He's on his way after retaining his title for the sixth time in a blood-soaked seventh-round knockout of Gabriel Rosado on Saturday night at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the Orlando Salido-Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia featherweight title fight.
Golovkin, 30, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan, made his United States debut in September in a title-retaining fifth-round knockout of former European champion Grzegorz Proksa. He looked just as good taking Philadelphia's Rosado apart in his second consecutive HBO appearance.
Golovkin -- who was sick in bed two days ago and considered pulling out of the fight -- dominated even though Rosado, 26, was game.
"This is true, this is true," Golovkin said of being ill. "I'm a little bit sick, but I feel great. I feel my power. I know that Gabriel, I can knock him out. I can do much more better. This chance for me, this was for the public."
As good as Golovkin looked, he admitted he was not at his best.
"No, no, no, no. I wanted to show the public my technique and my tactic," he said.
He cut Rosado in the corner of his left eye in the second round. He rocked him with a right hand in the third round. By the fourth round, Rosado's face was a bloody mess after also being cut over his left eye and bleeding from the nose.
Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs) must have landed something solid in the fifth round, because Golovkin (25-0, 22 KOs) suddenly had a bruise around his right eye. But Golovkin was dishing out way more than he was taking.
Rosado's left eye was in very bad shape and the ringside doctor took a good look at it before both the sixth and seventh rounds as Rosado pleaded to be allowed to continue.
Both fighters were covered in Rosado's blood in the seventh round as Rosado continued to bleed badly until his trainer, Billy Briscoe, climbed the steps and threw in the towel. When referee Steve Smoger saw the towel, he intervened and stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 46 seconds.
Rosado was a mandatory title challenger at junior middleweight but gave up the shot to rise in weight for a bigger payday -- and much tougher fight -- to face Golovkin.
"I just want to say this guy is strong as hell," Rosado said. "I just couldn't see. He's a tough fighter."
Martinez and Burgos draw
The fight did not deliver the kind of sustained action many expected it might, but Roman "Rocky" Martinez of Puerto Rico retained his junior lightweight title in a split draw against Mexico's Juan Carlos Burgos.
Judges Woleska Roldan had it 117-111 for Burgos, Tony Paollilo had it 116-112 for Martinez and John Signorile had it 114-114. ESPN.com had it 116-112 for Burgos.
Martinez was making the first defense of the vacant belt he won via bloody split decision against Miguel Beltran Jr. in a Sept. 15 slugfest on the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard. The fight with Burgos, however, came nowhere near delivering that kind of action.
The 24-year-old Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KOs), however, seemed to carry the better of it. He used a hard, sustained body attack throughout the fight. Of the 234 power shots Burgos landed, 118 were to the body, according to CompuBox statistics. Burgos outlanded Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs) in 10 of the 12 rounds.
"Burgos is a big, strong difficult guy to fight," Martinez, 29, said. "I thought I won at least eight rounds, but the three rounds were very, very difficult. He came on and he threw a lot of overhand rights that really bothered me. Rematch? No problem."
The fight started slowly but eventually brought the crowd to life in the sixth round, when they traded often and bombed each other with big body shots. But it settled back into a more measured pace after that with Burgos being warned by referee Eddie Claudio for low blows in the seventh round.
Burgos' main offense came from hard body shots throughout the fight. Martinez would often grimace when hit with them.
Burgos, the mandatory challenger, was getting his second title shot. His only loss came to Hozumi Hasegawa in a 2010 vacant featherweight world title fight in Japan.
"It was a real tough fight," Burgos said. "Martinez is a tough guy and he came in the whole time, but I thought I won the fight."
• Light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (17-0, 10 KOs) of Long Beach, N.Y. -- with a vocal following -- took an action-packed eight-round decision against Roger Cantrell (15-3, 8 KOs) of Puyallup, Wash. Monaghan won 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75 in what was a rough, rugged fight between brawlers with little defense. Cantrell opened a cut over Monaghan's left eye in the third round. They brought the crowd to its feet during the toe-to-toe fifth round as they exchanged haymakers. By the end, they were both bloody and bruised.
• Junior lightweight Felix Verdejo (2-0, 1 KO), a 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian who turned pro in December, need just 21 seconds to destroy Tomi Archambault (1-4, 1 KO) of Bismarck, N.D. Verdejo landed just two punches, a left to the body and then a flush left to his chin to drop him. Archambault made it to his feet, but was clearly in no condition to continue, and referee Gary Rosato waived it off.
"That's the first time I ever won a fight with two punches," Verdejo said. "My best punch is actually my right hand, but I hit him with a left hook. I always knock guys out with my right hand, not my left hook."
• Junior middleweight prospect Glen Tapia (17-0, 10 KOs) of Passaic, N.J., overwhelmed Ayi Bruce (14-9, 8 KOs) of Albany, N.Y., for a second-round knockout. Tapia dropped Bruce with a right hand in the second round. When the fight resumed, Tapia pinned Bruce along the ropes and was teeing off to the head and body. Bruce was not throwing back and referee David Fields stepped in to call off the fight at 2 minutes, 33 seconds.
• Philadelphia cruiserweight Anthony Ferrante (13-4, 8 KOs) scored a massive 10th-round knockout of Isa Akberbayev (10-1, 7 KOs) of Kazakhstan. It was a hard-fought, bloody fight that started with a bang as both men went down within about 10 seconds just before the end of the first round. Ferrante dropped Akberbayev with a right hand and then Akberbayev returned the favor a couple of seconds later. By the sixth round, Akberbayev's left eye was a bloody messy and Ferrante had taken control. Then, in the 10th round, he landed a clean right hand on Akberbayev's temple and knocked him out cold. He was down for several minutes and received medical attention before being able to get to his feet.
• Welterweight Mikael Zewski (18-0, 14 KOs) of Quebec dominated Brandon Hoskins (16-4-1, 8 KOs) of Hannibal, Mo., in a fourth-round knockout victory. Zewski, a heavy-handed prospect, broke Hoskins down until dropping him three times in the fourth round. Hoskins went down twice on right hands but was not badly hurt. But he also did not have his legs under him and when Zewski clipped him with a short left hand, Hoskins went down to his knees and referee Gary Rosato called off the fight at 1 minute, 42 seconds.
• Super middleweight Ronald Ellis (7-0, 5 KOs) of Lynn, Mass., won a shutout four-round decision against Steven Tyner (3-10-2, 2 KOs) of Akron, Ohio, in the first fight of the night. Although Ellis won 40-36 on all three scorecards, it was a crowd-pleasing fight, even though Ellis was always in control.