Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs is finally across the goal line
What was seemingly stuck on the two-yard line for at least a couple of weeks was finally taken over the goal line last weekend when it was announced that the long-awaited middleweight bout between unified champion Gennady Golovkin and Danny Jacobs had been signed, sealed and delivered for March 18 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
On Friday night, Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, came over to say hello as this scribe was working the international broadcast for the card at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. “Anything to report or announce?” I asked him. Loeffler, who can play it close to the vest as any professional poker player, answered, “Maybe tomorrow.” I then inquired about a possible media gathering at the Forum for the next night, when HBO was televising Bernard Hopkins’ finale and his reply was, “Maybe earlier; keep your lunch open.”
As I made my way up to the Renaissance Hotel to pick up fellow UCNLive.com scribe Rian Scalia, I was sent this text at 11:44 a.m. from publicist Bernie Bahrmasel, “There will not be a lunch today.” But at 12:02, this missive came to my phone, “Lunch back on for 1:30 p.m. at the Renaissance…fight just announced…small media lunch.”
And just like that, a trip to Panama (where a WBA purse bid was scheduled for Monday) was averted for a relieved Loeffler.
”I’m happy to announce a fight and work on a promotion, rather than speculate on what’s going to happen with a purse bid on Gennady’s next fight,” said Loeffler on that afternoon as he sat next to Golovkin and his trainer Abel Sanchez. Loeffler noted, in a purse bid situation, a third party could come out of nowhere and make an exorbitant bid and control the promotion (think back to the Wladimir Klitschko-Alexander Povetkin fight).
But the bottom line is Golovkin – who’s been idle since Sept.10, when he stopped Kell Brook in the U.K. – finally has a fight.
“What’s funny is that the fans – and even the media – have ‘Triple G’ withdrawals,” said Loeffler, with a chuckle. “He fought in September and people make it sound like he’s out of the ring for two years. They’re just so used to seeing him fight. But again, we’re happy to be back in promoter mode, where we can go on sale with tickets. It’s scheduled for Friday of this week at the MSG and we can sell tickets and put the undercard together.” (The pre-sale is Friday and the general sale begins on Christmas Eve with the tickets being priced between $100-$1,000.)
When asked of the tenor of these discussions with Al Haymon and the rest of Jacobs’ representatives, Loeffler described it as “cordial.” The last sticking points in getting this deal done were,”increased numbers and guarantees and then we were finally able to get it done.”
Under the WBA purse bid, Golovkin, as its “super champion,” would have received a 75/25 split in his favor (Jacobs has the “regular” version of that belt). So just what percentage was negotiated for Jacobs?
“I would say it’s more than the mandated percentage but, at the same time, look, there were discussions from outside. What if we bring it to Barclays (Center)? What if we put it on Showtime? And that’s what we really had to go out of our way as the champion, to bring it back to MSG,” explained Loeffler. “Gennady hasn’t fought at the Garden since he sold it out versus (former IBF titlist David) Lemieux. So a lot of fans in New York are looking forward to him coming back. I think a lot of people perceive this as his toughest fight.”
And with the need to fulfill the financial demands of both parties, this bout will be (cue widespread groaning) on pay-per-view. “As the negotiations went on, the economics, there’s no guarantee the pay-per-view numbers are going to be astronomical. We’ve seen the last recent pay-per-view figures and there’s a risk going on pay-per-view but, the way it was able to be structured, both fighters promote the fight. I think both fighters have clearly established fan-bases,” said Loeffler, who believes – or hopes – the dynamics surrounding this fight will sell the event.
“It’s kind of a throwback fight where you have the top two middleweights in the division fighting each other at MSG, both big punchers. I think, now, Jacobs has 12 knockouts in a row and Gennady has 23 knockouts in a row,” continued Loeffler. “So when you have two big punchers like that, it’s a fight fans have been looking for and it’s just a relief for me and now, where now (trainer) Abel (Sanchez) can now train, Gennady now knows what his plan is and I can get down to promoting the fight and marketing the tickets and pay-per-view.”
It was evident that Loeffler wanted to structure a deal in which Golovkin would not jeopardize his long-standing relationship with HBO, which has made him one of the pillars of its boxing franchise.
