Less than a month away from a possible fight of the year candidate when middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin takes on the formidable challenge of Daniel Jacobs on March 18th. On paper this one shapes up to be the best test for Triple G spanning his eleven year career in which he has compiled a perfect record of 33-0, 30 KO’s. In that span of time Golovkin has been a champion since 2009 on his quest to fill his closet with every legitimate 160 pound belt. This pilgrimage to greatness has had no roadblocks in Gennady’s path as much as disappointment and terrified challengers.
“GGG” will be putting his WBA (Super), IBF, WBC, and IBO middle weights belts on the line. (Ringside Report does not recognize the IBO) Daniel’s WBA “Regular” belt is up for grabs. Jacobs won vacant belt in 2014 and defended it four times. Golovkin has defended his belts 17 times.
Golovkin has tried in vain to lure all the top middleweights into the ring to challenge for middleweight supremacy over the last four years sadly being ducked or ignored by Miguel Cotto, Peter Quillin, Canelo Alvarez, Andy Lee, Billy Joe Saunders, Chris Eubanks, JR. and Daniel Jacobs until he was mandated by WBA since last year to unify the WBA belts. All but Miguel, talked the bravado of meeting the challenge, but for many reasons each and every one failed to man up and sign the contract.
There is many intriguing “what ifs” that make this bout a possible uncut gem in the making. There are several factors at stake than just alphabet titles. Both champions have yet to face an opponent as imposing as the one now before them. Truly, regardless of WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders the winner of this fight stakes claim to the best middleweight extent.
Onward, the fight will be held in New York at Madison Square Garden and be carried by HBO’S Pay Per View arm. This past week the champs arrived at the Garden for the WBC’s mandated 30 day weigh in. “GGG” tipped the scales at an on target weight of 165 pounds making the official weigh in on March 10th a piece of cake. It is expected he will hydrate 10 pounds when entering the ring fight night. Jacobs who has a bigger frame showed up as a light heavyweight moving the arrow on the scale north to 174.8 lbs. It will be fascinating to see if his nutritionist, former junior welterweight champ Chris Algieri will get him on target in time and then how much he’ll allow Jacobs to rehydrate over the next 24 hours? Some expectations predict Danny entering the ring 15 to 20 pounds over night. What the body naturally packs on in the rehydration process sufficing muscle mass and putting on bulk weight are two different equations and both sides of the coin play into how it could help or hinder his chances.
Jacobs has been blessed with both speed and power making him a truly imposing threat to Golovkin supremacy over the division. Now, does he try to maintain the speed and stamina by keeping his weight down closer to middleweight or does he try to bulk up in the hopes of absorbing the heavy artillery coming his way and adding weight behind his punches? If light hitting former welterweight champ Sergio Mora could take Danny off his feet with one punch, how much weight could he possibly add to anchor the shots of the heavy handed Golovkin?
If Jacobs decides to enter ring at light heavy will he be forfeiting his natural speed after a few rounds of combat? Does his camp believe he will punch harder tipping scales north of 175? Valid questions surrounding the parameters of handicapping this fight. Which makes me wonder out loud if that’s the plan what was the sense in bringing Algieri into camp? After learning first hand himself the value of boxing instead of slugging would he plan to encourage the drastic overnight weight gain?
There are several questions of concern surrounding the Golovkin camp as well. Last year he faced his sternest challenge to date in the form of Welterweight king Kell Brook who was gallantly TKO’d in the fifth round of a rousing bout where he actually entered the ring heavier than the middleweight champion and cleanly landed power shots in every round. His downfall was being inside the pocket mano a mano where “GGG” was able to return the volleys.
Kell was protected by his longtime trainer who stopped the fight after learning his protégé was suffering from triple vision. Post-fight Brook was rushed to hospital where he was treated for a fractured skull. (Broken orbital bone) There have been jokes as well as rumors and verified by HBO boxing analyst Max Kellerman that Gennady sometimes takes some thunder in recent bouts hoping to draw in challengers who think he has slowed down a notch closing in on his 35th birthday. If that was the case, why did he take so many or was Brook really that good? The carnage of his well-placed power left evident welts all over Golovkin’s face. Kell landed some hellacious well-timed uppercuts that had his fans wondering if they were witnessing an upset in the making. Compound this with an inactive 2016 where his only other defense was a two round blow out of lightly regarded Dominic Wade. Will rust be a factor on March 18th?
There is a backside to that theory. “GGG’s” trainer Abel Sanchez is already promising his fighter will enter the ring four times this calendar year and already lining up future fights. As of this writing, it does not appear there is a rematch clause leaving the victor free to unify with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders for all the hardware not that it’s needed. Whoever wins this bout will have universal recognition. Saunders made a single end of the year defense in fear his title would be vacated. The rust showed and truly made him currently irrelevant.
Golovkin stands 5’10”. Owns an outstanding unblemished record of 36-0, 33 KO’s. The Kazakhstani fights from orthodox stance and has a 70” reach. He will enter ring a month shy of his 35th birthday. Style wise he has no flaws. Haters have dismissed him for being the “god of war” and tearing through the division simply because there isn’t a larger than life marquee name on his ledger. That in fact is due to the top echelon fighters at 160 avoiding him like the plague. The narrow mindedness of the situation is infuriating. Facebook boxing sites are filled with negative karma but these fans fail to chastise all the iconic names “who talked the talk, but refused to walk the walk”.
