Fight Report: Golovkin vs Jacobs

Gennady Golovkin‘s 23-fight knockout streak and aura of menacing invincibility left him mired in a catch-22 with boxing fans: continue to win in dominant, punishing fashion and hear the chorus of “he hasn’t fought elite competition,” or persevere through a competitive contest and have legions of fans and pundits assert, just weeks shy of turning 35, that he’s a declining champion.

Even the prospect of facing and defeating Canelo Alvarez doesn’t come with any assurances. If Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) were to pulverize Alvarez, many would eagerly denounce the Mexican’s credentials. If Golovkin were to lose, the reverse would happen, not to mention some revisionists questioning Golovkin’s entire title reign up to that point.

So, what do boxing fans really want from Gennady Golovkin? Triple G’s performances were beginning to fall into the category of reliability alongside death and taxes, and while the Kazakh star was always enthralling to watch and eager to entertain fans at the expense of eating a few flush shots, the public may have gotten complacent without realizing it. How much have we actually revelled in what Golovkin’s accomplished? Have we been perpetually looking ahead at the expense of appreciating what we’ve witnessed since his Stateside debut in 2012?

There are no easy answers to such questions, but the reason they need asking is because of Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs), who vastly exceeded expectations in pushing Gennady Golovkin the distance for the first time ever in a championship bout. The way Golovkin-Jacobs unfolded shouldn’t be all about the supposedly superior fighter’s deficiencies; rather, Jacobs, with his crisp boxing, committed punching, and controlled movement, proved that he’s an elite fighter.

And yet, one shouldn’t shy away from critically assessing Gennady Golovkin’s performance. Golovkin seemed overly respectful of Jacobs’ punching power, and he appeared far too content to head-hunt after flooring Jacobs in round four with a pair of right hands. But where was Golovkin’s vaunted left hook to the body? How come there were only fleeting glimpses of him fully committing to his punches? Was his significant dip in volume a natural product of the fight’s tempo, or a more a result of an inability to pull the trigger with total confidence?

All that said, there were things Golovkin did well, and it’s unfortunate that these positives have gotten overshadowed by the fact that he didn’t dominate Jacobs. Golovkin employed his devastating jab to excellent effect, out-landing Jacobs 105-31 and out-throwing him 356-170 with that punch. His movement was as controlled and precise as ever, although his cutting off of the ring proved less effective because of his hesitation to throw body shots and combinations. Also, Golovkin proved sturdy as ever when absorbing Jacobs’ fusillades and was never seriously hurt.

While Jacobs landed more power shots (144-126), Golovkin still connected with the more damaging blows, including the aforementioned knockdown, as well as a sharp, stinging right uppercut. If Golovkin and Jacobs fought on even terms with regards to actually committing to their power punches, Triple G separated himself via his jab and ability to stalk the challenger. The problem with this from a fan’s perspective, however, is that Golovkin’s subtler skills were more prominently displayed against Jacobs than his highlight-reel ones; typically, the opposite is true.

One somewhat disconcerting aspect of the fight was that Gennady Golovkin seemed to lack urgency. Whether that was due to a genuine struggle to solve a more complicated puzzle than expected in Daniel Jacobs, or simply not having a concrete Plan B to rely on, is unclear. What was evident, however, is that Golovkin, for perhaps the first time, was unable to accomplish three characteristic things: completely disarm an opponent’s most effective weapon(s), turn his foe completely reactive, and set a punishing pace.

Golovkin never remotely seem gassed, but the majority of his punches lacked characteristic snap. Indeed, plenty of these off-speed blows were intentional, but his typical sledgehammer effect with his shots was only consistently evident with his jab. Again, much of this was because of the respect owed to Daniel Jacobs (who certainly deserves to be fought with a certain degree of caution), but it was clear that many (definitely not all) of the signals Golovkin’s genius boxing IQ were sending to his fists kept getting scrambled.

Jacobs surprised almost everyone, including GGG.
Jacobs surprised almost everyone, including GGG.