“(Gennady) has an exclusive contract with HBO. I can’t really disclose the terms on it but he wouldn’t have put himself in a position to where he would risk any of his titles,” he explained. “So whether we would’ve had to put in an extremely large bid, or whatever the situation was, Gennady’s worked so hard in accumulating all the titles – he added the WBC this year – he knocked out Lemieux for the IBF title. He basically inherited the WBA ‘super champion’ title because (Felix) Sturm wouldn’t fight him. (Daniel) Geale, when he beat Sturm, he wouldn’t fight (Golovkin).
“But he’s not going to risk any of his titles.”
Golovkin is just glad this deal got consummated.
“First of all, it’s big news for me. It’s very interesting. I’m very excited because I have a fight,” he said, as he sat between Loeffler and Sanchez. “I think it’s a very good fight, I hope. I think it’s a great fight for us. I think Daniel is the best challenger now. He’s an amazing fighter.”
When asked if Jacobs represented the best fighter he’s faced as a pro, he answered, “100 percent toughest opponent and, right now, he’s number two in the middleweight division. He’s an amazing fighter. It’s very interesting for us. Right now, it’s very serious, not to business – but to boxing – to sport.”
It’s clear that Golovkin has respect for his upcoming foe. The always blunt Sanchez, who believes Jacobs is the best they have faced, stated, “When Danny became champion, he talked about not being ready for the elite and, for the last couple of years, he hasn’t really voiced voiced wanting to fight Golovkin because he needed some fights. The WBA ordered it and he started talking like a champion should talk, like he really wants to fight Gennady.”
What Sanchez doesn’t want is any revisionist history to take place, “I think – I hope – that in the aftermath of the fight, the guys that are bad-mouthing Golovkin are going to go back and read the articles today and in the next couple of months about what a tough opponent this is going to be for Gennady, how he has all the tools to beat Gennady because, after he beats him – and beats him decisively – I hope he gets the recognition he so richly deserves.” As for how his charge will go about the task at hand, Sanchez states, “The opponent is going to dictate how he approaches the fight. But lets see if Danny wants to fight. If Danny fights like he fought (Peter) Quillin, we can have a helluva fight. But if he feels the first shot and he cowers away, Gennady is going to have to make the fight.”
For Golovkin, this is the fight he needed on his way to hopefully bigger, more lucrative ones (a certain red-headed Mexican star). “First Daniel Jacobs and, next fight, I want bigger. Right now, Daniel, he’s my biggest fight,” said Golovkin, 36-0 (33).
Golovkin-Jacobs is the best pure fight that can be made at 160 and it got done. Perhaps it signals a change in the boxing business, in which competing factions can regularly reach across the aisle and do business when need be.
“We’ve always tried to work with every promoter,” pointed out Loeffler, who, in Golovkin’s last four bouts, has worked with Golden Boy Promotions, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn and Haymon (twice). “I went over with Bernie one time; it was like nine different promoters that we had opponents for Gennady, if we started not working with promoters that would just limit it even more, the people that would be willing to fight Gennady.
“So I made a deal with Al for the Dominic Wade fight. That was a lower-profile fight. That was easier to put together but I’ve never had any issues. I’ve always tried to bridge the gap to benefit the sport of boxing, not only Gennady’s career, Danny’s career, the sport of boxing, overall. I think the sport will elevate itself with promoters working together, rather than promoters or TV networks working against each other.”
It will be a Boxing-palooza on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in New York as highly touted Mick Conlan will be making his pro debut on March 17 at the Theater at MSG on a show promoted by Top Rank Promotions…When asked about the possibility of Saul Alvarez facing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Golovkin just chuckled and said, “It’s not serious question.”…Loeffler said he and GBP president Eric Gomez will be meeting over the holidays to discuss the Canelo Alvarez-Golovkin fight…I’ve already booked my fight for Newark, New Jersey/New York for St. Paddy’s Day weekend…Loeffler has mentioned WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk and WBC junior bantamweight titlist Roman Gonzalez for this pay-per-view undercard but it seems “Chocolatito” wants a significant increase in pay to face Carlos Cuadras in a rematch…Is Tom Brady the NFL MVP (again)?…Saw “Timeline” on the NFL Network on Vince Lombardi’s one season in Washington. It’s amazing the impact he had in such a short time…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.