Daniel Jacobs: ‘I haven’t come this far to give up. I fear nothing’
Daniel Jacobs may be the middleman for IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin to finally meet in a competitive fight.
At Wednesday afternoon’s Los Angeles press conference, middleman is what the Managing Director of K2 Promotions, Tom Loeffler, accidentally called Jacobs before introducing him to the podium at The Conga Room in L.A. Live. Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, quickly corrected himself to a round of chuckles, and the “Miracle Man” proceeded to command the attention in the room.
“This fight has the material to be one of the best fights in a very long time. What we both bring to the table, this is a can’t-miss fight,” said Jacobs after thanking everyone involved, including his family. “Two guys in their primes, two devastating knockout punchers – it doesn’t get any better than this.”
Jacobs, Brooklyn, New York, made sure to plug the fight by assuring everyone the HBO Pay-Per-View ($64.95 in High-Definition, 9:00 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) on March 18 was something they couldn’t miss and also invited everyone to come to his home turf to watch live at Madison Square Garden before entering the meat of his address.
“I’m privileged to be able to have this opportunity. To be able to face the best. Nine times out of 10, there’s guys who, at the top of their careers, don’t take on tough challenges. Take on the number two – or even the number three – guys try to milk the game, in a sense, as much as they can. Credit to Gennady for taking this fight. I have the utmost respect for him and his team but, come March 18th, I think the questions that everyone has about me will be answered that night: Who I truly am, what I bring to the table and just how great I can be. I haven’t come this far to give up. I’m scared of no man. I fear nothing. My back was against the wall so many different times and I’ve excelled. This is no different. It’s a tough challenge but it’s one I’m looking forward to.”
Jacobs’ mindset couldn’t have been any clearer and he made it no wonder why he doubles as a broadcast analyst for Premier Boxing Champions. He kept up with well-thought-out answers, when taking the time out to speak with UCNLive.com, long after the press conference, and it was readily obvious that Jacobs made a point to relish the opportunity of this media outing because, for the next three months, he will be in seclusion.
“Absolutely,” Jacobs responded when asked if seclusion is what helps him to mentally prepare for a fight. “You have to seclude yourself to focus on the task at hand. Boxing is such a mental game and if you have so many different distractions going on, then you’re gonna be distracted in that ring. For you to focus on being the best that you can be takes seclusion. It takes a certain level of focus that you need and, in doing that, you need to be away for a long time and outside your comfort zone.”
It was after giving the details of his upcoming training camp, when the subject of seclusion was broached.
“We had a pre-camp for three weeks now and camp officially starts tomorrow actually,” admitted Jacobs, who is trained by Andre Rozier. “We’re going up to Oakland. Virgil Hunter and Andre Ward opened up their doors and we’re going to be training in their gym, just to have a different environment because boxing is all about the mental, in my opinion. So to have that great mental space, rub shoulders with world champions and former world champions and great coaches, it’s going to be an amazing time. I’m soaking everything in.”
IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Ward recently edged Sergey Kovalev to annex his belts and Jacobs will try to do the same against Golovkin, who has accrued the IBF, WBA and WBC belts. Golovkin, 36-0 (33), is regarded, by some, as the consensus middleweight champion of the world and Jacobs loves the fact that he’s considered an underdog in this fight.
“It adds motivation to prove people wrong because in situations before, when my back was against the wall and when I had to prove the odds, even to myself, that I can overcome – I have,” said Jacobs. “I remember my late trainer (Victor Roundtree) always telling me, he said, ‘At the end of the day, you always prevail and, no matter what it is, you’re gonna step up and you’re take on those challenges and you’re gonna be the best.’ That’s how I’ve looked at life and that’s how I always looked at my career. Gennady Golovkin is one of the best middleweights in the world. We are the two best middleweights in the world. So that motivation of being the best – everyone wants to be the best in their own prospective lives – and for me, the challenge is so great but I wouldn’t have it any other way because that’s what makes people special. When you take on hard roads and challenges and face the odds. So I’m looking forward to being victorious and I’m looking forward to capturing my dreams because this has been a longtime dream of mine to be the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.”