Despite these considerations, Golovkin-Jacobs was a compelling fight that warrants a rematch in the near, but not immediate, future. Also, give Golovkin credit for closing strong in a brutal twelfth round and for scoring that early knockdown. While the fight did not approach the scintillating slugfest waged by Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Thai banger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, it was a memorable, tension-filled battle between elite middleweights.

Also, don’t discount the class, sportsmanship, and refreshing honesty Gennady Golovkin showed in his post-fight interview. Even though Golovkin’s victory was a subdued performance by his exceptional standards, nothing that happened Saturday night should dissuade fight fans from following Golovkin regardless of who he can lure into the ring. And that becomes an even more important thing to remember and relish as Golovkin moves onto the second step of what will be his career’s climactic arc.

Zachary Alapi 

12 thoughts on “Fight Report: Golovkin vs Jacobs

  • March 19, 2017 at 11:09 pm
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    I’m pretty sure Jacobs weight had a lot to do with the fight. Jacobs didn’t even weigh in and was at least 10lbs heavier probably more. Gennady shouldn’t have even fought at such a disadvantage but he did and he won. I think he did pretty amazing against the bigger fighter.

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    • March 20, 2017 at 4:27 am
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      I’m hearing he was every bit closer to 185 or above.

      GGG team said if he unifies he will vacate a title, my guess it will be the IBF and WBO. So he doesn’t get gamed on weight again.

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    • March 21, 2017 at 4:55 am
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      Didn’t GGG just fight a Welterweight last fight it was a close fight either way but let’s cut the weight crap!

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  • March 20, 2017 at 2:42 am
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    I am surprised and disappointed that you failed to point out how Chocolatito’s loss was such a blatant victory.

    Gonzalez deserves more recognition than just one line in this article. He is a much better fighter than either Golovkin or Jacobs. Round 4 of his fight was masterful boxing.

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    • March 20, 2017 at 4:28 am
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      He was superb. After the damage done to him and the size disparity.

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      • March 20, 2017 at 8:19 am
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        Over 50% connect percentage for Gonzalez. Amazing.

        Concerning Jacobs, he has undeniable qualities, but some major flaws. He cannot make a 3 punch combination without ending up totally off balance. Golovkin is good, but he shines in the face of weak opposition. Through a Marvin Hagler in his prime and he would be crushed!

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    • March 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm
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      We actually have someone working on a piece about that fight. We hope to have it up soon.

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  • March 20, 2017 at 2:43 am
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    Sorry, I meant “robbery” not “victory!

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  • March 20, 2017 at 4:32 am
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    Great article. I agree with most of it.

    I actually don’t agree with the official scores. GGG landed more through 9 rounds. I could have easily see it as GGG winning 8 rounds, plus the knockdown.

    Jacobs fought well, but I wonder if he would have done so well without all the extra weight.

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  • March 20, 2017 at 2:48 pm
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    A memorable fight (Roman – Srisaket), but nothing else to be mentioned? Who did really win this bout?

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  • March 20, 2017 at 7:08 pm
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    I was at the fight at MSG, my first live fight. Though my seats weren’t terrible, I found I watched the screen for a lot of it but the switching back and forth may have skewed the details. So from this perspective (without commentary and punch stats), both the fights were very close. My buddy and I thought Chocolatito squeaked by with a victory. The Thai corner obviously thought they were comfortably ahead as he stayed far away in the 12th round. It seemed the Thai fighter was in his natural weight and Chocolatito was a little bloated, his punching power was not as effective in backing off his opponent. Chocolatito’s combinations and handspeed were connecting with flush shots that would’ve knocked out his previous opponents. As for the Golovkin fight, I will preface this by saying I was/am a GGG fan. Jacobs came in looking noticeably larger than Golovkin. The article is bang on, he seemed tentative and lacked any snap to his punches, almost as if he just couldn’t get into rhythm or get the distance right. At the end, we thought it was very possible that Jacobs would get the decision by a slim margin. Like I said though the decisions could’ve gone either way. Though the fans shouldn’t have booed the Thai fighter like they did, he fought well. MSG is a great venue, I’d say if you go, pay extra for the good seats.

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