It’s Not a Cliché: Everyone’s a Winner at Golovkin-Jacobs

Photos by Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the perfunctory quotes spooned out to reporters after Gennady Golovkin defended his middleweight titles against Daniel Jacobs at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, one continues to ring true days after Triple-G’s tightly-contested unanimous decision win (114-113, 115-112, 115-112). 

“There’s really no losers tonight,” said promoter Tom Loeffler in the early hours of Sunday morning.

As the managing director of K2 promotions, which represents Golovkin, Loeffler has every interest in molding the truth in his client’s interests. Only this wasn’t a stretch. 

In having his 23-fight knockout streak snapped, Golovkin (37-0, 33 knockouts) proved for the first time that he can win a 12-round fight on the cards. He also showed—in what’s likely another first—he’s capable of beating a truly elite middleweight with top-end power. 

IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook was sharp when he moved up to middleweight to fight Golovkin last September, and held a slim lead on the cards when the fight was stopped in the fifth, but he wasn’t causing Triple-G any significant damage. Golovkin, on the other hand, had broken the natural welterweight’s eye socket, which led to the stoppage. 

Jacobs, of course, is no welterweight. Not only does he have elite power for a middleweight (32-2 with 29 career knockouts) but after weighing in at 159.8 pounds on Friday, the Brownsville, Brooklyn native skipped Saturday’s mandatory I.B.F. weigh-in, aimed to verifying that both fighters are within 10 pounds of the required weight limit. So while Golovkin was 169.6 pounds on Saturday morning, there was no telling what Jacobs weighed when he stepped into the ring. 

Some reports had Jacobs at 178 or higher. 

Golovkin wasn’t complaining afterwards, instead choosing to rank Jacobs as the best boxer he’s ever faced, regardless of any perceived weight advantage. 

“He is my toughest fighter,” Golovkin said. “I can’t destroy him. He’s a very good fighter. This was my first test for 12 rounds.” (And as if that wasn’t enough, Golovkin also called 30-year-old cancer survivor his “favorite fighter.”)

It may have been the first time that Golovkin, who has never been knocked down as a professional or amateur, looked like someone who had just been in a fight. Usually he’s a little sweaty in post-fight interviews, but on Sunday morning, Golovkin’s face was red and somewhat swollen. 

It’s a testament to the strength Jacobs maintained throughout the fight. 

Even after being knocked down in the fourth round, Jacobs seemed to get stronger in the 10th and 11th, occasionally switching to a southpaw stance and using his right jab to create some room to work. 

In fact, Jacobs landed 144 power punches to Golovkin’s 126, according to CompuBox. And even though Triple-G outscored Jacobs on jabs, 105 to 31, Saturday’s was a difficult fight to score. 

"After the knockdown I told him he had to kill me," Jacobs said. "When I got up, I thought 'this is all he has?' There were many times during the fight I went toe-to-toe because I knew I could. I got back up and I thought I won the fight ... and all I can do is be gracious in the decision.”

He may have lost, but Jacobs earned a chance at a rematch (Golovkin said he’s open to the idea). And if nothing else, he endeared himself to boxing fans everywhere by becoming the first fighter to ever match the ferocious Golovkin, blow for blow. 

“At times, I stood toe to toe with him to see what everybody was talking about and it wasn’t that bad,” he added. “I’ve gained a lot of fans with this fight. My style is very good and I can look forward to the future.”

That future will likely depend on which road Golovkin takes. 

Afterwards Loeffler said that “Kazakhstan wants him to fight over there” before mentioning WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders and WBO light middleweight belt holder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. 

That could mean a unification bout against Saunders in Kazakhstan this June before a major payday against Canelo sometime next winter. 

Of course, that depends on whether or not Canelo defeats Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas this May. 

“There’s nothing that’s been finalized,” Loeffler said when asked about Saunders and Golovkin’s hope to unify the middleweight crowns. “He’s made it clear he wants to unify the titles and he’s made it clear he wants the Canelo fight. We’ll see who actually steps up and agrees to get in the ring with him”

Whenever Golovkin does step into the ring next, he may be considered the world’s best fighter, pound for pound. 

That distinction belonged to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1, 38 knockouts) before the Nicaraguan legend was upset by Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 knockouts), who won a controversial majority decision and Gonzalez’s WBC world super flyweight title in Saturday’s co-main event. 

After suffering a first-round knockdown, Gonzalez appeared to regain control of the fight over the remaining 11 frames, and even benefitted when Rungvisai was penalized a point for a head butt. 

And Gonzalez was far more active against Rungvisai, connecting 441 punches to the challenger’s 284, including a 372-to-277 advantage on power shots. 

Regardless, Rungvisai stunned the 19,939 in attendance—many of whom brought Nicaraguan flags—by becoming just the second boxer to ever knock Gonzalez down, not to mention the first to ever beat Chocolatito. 

"I'm a little dinged up but I thought I won the fight,” Gonzalez said. “I want an immediate rematch and to win my belt back.”

As disappointed as Gonzalez is about the loss, it may not be the worst thing for him. Prior to Saturday, the four-weight class world champion was seen as unbeatable. Now Rungvisai has breathed life into the super flyweight division, which is usually overlooked by the public. Following Saturday’s bloody upset, when Gonzalez struggled with a cut above his right eye, there might be a bigger audience should these two ever decide to get back into the ring together. 

And in that sense, there really weren’t any losers on Saturday night—at least not in the two main events. 

 

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