The Garden grind for Gennady Golovkin
It was no (Madison Square) Garden party for Gennady Golovkin last weekend against the more durable-than-expected Danny Jacobs. On this evening, in front of 19,939 patrons, not only was Golovkin’s knockout streak (23 consecutive, coming in) halted but he was more strategic and guarded than per usual.
Pressing forward steadily, with his ramrod jab, he methodically won enough rounds (while scoring a fourth round knockdown) to earn a unanimous decision, by the scores of 115-112 twice and 114-113. This wasn’t the expected blowout many had expected and, for the first time, we had really seen Golovkin being pressed.
You could say he “four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dusted” his way to his 37th victory.
Jacobs didn’t win but he earned a measure of respect that had been lacking previously.
Golovkin had at least a layer or two of his cloak of invincibility removed.
Perhaps with this outing, it will be easier to entice fellow middleweights to knock “GGG” off his perch.
“I sure hope so. I sure hope so,” said K2 Promotions Managing Director Tom Loeffler on Saturday night, while talking to members of press row after the fight. “I sure hope everyone watching the fight thinks Gennady is not the knockout machine he’s been built as and hopefully other middleweights will get in the ring with him and, even if they lose the fight, maybe they survive the distance. I think Danny Jacobs really elevated his training and his preparation and his performance in the ring against Gennady.”
While some will be critical of Golovkin’s win, Loeffler predictably had the promoter’s perspective, “When you can win a unanimous decision against such a tremendous warrior and drop him in the process, I don’t know how anyone can see that’s not a good performance. Danny fought a tremendous fight and he gained a lot of fans tonight, gained a lot of credibility, a lot of marketability as well. So I don’t think there were any losers tonight.”
Jacobs fought a smart tactical fight, using lateral movement and switching to southpaw, which offset the usually relentless Golovkin and, while he was sent to the floor and hurt a few times, Jacobs’ SNAC-supported training allowed him to get through 12 rounds. He just didn’t do enough to actually get his hands raised in victory.
In an ironic twist, coming off this fight, Jacobs’ stock was raised more than the victor’s.(That said, the hope is Premier Boxing Champions and its brain trust capitalize on this momentum by not shelving him for too long). Perhaps it’s a tad unfair to be critical of Golovkin but he has set an incredibly high standard for himself and has been given a vast array of accolades. To whom much is given, much is expected.
Loeffler stated that, while Jacobs is certainly in play for a future rematch, it would not be immediate. It’s clear that now they have their sights set on the final belt and/or a lucrative showdown with Saul Alvarez in September. There’s a lot of speculation that Golovkin will be making a homecoming bout on June 10 in Kazakhstan. “We’ll have to see how Gennady feels next week and we’ll have to see what the options are out there for him,” said Loeffler, of a possible summer bout versus Billy Joe Saunders, who has the final middleweight strap.
For the second time in a row, Golovkin was far from perfect. Against Kell Brook, last September, he was rather reckless. Against Jacobs, the lack of work downstairs was puzzling. His trainer Abel Sanchez admitted on Monday morning,”I don’t think it was his best performance. Rating it from one-to-10, I’d rate it about an eight. I kept asking in the corner to do more body work. We see something from the outside, they see certain things when they are on the inside. I think we still won. I thought the scores were a little closer than I had it but I’m biased, of course, and we won versus the second best middleweight in the world.”
But you have to wonder, with his 35th birthday looming in a few weeks, is Father Time starting to creep up on Golovkin? Is there now a physical erosion taking place?
And for the first time in years, he fought just twice in a calendar year, 2016. Could ring rust have been a bit of a factor (not to mention Jacobs’ effort)?
“We did have that off-time in December. We fought in September. (Golovkin) had been off six months; it could have been that,” reasoned Sanchez. “That’s not making an excuse but he didn’t look as well. He’s not a machine, so he’s not going to look perfect every time. I think the people are putting too much into the knockout streak. Nobody had ever done it, so maybe it was special but, for us, as a team, going the 12 rounds was just as important because, for Gennady’s sake, he knows he can go a hard 12 rounds and still be strong at the end of the fight. So there’s a silver lining to everything but there was too much emphasis on the knockout streak.
“That wasn’t our concern; that was never our focus to make sure we knocked him out. Our focus was to make sure we got the win,” Sanchez concluded. For Golovkin, the challenge Jacobs ultimately presented made this a “win tonight, look good tomorrow” moment.
Sanchez is absolutely in favor of a quick return on June 10 for his charge, “I think he needs to fight three, four times this year, so that he can stay sharp. When Mike Tyson was at his best, he was fighting every five-to-eight weeks, so I think these guys take so much time off that it’s difficult to stay sharp as they could be, if they’re fighting often.”
Jacobs seems to be a fighter ascending, with momentum moving forward. “I am looking forward to the future. I think I gained a lot of fans. My style is good. I am a fan-friendly guy and I thought I won the fight.”
Perception can skew reality. For the time being, the perception is that Golovkin is not quite as impenetrable as in the past.
“I sure hope so,” said Sanchez, who still believes there’s still plenty left in Golovkin’s gas tank, “because maybe he did look more vulnerable to some people but, when you have an off-night and dominate the way I think he did – he didn’t do as much as I would have like to see him do – yeah, I would hope negotiations become a lot easier for Tom Loeffler with the other guys.”
A lot is being made of Jacobs bypassing the IBF’s next day weigh-in on Saturday morning. It’s clear he was the bigger man in the ring but the bottom line is A) Jacobs made weight for the official weigh-in and B) Golovkin’s marketing plan and catch phrase for the past couple of years has been: #AlltheBelts, so while Golovkin has a mission statement to horde all four major belts, for Jacobs, there would still be two other belts on the line (the WBA and WBC) and, just more importantly, being the first man to defeat Golovkin.
All that upside trumped the IBF strap.
Till all the sanctioning bodies and, just as importantly the athletic commissions, are in sync with such a stipulation, champions with multiple belts could be at a disadvantage, as they still have to adhere to a different set of rules than a challenger (who may take the same tact Jacobs did).
You get the strong sense that Jacobs and his camp may have set the template for future foes.
“There’s nothing we can do to control that,” admitted Loeffler. “Gennady followed the IBF rules, as their champion and Danny chose not to weigh in, so we really don’t have control of that. I would venture to say that Danny was significantly heavier than Gennady but that’s not an excuse. Gennady spars a lot of heavier guys in training. So we saw what happened with (the David) Lemieux fight; that certainly helped Lemieux against Curtis Stevens but we really thought Gennady, with his punching power, would be able to equalize any size or weight advantage that Danny would have.”
“Y’ know, it’s unfortunate that there’s no honor and there’s no respect for the sport, respect for your word,” added Sanchez, who takes a much harsher view. “You sign up to do something; you should do it. But we have to deal with it. It is for the bigger guy an advantage, obviously we can’t keep them from doing it because, as long as they weigh in at the limit or weigh-in, what the organizations have in place is among them. It has nothing to do with the commissions or the fighters or the actual middleweight title.”
For the record, my scorecard was 115-112 Golovkin…And, yeah, I thought Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez got the shaft in suffering his first “loss”…I went to Jimmy’s Corner all three nights while in NYC. That place is truly the Mecca of all bars in that city…Jack Dempsey’s is a good place to hang out for brunch and Bloody Marys on Sundays, before heading out on the flight back home….Is it already time for spring practice at Miami?….Seriously, how did the NBA players of the past play in so many back-to-back games when they had to fly commercial flights?…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.