Jacobs is truly an imposing middleweight standing 6’ even. With a 73” wingspan he’ll enjoy a slight height and reach advantage. The American just turned 30 this month and will be facing off in the traditional orthodox stance also. While it isn’t guaranteed that Jacobs will enter the ring heavier than “GGG”, it is a safe assumption. Daniel’s record is 32-1, 29 KO’s. The lone loss by KO in 2010 came at the hands of little known Dmitry Pirog for the vacant WBO belt. It must be noted here that it is more than probable that Jacobs was already suffering with undiagnosed osteosarcoma, a life-threatening bone cancer. He was treated for it in 2011 and made a full recovery. He has stopped his last dozen opponents since his ring return.
Style wise this one shapes up to be a fan favorite. Both gents can box and punch with clarity as well as authority. This will not be a sloppy fight of volume over substance. The champs will be looking to score clean punishing shots while maintaining proper defense. While casual fans might elect to think that Jacobs will wisely use the entire ring to outbox his greatest challenge I simply remind them of Golovkin’s easy 8 round dismantling of highly respected puncher David Lemieux. That night “GGG” glided effortless behind a ram rod jab stopping Lemieux in his tracks every time and then unleashed torrid combinations before changing angles and starting over. It’s a safe bet to assume both men will be making best use of their jabs when first bell rings. The bout will be contested at a brisk pace with furious exchanges in every round while it lasts.
What to look for:
“GGG” has no flaws. While he isn’t a gazelle in the ring he does move effortlessly in any direction. His defense is solid but subtle. He cuts off the ring better than any current fighter and can adopt laterally. He is a rare breed of puncher who fires on balls of his feet and does not have to rely on being flatfooted for leverage. “GGG” throws thunder with both hands as he fires his combos equally from either side upstairs and down. His offense is relentless never giving his foe a chance to breathe. Post-fight several victims said they just weren’t prepared for how hard he actually hits. His chin so far is on par with the great Marvin Hagler. Bombs don’t seem to faze him.
Golovkin always keeps his back foot planted behind regardless of the angle he’s punching at. That stability will be a huge balance factor in this fight. While only three fighters ever heard the final bell, no one questions his stamina. If Danny doesn’t get his attention with a big shot in first two rounds “GGG” will be willing to let a few punches tag up in order to land his own.
Jacobs to the naked eye is another complete fighting machine but against Gennady he has tiny flaws that if exposed, can turn into fatal mistakes.
First off is the perception of power. Danny has respectful power but his quick blow out of Peter Quillin is not indicative of the true nature of hammers as much as a well-placed combo that caught its mark. Another part of the equation is people putting too much importance on the victory. Quillin is a good solid fighter, who beat a few decent names but he is not of the caliber of Golovkin. In fact, with that loss Peter questioned if he was going to continue his career. He had mugged for the cameras at the introduction almost longer than the fight itself. Quillin aside Danny’s title defenses have been much more suspect than that of Golovkin.
Closer inspection of his KO loss to Pirog shows Danny was in excellent shape and showing no signs of vulnerability. In the fateful fifth round, he was momentarily psyched out as Dmitry feigned going southpaw for an instant then replanted feet throwing a classic one/two catching Jacobs cleanly with a picture perfect cross. He was also deposited on canvas by Sergio Mora a blown up former welterweight champion. Once again it was perfect timing in nailing Jacobs with a counter shot. Jacobs prevailed but the stigma of having a questionable chin is warranted. Whether you believe he has a porous defense at times or his whiskers aren’t top notch it must be taken into consideration against a brute who has never taken a backwards step let alone tasted the canvas.
Making matters worse is that in the heat of battle Danny squares up in the pocket if he thinks he has hurt a foe. “GGG” is a perfect balanced fighter who never neglects proper footing and footwork which will play a key role in this fight, not power. Being in position to throw your power punches as well as absorb what your nemesis returns in kind is what it’s all about.
Danny has a tendency to expose the left side of his chin when he doubles up the jab. Leaving an opening for even a split second against a Golovkin right hand is literally playing “Russian Roulette.” He also has a tendency when using the entire ring to back himself into the ropes and often into a corner. Against “GGG” this flaw could cost him a ten count. Danny’s best chance of winning this fight is contesting the real estate in ring center with a perpetual pivot of angles. Moving backwards and giving ground is a credence of surrender to Golovkin and he’ll smell blood in the water like a harbor shark at lunchtime. Add to the mixture that Danny tends to forget to tuck his chin when firing his most lethal combinations and it’s hard to imagine him upsetting the early odds of -900 for Golovkin / + 550 for himself.
Golovkin by stoppage somewhere before the end of the tenth round.
While Danny may have some encouraging moments he will eventually get discouraged when his best shots are not slowing “GGG” from marching forward and unleashing his patented carnage. Both fighters will look to land something significant in the opening round to gain each other’s respect. If Golovkin lands first and sees a knee buckle or misplaced step it could turn into another Jacobs/ Quillin but in reverse.
While Danny has fine-tuned his craft making himself a legitimate champion there simply isn’t a resume of work against top flight contenders to suggest he can come out victorious. Some Vegas odds makers are setting the line at -800 / +450 where I believe it will hold.
In December, the WBA had a board meeting to finalize mandated unification and decide on purse split. It was ruled “GGG” would earn a 75/25 % split. Seems about right. As good as Jacobs is he is a three to one underdog when the bell rings.
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