NEW YORK - No big drama this time for Gennady Golovkin. Just a lot of big punches as he dominated his middleweight title fight with David Lemieux.
Golovkin battered Lemieux around the ring Saturday night on the big stage at Madison Square Garden, landing punch after punch before the referee mercifully stepped in and stopped the fight in the eighth round. He remained unbeaten in 34 fights, and stopped his opponent for the 21st straight time.
Fighting before a sold-out crowd of 20,548 cheering his every move, Golovkin was methodical as he knocked down Lemieux in the fifth round, bloodied his nose and dominated almost every second of the way.
"My goal is all the belts in the middleweight division," said Golovkin, who said before the fight he would bring a "Big Drama Show" to the Garden.
Lemieux was on the ropes taking punch after punch when Steve Willis finally stepped in at 1:32 of the eighth round to call an end to the fight.
It was a coming out party of sorts for Golovkin, who was headlining his first pay-per-view fight, and he was at his best as he wore down Lemieux with his relentless punching.
"I told you this was a very important fight," Golovkin said. "I give my fans and friends a big show. Thank you my fans. Thank you my people."
With the crowd chanting "Triple G! Triple G!" Golovkin showed why he is the most feared man in the middleweight division with yet another impressive win against an opponent who was supposed to be his best yet. He won every round on all three ringside scorecards, pitching a shutout in his biggest fight to date.
Lemieux brought a 160 pound title of his own into the ring, but was no match for Golovkin, the former amateur star from Kazakhstan who now lives in Los Angeles. Lemieux fought gamely, but his punches were mostly wild and he was forced to take punishment in return.
"I'll keep my mouth shut tonight," said Lemieux, whose face was marked and red. "But I'll see him in the future."
With Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump watching from ringside, Golovkin took control of the fight early, with his precise punches finding the mark with regularity. Lemieux seemed tentative, though by the third round he was throwing wild right hands that Golovkin had little trouble avoiding.
Golovkin (34-0, 31 knockouts) hurt Lemieux with a left hook to the head in the fourth round, then unleashed a series of head shots that backed the Canadian against the ropes. From then it was just a matter of time as Golovkin hunted down Lemieux (34-3), eager to knock him out just like he had his 20 previous opponents.
The end came in the eighth round after a series of punches to the body and the head.
"I feel like the referee called the fight too early," Lemieux said. "I am fine. When he stopped it I wasn't event on the mat, I can keep going."
About the only negative on the night for Golovkin was that he hit Lemieux with a right hand while he had a knee on the canvas after going down from a left hook to the body in the fifth round.
Punch stats showed Golovkin landing 280 of 549 punches, a connect rate of 51 percent. Lemieux was credited with landing just 89 of 335 punches.
The win put Golovkin in line for a possible megafight next spring against the winner of the Nov. 21 fight between Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto.
"He'll be at the fight and he'll be looking to fight the winner," promoter Tom Loeffler said. "Whoever wins that fight will clearly be at the top of the sport as Gennady is himself."
Golovkin said his goals are simple and that he's not as concerned with making the kind of money Floyd Mayweather Jr. made on pay-per-view as he is proving he is the best fighter in the world.
In the co-main event, Roman Gonzalez remained unbeaten by stopping a game but overmatched Brian Viloria in the ninth round of their flyweight title fight.
Gonzalez upped his record to 44-0 with 38 knockouts with yet another impressive performance by a fighter many believe is the best pound-for-pound boxer in the game. The Nicaraguan who goes by the nickname Chocolatito dropped Viloria in the third round and pounded him around the ring before referee Benji Esteves moved in to stop it at 2:53 of the third round.
Viloria, a former U.S. Olympian and 112-pound champion, was still fighting hard in the final round but had absorbed tremendous punishment. The left side of his face was swollen and marked from the sheer volume of punches landed by Gonzalez.
Ringside punch stats showed his dominance, crediting Gonzalez with landing 315 punches to 161 for Viloria, who dropped to 36-5.