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Jacobs thrills, but loses to Golovkin in competitive bout

Daniel Jacobs Gennady Golovkin

By Godfrey Falcon: Last Saturday, March 18th, showcased what has so far been the most anticipated boxing matchup of 2017. In a thrilling and back-and-forth bout at the Madison Square Garden in New York, Danny “Miracle Man” Jacobs (32-2) lost to Gennady “GGG” Golovkin via a 12 round unanimous Decision. The final scorecards of 113-114, 112-115, and 112-115 indicated a competitive match, something many boxing analysts did not expect.

The popular prediction was a Golovkin victory by stoppage, and why not – considering it’s something he has accomplished 23 times in a row. But Danny Jacobs pulled off a miracle that night, albeit not the one he wanted: he beat everybody’s expectations by surviving to the final bell against Gennady Golovkin, and performed far better than any analyst’s predictions. Unfortunately, he came up just a tad short of the ultimate miracle, and lost a close, yet convincing decision.

While the legend of Golovkin’s knockout power may have faded after that night, what only the keenest of boxing observers may take away from his performance might in fact raise his stock in ways we never felt a need to consider. The defining factor to GGG’s victory against Jacobs is his jab. He landed 105 out of an astonishing 356 thrown (29.5%), compared to only 31 out of a still impressive 170 thrown (18.2%) by Jacobs. GGG was spearing Jacobs with the jab all night, with enough authority to snap his head back and keep him honest. And while we must credit Jacobs for taking so many Jabs without getting weak in the knees, despite Jacob’s post fight interview diminishing the power of GGG, it was clear that GGG’s jabs and power punches were the stronger of the two. Only the myth of GGG being the “One Punch Man” has been diminished, and in his place is GGG the boxer, who can go the full distance in a match and orchestrate a disciplined and methodical game plan.

To Jacob’s credit, he slightly out-landed Golovkin in power punches landed, connecting on 144 out of 371 (38.8%), compared to Golovkin’s 126 out of 259 (48.6%), though Golovkin landed more accurately, and with greater authority. Despite punch numbers, two of those Golovkin power shots ended up dropping Jacobs in the 4th round, a knockdown ruling that Jacobs himself did not contest. The less accurate punches of Jacobs, in retrospect, are the result of not many of them landing. Even in his best moments, throwing flurries of power punches at Golovkin, few of them landed, courtesy of Golovkin’s high guard. Upon re-watching the fight, close rounds that I myself gave to Jacobs, I ended up giving to Golovkin, after the aggression that Jacobs displayed was revealed to be mostly ineffective. The main takeaway for Jacobs is that while he was throwing his combinations, Golovkin wasn’t throwing, perhaps indicating that Golovkin indeed respected the punching power of his American opponent. Jacobs moved well, and Golovkin cut off the ring well. He just did not unload to the body as we’re so previously accustomed to seeing him, against possible testament to his wariness of the power Jacob’s punches possessed.

The perception that Golovkin lost the match is largely in part his own reputation’s doing: that of a one-punch wrecking machine. If ever a bout concluded wherein a knockout or referee stoppage did not occur, then it looks as if Golovkin was unsuccessful. In reality, this is not something that a fight result is predicated upon. Whatever mythology a fighter enters the ring with, it is only he and his opponent at the end of the day (and the referee). Jacobs, the “Miracle Man”, himself having a reputation of being a knockout artist, did very well in this fight. A clear case can be made for him being the second best middleweight in the world. However, boxing fans cannot neglect this unmistakable and heavily overlooked fact: Gennady Golovkin is also the only fighter Jacob’s has fought who has gone the full 12 rounds against him. Every other fighter in Jacob’s path, barring the immensely talented but retired Dmitry Pirog (20-0) who defeated him by TKO back in 2010, has lost to Jacobs. Danny is that good. For a fighter with 29 knockouts out of 32 victories, to have an opponent not only fight a competitive match with him, but knock him down and force him to fight with everything he has until he collapses into the ropes at the closing bell due to exhaustion, that is one hell of an opponent.

What is next for Jacobs? A rematch against Golovkin would probably be his best option. However, considering that he was much bigger than GGG when they fought, moving up to 168 would be a viable option. With his skill, Jacobs could probably be a champion there within a year. Golovkin has the greater options of the two, as he has a tentative mega-match against Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1). Should roadblocks hinder that fight from materializing, other fights against WBO Middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders (24-0) or Chris Eubank Jr. (24-1), both from the UK, can be made. Is he on the decline? Golovkin proved that he had just enough to overcome tough competition in Jacobs. Can he do so consistently? Nearly 35 years of age, the prime of his boxing career is ending. Is this the best GGG can get? Will he get better still? Or will he start declining, if it hasn’t started already? And if it has, how dramatically will his decline be? Time will tell, but with him and Daniel Jacobs in the mix, the middleweight division of boxing has a bright future indeed. And the biggest winners are us, the boxing fans.

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