NEW YORK -- Now that he has taken care of his return to the ring in typical Triple G fashion, Gennady Golovkin can look ahead.
Well aware of the lesson Anthony Joshua learned in the same Madison Square Garden ring last weekend, Golovkin used a vicious left hand to prevent a second Garden shocker. In his first fight since his initial loss, last September to Canelo Alvarez, Golovkin knocked out Steve Rolls with 51 seconds remaining in the fourth round of their super middleweight fight Saturday night.
There were no titles on the line, and Triple G ensured there was no stunner like Andy Ruiz Jr.'s upset of Joshua for four heavyweight belts. Golovkin looked slow and tentative, perhaps rusty from the layoff, until he began landing regularly in the fourth round.
That massive left decked Rolls, who struggled to get up and clearly was in no condition to continue. Golovkin (39-1-1, 37 knockouts) previously had Rolls in trouble in the round thanks to a series of strong and quick combinations that looked like vintage Triple G.
"I love knockouts," Golovkin said. "I love New York.
"It was a great night all around. I'm ready to come back in September and bring back the big drama show."
That, of course, could be a third go-round with Alvarez, who owns the victory and the draw on Golovkin's record. Both are under contract to DAZN, which streamed Saturday night's bout, Golovkin's first without a championship involved since 2009, a span of 22 fights.
Asked in the ring who he wanted to fight next, the Kazakh star smiled widely as the crowd of 12,357 cheered.
"We know who the fans want me to fight next," he said.
Yes, perhaps, he can look to Alvarez-Golovkin III, probably the biggest money fight out there in a sport that could be filled with them over the next year.
Promoter Tom Loeffler is relatively certain that's where the middleweight division is headed.
"I know DAZN signed Triple G to make the third fight, that would be the marquee fight of their lineup," Loeffler said. "They are in the business of putting on the biggest fights. The Canelo fight is his biggest fight just as the Triple G fight is the biggest for Canelo. The fans are demanding they want to see a third fight.
"We will do everything on our side to make that fight. DAZN wants to make that fight. Both are bigger than whatever belts are around their waists. Those are mega-events."
Rolls, a Canadian in his first bout at the Garden — Golovkin is 6-0 here — sustained his first defeat after 19 wins. He looked particularly adept in Round 2, when he was by far the busier and more accurate fighter. Still, two judges gave that round to Triple G.
No matter. Golovkin found the range with both hands in the third round, and after that it looked like the Triple G who ruled the ring for nearly a decade until his two extremely close bouts with Alvarez.
So no historic upset in a building that has seen so many of them. Unlike Joshua, who appeared to be looking ahead in the buildup to Ruiz and then took his first loss, Golovkin was focused only on Rolls, who at 35 is only two years younger than Golovkin and was stepping way up in class.
Golovkin weighed 163 pounds in his first fight with trainer Johnathan Banks, who liked what he saw — particularly in the lopsided fourth round.
"It's always good to get a knockout," Banks said. "We're going in the right direction."
In the featured undercard bout, Ali Akhmedov, a rising star from Kazakhstan, stopped Marcus McDaniel in the third round with a series of hard rights that stunned the American. Akhmedov is now 15-0 with 11 knockouts and is someone to reckon with in the super middleweight division.
It was the second fight for McDaniel since he was shot and injured in a drive-by shooting in his native New Orleans nine months ago. He had won his first 15.