active titleholders in boxing as he electrified the crowd of 8,572 in his first main event in the Garden main arena after filling the smaller MSG Theater twice before.
"Tonight was a big step fighting in the arena and I'm happy to perform for the fans," Golovkin said. "I was patient in the first round and part of the second round, but once I figured him out I was able to attack aggressively. I knew it was a matter of time."
Then Golovkin made his intentions clear: "I am very happy and now I only want unification fights. I want [Miguel] Cotto."
Cotto, essentially the house fighter at the Garden for years, became the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight classes when he moved up to middleweight and stopped Sergio Martinez in the 10th round to win the lineal world championship at the Garden on June 7.
Like he usually does to his opponents, Golovkin, 32, of Kazakhstan, pressured Geale immediately by swinging right hands and left hooks as Geale tried to move side-to-side and basically do anything to avoid his power.
He had extra time to try, because for some reason, the first round lasted for four minutes instead of the standard three.
Geale, 33, of Australia, couldn't avoid Golovkin in the second round, getting knocked to the canvas under the pressure of a flurry of punches, including a left and a right that landed cleanly in the final seconds of the round.
Golovkin also opened a cut over Geale's right eye during the overwhelming second round.
It was just a matter of time until Golovkin was going to get him, and he got him in the third, landing a powerful right hand in an exchange right after Geale landed a right hand to Golovkin's forehead.
Geale beat Ortega's count and he tried to jog around to get his legs back under him, but he could not control his balance, and Ortega really had no other option but to stop the bout.
"He's quick. I think I fell into a couple of his traps," Geale said. "I was really disappointed in myself. Things were going right early on and I guess that's what happens when you relax a little bit. I got caught. I would have liked to go a few more rounds, but what can you do?"
For the fight, Golovkin landed 59 of 191 blows (29 percent), and Geale connected on 40 of 140 punches (29 percent).
"Gennady hit him with a jab in the second round and that was a telling point. Everybody gets hit at one point and it changes their demeanor and that's what happened when Geale felt that jab," said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin's trainer. "He was hit with a jab at the end of the second round and it changed him. It was difficult to time Geale because he was coming in and out, but Gennady hit him with a perfect shot and the fight was over."
Added Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Golovkin's promoter: "I don't think there's anyone at 160 who can go 12 rounds with Gennady. I think that 17-fight knockout streak will go on for a long time. Gennady wanted to put in a dominant performance. Geale was brave but he couldn't handle him."
Golovkin, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, fought in February and was supposed to return on April 26 to face Geale, but Geale could not secure the pay-per-view date in Australia due to a conflict with a UFC event that was already scheduled. Instead, Golovkin was then going to face Andy Lee, but withdrew from the fight following the untimely death of his father of a heart attack at age 68. He returned with a vengeance against Geale and now he wants to face Cotto to unify titles.
"I want to fight Miguel Cotto and I want to fight him next," Golovkin said. "I want prove to the world that without a doubt that I am the best middleweight in the world. That is very important to me."
Cotto is due back at the Garden in December and he has no opponent. Whether the fight can be made remains to be seen, but Freddie Roach, Cotto's trainer, was ringside to scout Golovkin, whom he had never seen fight before. After what he saw, it would be a surprise if he would endorse a Cotto-Golovkin fight.
But after Cotto stopped Martinez, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who promotes Cotto, said Golovkin could be a possibility. That was, of course, before Golovkin crushed Geale.
"We want the biggest name that will get in the ring with him," Loeffler said. "That's our target. Miguel had a great victory against Sergio. He and Gennady would be a huge fight at the Garden.
"There would be a big crowd, it would be a big pay-per-view and it would be a unification fight.
"Miguel Cotto put on a great performance and won the middleweight championship and showed he is a top middleweight. All Gennady wants to do is fight the best. We would make the terms financially attractive for Cotto to fight us. It's whether Cotto would get in the ring with him. Cotto is the champion, but Gennady is the best middleweight."
That is very hard to dispute.