Gennady Golovkin defended his IBF middleweight belt for a record 21st time on Saturday, knocking down previously unbeaten Kamil Szeremeta four times before their fight was stopped after the seventh round.
Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) surpassed Bernard Hopkins’ division record for title defences and retained his IBF and IBO 160-pound belts with a one-sided victory in his first fight in 14 months.
The Kazakh star ended the longest ring absence of his 14-year professional career with a systematic dismantling of Poland’s Szeremeta (21-1) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The 38-year-old Golovkin accepted this mandatory title defence to get back in the ring after a lengthy stretch of inactivity. He also returned to a measure of his dominant form against Szeremeta, who was gamely overmatched.
Golovkin started out with an effective jab that evoked memories of his best years in the ring, and he knocked down Szeremeta with a low left hand in the final instants of the first round.
Golovkin floored Szeremeta again in the second round with a devastating right hand, moving crisply and landing power punches at will.
Szeremeta kept fighting, but couldn’t trouble Golovkin with many of his punches. He was knocked down again in the fourth round, and Golovkin toyed with his opponent for the next three rounds despite failing to land a decisive punch.
Golovkin appeared to be tiring slightly in the sixth and seventh rounds, but the referee waved off the bout after Szeremeta was unable to mount any significant attacks while taking major damage.
Despite Golovkin’s impressive performance in the ring, fans on social media were quick to point out the obvious mismatch with the Kazakh star clearly a level above his mandatory opponent.
Golovkin was back in the ring for the first time since he beat Steve Rolls and Sergiy Deveryanchenko in 2019 after firing longtime trainer Abel Sanchez. Golovkin didn’t look as sharp last year as he did in his two famously close fights with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2017 and 2018.
The 31-year-old Szeremeta was Golovkin’s mandatory opponent, but he was also an ideal matchup for Golovkin if the champ wanted to reclaim some of his mojo. Szeremeta has only five stoppage victories on his record, and he had fought outside of Poland just three times professionally.