Andre Rozier: ‘Danny Jacobs will be almost-undisputed middleweight champion’
Literally as the towel was being waved by Kell Brook’s corner on the afternoon of Sept. 10, the always affable Andre Rozier – the trainer of Danny Jacobs – was calling this reporter, stating his yearning to see his charge take on IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who had stopped Brook in five rounds at the O2 Arena in London.
The original plan called for this fight to take place on Dec. 10 but, as negotiations lingered, this date was scrapped. Eventually a deal was consummated for the two to meet at Madison Square Garden on March 18.
Better just a bit late than never.
“Oh, definitely, we’ve spoken about this on many occasions and I was always a believer that, if we could get in the ring with Gennady, you’d see things other people didn’t expect or didn’t believe would happen. And I think Danny is the only true test to Gennady, at this point in time,” said Rozier on Wednesday afternoon from the Congo Room at L.A. Live, where a press conference was held to promote this HBO Pay-Per-View event.
This isn’t Rozier’s first rodeo versus “GGG,” having been in the corner of Curtis Stevens, who Golovkin vanquished after eight rounds in November of 2013 at the Theater of MSG. So what was learned from that vantage point?
Rozier answered, “Basically, it started in the beginning of the first round. Usually Gennady comes out smoking. True testament to his intellect to not run across the ring right into Curtis because Curtis is a savage puncher and (Golovkin) gave that punching ability a lot of respect but, when he saw that Curtis wasn’t being the Curtis that we have seen from time to time, he took advantage of it. In the fourth round, Curtis put some pressure on him – not big pressure but some pressure and it backed him up and he didn’t respond, at that point.
“Little movements that you can see that say, ‘Y’ know what? We’re attuned to that; we pick up the pace. You’ll see a different circumstance.'”
As you see the two pose for pictures, it’s evident that Jacobs has a couple inches in height on Golovkin. When asked if this will be a factor, Rozier stated, “Danny’s a bigger fighter in this contest. I think March 18th, he’ll be about 175 pounds. He’s going to be a big guy in the ring and it’s going to tell. But he’s a big guy that has fast hands; he’s a big guy that can punch. So he’s going to be noticeable in physical stature and his arms are longer; they respond quicker. These are going to be the telling tales in this bout.”
Jacobs comes into this bout with an impressive mark of 32-1 (29) but his lone loss – a TKO loss to Dmitry Pirog back in 2010 for the vacant WBO middleweight title – is seemingly held against him in perpetuity.
“First and foremost,” said Rozier, in addressing that turbulent period, “it was a very hard time for him. His grandmother passed away the week of the fight. We should’ve honestly not followed through on the fight. He was an emotional wreck and he couldn’t pull it together.”
Since that lone blemish, Jacobs has reeled off a dozen victories – all by stoppage – against Giovanni Lorenzo, Sergio Mora (twice) and Peter Quillin, and, of course, there was his battle against cancer that attacked his spine. Rozier is absolutely convinced that the toughest battles for Jacobs in life have already been fought. Many compare Golovkin’s aura to the mystique of Mike Tyson, caused by his ability to intimidate his opponents. Most opponents were defeated before they ever stepped into the ring.
So is there a Tyson-esque feel to Golovkin?
Rozier says, “Maybe not like Mike. Mike’s intimidation of his opponents was something unprecedented. We’ve never seen that before and I don’t know if we’ll honestly see that (again). People were scared to death of Mike Tyson. With Gennady, it’s more of, ‘I’m intimidated,’ but there’s a difference and, when you’re fighting and you don’t respond to it, you stay intimidated and he usually runs you right over.”
Jacobs is a good athlete, with above-average hand-speed, a legitimate puncher with the ability to box. So what’s the tact they take versus Golovkin?
“Well, being that Danny is a boxer-puncher, you do both,” said Rozier, laughing loudly at his own logic. “You do a little bit of both, when you have to. You box when you need to; you punch when you have to and that’s what (Jacobs) does. So it’s not limited to, ‘Well, if I can’t slug you out – I’m done.’ No, he can get up on his toes; he can fire fast jabs, quick one-twos, keep him off-balance and those one-twos do come with some thunder.”
Oddsmakers have listed Jacobs as a heavy underdog (as high as 8-to-1) but Rozier remains undaunted. When asked what vision he has for the night of March 18, he told UCNLive with confidence, “They raise Danny’s hand in victory and he will be the almost-undisputed middleweight champion of the world.”
Golovkin admitted to losing a bit of interest in boxing, as last year didn’t produce the caliber of fights he yearned for, as many boxers talked boldly about facing him but ultimately cried wolf.
So did his trainer Abel Sanchez notice any of this in the gym as they prepared for Dominic Wade and Kell Brook?
“The only time he showed that he was bored was in the actual fights. The dominance is evident because of the preparation. He prepares just as hard for Wade as he does for Jacobs or (David) Lemieux so no, it wasn’t evident in the gym but you could see in the fights. Like the Wade fight, once (Golovkin) hurt him and saw he hurt him – and, I’ve said in the past, once he lands a good punch, you could see the change in the expression. It happened in the Wade fight. It happened in the Brook fight when (Golovkin) hurt him with a little hook in the first round, two minutes in, and then it was not a fight anymore,” Sanchez told a group of reporters.
“There’s no interest (during the fights), that’s why if you see the (Willie) Monroe (Jr.) fight, he’s going, ‘C’mon Willie, do something. Let’s make it a show.”’ So no, in the gym. In the fights, yes (he was bored).
Conventional wisdom says Jacobs will try to box and move against Golovkin early and then settle in, to which Sanchez responded, “He’s going to try but if he does, and he stands in like he says he’s going to, and uses his skills on the inside, it’s going to show us a different facet of Golovkin. He’s like an onion; we’re peeling the different layers and, with the Lemieux fight, he showed you the jab, the boxing from the outside at a distance.
“Hopefully Danny’s there and can withstand the work on the inside and we can see his inside work. We’ve never seen it in a fight.”
MIRACLE MAN FLURRIES
K2 Promotions Managing Director Tom Loeffler says he expects Golovkin-Jacobs to sell out the Garden…Top Rank Promotions will officially announce the pro debut of Mick Conlan next week. This event will take place on March 17 at the Theater of MSG on St. Patrick’s Day…Seriously, I need to buy an umbrella with how much it’s rained out here in Los Angeles this year…Anyone see the back-and-forthing on Twitter between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya?…Anyone watching the Leah Remini series “Scientology and the Aftermath” on A&E? It’s pretty interesting…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.