CARSON, Calif. -- Gennady Golovkin, boxing's most devastating knockout artist and biggest rising star, delivered yet another crushing KO as he drilled Marco Antonio Rubio in the second round to retain his middleweight world title Saturday night at the StubHub Center.
Golovkin entered the ring to cheers from the standing room-only crowd of 9,323 that turned out for his first appearance on the West Coast, and it was treated to a huge knockout, his 18th in a row.
Rubio took a few good shots in the first round, including a hard right hand near the end of the round that snapped his head back. Then he was a sitting duck in the second round as Golovkin began to really open up with right hands and left hooks to the head. A right hand and a left uppercut rocked Rubio, who staggered backward before Golovkin landed a heavy left hand to the temple, and Rubio crumbled to the mat.
He tried to get to his feet but could not do it in time, as referee Jack Reiss counted him out at 1 minute, 19 seconds.
"The uppercut -- he was very badly hurt, and I knew I had him," said Golovkin, who endeared himself even more to the heavily Mexican crowd by speaking a little in Spanish. "I was happy he came forward. He fought Mexican style and he tried to hurt me, but my power was too much for him tonight."
Added Rubio (59-7-1, 51 KOs), 34, of Mexico: "I came to fight and to put on a good show for the fans. I got up, but the referee decided to stop it."
Golovkin retained his 160-pound title for the 12th time, tying him for third place on the all-time list for most middleweight title defenses. He is tied with Hall of Famer Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Felix Sturm, who avoided Golovkin for years when he was his mandatory challenger. Hall of Famer Carlos Monzon made 14 defenses and Bernard Hopkins, who is still active at age 49 and now a unified light heavyweight titleholder, owns the record with 20.
The knockout also helped Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) raise his knockout percentage to the best among active titleholders at 90.3 percent.
Rubio was not eligible to win Golovkin's title and also was stripped of his interim belt when he failed to make weight at Friday's weigh-in. He was 161.8 pounds, 1.8 over the middleweight division limit. He had to forfeit $100,000 of his $450,000 purse to Golovkin, whose base purse was raised to $900,000 (although he will earn more through his promotional company).
But Golovkin won the vacant interim title to add to his own world title. Normally, the interim belt would not mean much, but in this case it was strategic for Golovkin to go after it. By winning it he is now the mandatory challenger for world champion Miguel Cotto. Cotto is likely to fight Mexican star Canelo Alvarez in May, with the winner of that fight obligated to face Golovkin or forfeit the belt.
"This puts Gennady in for a mandatory [fight] with the winner of that [likely] fight," said Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, which represents Golovkin. "That was our strategy for fighting Rubio, besides the fact that as a Mexican this was the perfect location for the fight, and Gennady put on a great performance.
"Gennady is not going to pull any punches. Rubio went 12 rounds with [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. and you saw he went two rounds with Gennady. He's at a whole different level than anyone else in the middleweight division."
It has been very difficult for Golovkin -- who is willing to fight at middleweight or super middleweight -- to get any of the elite fighters to face him. Cotto and Alvarez are likely to face each other. Super middleweight champion Andre Ward is inactive and has not shown any interest. Chavez Jr. was supposed to fight him on pay-per-view in July but pulled out of the fight. Others, such as super middleweight titlist Carl Froch or former middleweight titlist Peter Quillin, also have not shown any interest.
"All he can do is his best against the guys willing to get in the ring with him, and Rubio was the guy willing to," Loeffler said.
Golovkin is likely to return in February in Monte Carlo, where he has fought twice before, although his opponent has not been determined.
"Unless Chavez agrees to fight him on pay-per-view. Then we'll change our plans," Loeffler said.
Golovkin, 32, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan who lives in Germany and is in the process of relocating to Los Angeles, had fought all five of his American bouts on the East Coast. But after the overwhelming reception in Southern California -- StubHub officials added hundreds of temporary bleacher seats to accommodate the GGG mania -- he will be back.
"This is my second home. I can't wait to fight here again. It was a great experience," Golovkin said. "I want to fight again as soon as possible."
So Golovkin will likely head to Europe and then return for another fight in the United States in the spring, ideally against a better grade of opponent than Rubio. That is what he and his team want.
"He'll fight anyone, whoever we can get in the ring," Loeffler said. "Our budget from HBO is significant enough now that we should be able to get anyone in the ring with him."
Golovkin has belts, big money behind him and a rapidly growing fan base. But he also has the kind of destructive power and skills that have other fighters, or at least their handlers, afraid to tangle with him. Eventually, he should get a big fight as the pressure mounts on other top middleweights and super middleweights.
Golovkin said he will take any of them on, but he has his ideal order in mind.
"I will fight anybody. I think first Miguel Cotto," he said. "I respect Canelo, he is good, but Chavez, too. But first Miguel Cotto."