Gennady Golovkin made the 18th defence of his middleweight titles with a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs, but he failed to stop his opponent for the first time since 2008.
The 34-year-old Kazakh (37-0) sent Jacobs to the canvas in round four on his way to a 115-112 115-112 114-113 victory on the judges’ scorecards.
Victory edges Golovkin closer to a super-fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
“Of course, I’m ready [to fight Canelo],” Golovkin told HBO.
“I’m very hungry. I’m very mad and excited – I’m like an animal for this fight.”
Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler claimed the Kazakh and Mexican Alvarez (48-1-1) have “agreed on a lot of points” after plans for a unification bout against Britain’s WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders failed to materialise.
According to CompuBox, Golovkin outpunched 30-year-old Jacobs in New York – 231 to 175 – but the American, who is the first cancer survivor to win a world title, believed he had won the contest.
“After the knockdown, I told him he would have to kill me [to knock me out],” Jacobs said. “When I got up, I thought, ‘This is all he has? I got back up and I thought I won the fight.'”