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Jacobs was inspired by Ward’s performance against Kovalev

By Allan Fox: In what has to be seen as a bad sign for the March 18 fight between IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) and Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) if you were hoping for an exciting crowd-pleasing fight, Jacobs has added trainer Virgil Hunter to his training team, and he’s saying that his fighter Andre Ward’s performance against Sergey Kovalev has “inspired” him.

The reason why it’s not good news for boxing fans is the fact that Ward smothered Kovalev’s offense all night long by wrestling with him to keep him from getting his shots off. Ward briefly tried to fight Kovalev like he’d done with his three previous opponents, but after getting dropped in the 2nd round, Ward went into the wrestling mode and stayed there for the remainder of the night.

Jacobs is moving his entire training team to Virgil Hunter’s gym in Oakland, California. That move suggests that Jacobs wants to learn from the brain that designed the game plan for Ward to neutralize Kovalev’s high powered offense. Golovkin and Kovalev have nothing in common in terms of their fighting styles though, but it might not matter. If the idea is for Jacobs to learn how to hold, maul and smother Golovkin for 12 rounds, then Hunter is clearly the guy to learn from. I think that’s the only thing that I can see positive about Jacobs being trained by Hunter.

The things that Ward has been able to do earlier in his career in terms of hand speed, movement and pot shotting his opponents, you can’t really teach that. You’ve got to have the physical skills to fight like that, which is why Hunter’s other fighters he’s trained haven’t been able to do what Ward has done. You’ve got to be born with that ability. But the one area that Hunter CAN teach is the wrestling skills. Jacobs is in the right place to learn that part of the game from Hunter.

Jacobs said this to about Ward’s performance against Kovalev and about Hunter:
“I went to the Andre Ward-Kovalev fight and I was so inspired by what Andre Ward was able to do,” Jacobs said. “My thing is to do the best that I can do and for my team to come up with the perfect strategies, Plan A, Plan B and Plan C if need be. I think I’ll be good,” said Jacobs.

The Plan-A for Jacobs might involve him trying to drop a bomb on Golovkin like he did with Peter Quillin in his 1st round knockout win in December 2015. If Jacobs can hurt Golovkin with a single shot, he might try and flurry on him like he did with Quillin. I think that would be a stupid thing for Jacobs to do, because it could get him knocked out almost immediately.

If Jacobs squares himself up and lets his bombs fly, Golovkin is going to have a great chance of ringing his bell with one of his hard left hooks. If Jacobs gets hit with it without seeing it coming, the fight will be over. If you look at the fights where Jacobs gets hurt, he doesn’t recover well. He’s hurt after he gets stunned and very vulnerable. Jacobs’ Plan-B will likely involve the wrestling mode that he learns from trainer Virgil Hunter.
I think it’s pretty obvious that Jacobs is going to try and maul Golovkin like Ward did with Kovalev.

It’s going to be a lot tougher for Jacobs to pull this off in a successful manner, because if you’re not an accomplished mauler/wrestler, you can’t exactly learn that style in one training camp unless you’re extremely bright and take to the smothering style like a duck does to water. It could backfire on Jacobs if he gets tired himself from the holding/wrestling that he does in the fight. Once Jacobs gets tired, he’ll lose the only advantage that he has and that’s his hand speed. Jacobs has a little more hand speed than Golovkin.

I wouldn’t say that the soon to be 30-year-old Jacobs has big advantage in speed, but he’s got a little advantage. If he starts wrestling and does that round after round without being penalized or disqualified for the excessive holding, his arms could turn to rubber from using that style. Being a former high school wrestler myself, you get tired by the 3rd period. Wrestling for 12 rounds would be a nightmare. If Jacobs plans on turning the fight with Golovkin into quicksand or a deep pile of snow by holding him for 12 rounds, it’s going to be a terrible fight to watch and it might not work out for Jacobs.

“I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can,” said Jacobs about Hunter. “This is the ultimate opponent and I’m going to be a super-sponge and capitalize and learn whatever I can to defeat this guy.”

Golovkin has obviously seen it all in the amateur and pro ranks when it comes to different fight strategies that his opponents have tried against him. The movement that different opponents have tried has failed to work against him. The one thing that Golovkin hasn’t had to deal with yet is an opponent that mauls/wrestles him for 12 rounds. We saw how Golovkin’s offense was neutralized in the 2004 Olympics’ by Russia’s Gaydarbek Gaydarbekov, who wrestled him for four rounds to beat him by a 28-18 score to win the Olympic gold medal.

With Gaydarbekov grabbing him and wrestling the entire fight, Golovkin barely had a chance to throw anything. It looked like Golovkin won the fight, but it was definitely a hard fight for him because of the Russian fighter doing nothing but wrestling. The scoring was terrible and the referee was invisible, doing nothing literally in the fight to control and penalize the nonstop wrestling from Gaydarbekov.

If Hunter sees that fight or knows about it, he might help put together a strategy for Jacobs to just tie up Golovkin for 12 rounds, and hope that he can win the fight that way. It would be like stalling the fight out for 12 rounds by making sure there was no way that punches could be thrown except for the short variety while being held.

The wrestling that Andre Ward did against Kovalev did seem to be work in tiring out the Russian fighter. Kovalev obviously had never had to fight an opponent like that in his pro career that was committed to wrestling the entire fight. Kovalev found out the hard way how difficult it is to grapple for nine rounds. Ward didn’t start the holding and wrestling until the 3rd round.

Once it was clear that Ward didn’t have the boxing skills or the punching power to actually fight Kovalev, he then switched to his Plan-B and turned the fight into a prolonged wrestling match. The referee obviously should have stepped in and penalized Ward for the holding and perhaps disqualified him if he continued to hold, but he wasn’t doing anything about it. Kovalev had no space to throw anything, because he kept getting grabbed by Ward.

The fight was incredibly boring, which is why I find it funny to hear Ward’s promoter Michael Yormark saying that he thinks the rematch between Ward an Kovalev will bring in better PPV numbers on HBO than the first fight. I totally disagree. I think the boxing fans that saw the fight know what the rematch will be like in terms of nonstop wrestling by Ward for 12 rounds, and I think the fans will stay away like the plague rather than paying their hard-earned money on watching more of the mauling. Boxing fans like to see actual fighting. If they want to see that kind of fighting that involves holding and mauling, they can watch MMA, and at least with that sport there are some kicks and knees involved in the stand-up when one guy is choosing to hold nonstop.

Jacobs would be better off using his combination punching and speed to try and flurry on Golovkin like he did against Quillin. I think that’s a better approach than trying to maul Golovkin for 12 rounds. I think mauling will work for Jacobs without him having used it for many years. You don’t become a 12 round mauler overnight without having worked at it from day one. I don’t think it works that way.

In looking at Jacobs’ past fights where he used movement, he was never good at doing that. Jacobs seems to lose his punching power when he runs around the ring. If you look at how Jacobs moved in his 5th round knockout loss to Dmitry Pirog in 2010, the movement seemed to take the power from Jacobs’ shots. He was not able to generate power when he was on the move. Jacobs looked tired by the 5th round, because he was running so much from Pirog. It was stupid plan for Jacobs to run, because he doesn’t have the stamina or the ability to sit down on his shots to move constantly. It was easy pickings for Pirog.

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