Jacobs, who turns 30 in February, overcame the odds outside the ring, once defeating a cancerous tumor that was wrapped around his spine and temporarily paralyzed him from the waist down. It’s a familiar narrative and why he was dubbed “Miracle Man,” once making his return in late 2012. One month prior to that comeback, Golovkin made his American debut on HBO and, while he didn’t know it then, Jacobs would be the man to temporarily halt GGG’s familiar narrative of no one willing to step in the ring with him.
“I’m not quite sure the first time that I’ve actually seen him as a professional but I remember him being on my radar about two-and-a-half, three years ago, when he started to really take on some significant opponents,” said Jacobs, on whether he remembered Golovkin coming onto the scene around the time he made his own triumphant return to the ring. “That’s when I said, OK, we’re both probably gonna reach that platform at the same time. Even though he was a bit ahead of me, because I was trying to get acclimated, I knew, at one point, we would reach the level where we would probably bump heads, so, from that point on, I started to study him.”
Seeing as how he’s been studying for years, Jacobs was then asked to reveal what fight he thought was Golovkin’s toughest up until their date on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in New York City.
“I think his number one toughest fight was probably (former IBF junior middleweight titlist) Kassim Ouma,” answered Jacobs. “It’s one that goes under the radar, that people don’t really know too much about, but he had a very, very tough time with Ouma. Back then, Ouma wasn’t really in his prime and wasn’t the biggest puncher but he gave a lot of confusion and a lot of problems to Gennady. I’ve studied what he’s done wrong and what he does right and I believe it’s my job to go up there and exploit all those flaws that I believe he has.” That June 2011 bout was Golovkin’s first defense of the WBA title, at the Roberto Duran Arena in Panama. Golovkin still stopped Ouma in the 10th round.
Jacobs, 32-1 (29), has knocked out every opponent – 12 straight – he has faced since the 2012 comeback. The glaring mark of defeat came in the summer of 2010 – Jacobs’ first world title bout – when he was stopped in the fifth round by Dmitry Pirog. Wins over Giovanni Lorenzo in 2013 and, most recently, Peter Quillin in December 2015, highlight a ledger with an impressive KO rate of 88 percent. Jacobs has also had a knack for getting rid of his opponents in the opening round, something Quillin now knows all too well. Fourteen times Jacobs has won by stoppage within the first three minutes and, on whether it would be a mistake for Golovkin to go toe-to-toe with him upon the sounding of the opening bell, Jacobs responded…
“I think it will be wrong for him to go and have the same disrespect he had for former champions and former opponents. He’s a great puncher, great boxing ability as well, so for him to be careless and not at his best – which I don’t expect – would be injustice. But we never know – this is boxing: Anything can happen.”
Both Golovkin and Jacobs rival each other when it comes to being the premier knockout artist at middleweight. Golovkin is riding a remarkable 23-fight KO streak of his own – one that started when he fought his first 10-round fight nine years ago. It’s why Golovkin garnered the reputation of being the “boogeyman” at 160 pounds and, since the days of Sergio Martinez reigning over the division, has been avoided, for the most part. With that came lesser opponents but David Lemieux was the first titleholder to risk it all and step up to the plate in October 2015. In that fight, GGG displayed tremendous boxing skills with a power-puncher in front of him and, with his jab alone, beat Lemieux to a pulp before the fight was finally stopped in the eighth round. It was a fight many felt would be competitive for Golovkin – and wasn’t at all. Jacobs agreed that will likely be the version of Golovkin he sees on March 18 but when asked how to exploit that version, Daniel understandably kept his cards close to the vest.
“That has yet to be seen,” he responded. “I look forward to going in there and, whatever hurdles I need to jump over and tackle, I’m going to do what I need to do to win. But I feel like I have every attribute in my skill and arsenal to be successful.”
With a tranquil setting in place, Jacobs will have plenty of time to think about, and construct, a game plan for Golovkin for the next two months. Now, with the expectation of him being both mentally and physically prepared, Jacobs should be the middleman who puts Golovkin in an extremely challenging situation.