Sunday, March 19, 2017

Big Fight Report: Gennady Golovkin’s Reputation Bruised In Big Apple Showdown As Daniel Jacobs is Robbed Of Victory

By Peter Silkov

Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33koes) always says that he loves to provide ‘a big drama show’ for the fans, but last night against Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29koes), his performance should have cost him his title. In the belly of New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden, Gennady Golovkin retained his world middleweight titles (and won Jacobs' WBA regular belt) with a showing that will forever be used against him in future when he is measured against the division's greats. To say that Golovkin was disappointing sounds like sour grapes, and does an injustice to Jacobs' clever, and brave performance. Yet, the sharpness and fire that we have come to expect from Golovkin, was only too clear in its absence last night. He produced only flashes of the finely tuned fistic assassin that he has gained a reputation for being over the length of his title reign. One of the major questions that comes out of this fight, is was Golovkin simply that bad, or Jacobs' that good. In the end, Golovkin seemingly produced enough to secure the win, after being taken the full distance for the first time since 2008, but his aura of invincibility has been left permanently bruised.

The fight itself was not the slam-bang showdown, which many fans were hoping to see, instead we saw an intriguing tactical contest, with some smatterings of good exchanges. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the caution shown by Golovkin. Often praised for being a patient assassin in the ring, against Jacobs, the GGG man’s patience often veered into the bounds of lethargy. When he did finally try to get going, Jacobs proved to be an unwilling accomplice.

The first three rounds of the contest were very quiet, as both men sized each other up, and seemed unwilling to make a mistake. However, it was Jacobs who was the more active, and seemed to do enough to win this first portion of the match, as Golovkin’s usual first round scouting mission stretched well into the 3rd stanza. Jacobs made good use of his seven inch reach advantage over GGG from the start, and his jab would prove to be a problem for Golovkin throughout the night.

In the 4th round, Golovkin seemed to finally flick the switch and go into destruction mode, as there was now purpose in his marauding pursuit of Jacobs. He managed to knockdown Jacobs in the first minute of the round, with a right-left combination, but the knockdown itself was scrappy, as too was Golovkin’s follow up. So often praised for his finishing of wounded opponents, GGG remained sluggish as he tried to finish Jacobs through the rest of the round, allowing himself to be tied up, and generally lacking the finishing spark one would expect from him.

The 5th round was a good one for Golovkin, as he pressured Jacobs, and forced him to hold, but Jacobs at times stood his ground and struck back, and Golovkin still seemed to be biding his time. By the 6th round, Jacobs had not only recovered from the knockdown, but seemed to be growing in confidence. From this point, he used more lateral movement, along with his jab, and made Golovkin look often flat-footed, and slow by comparison. The fight now settled into repetitive groove of Jacobs using movement and his jab to score steadily against the constant pursuit of GGG. There was frequent holding, which often seemed to befuddle Golovkin, whose inside work was poor throughout the fight. Strangely, against a fighter of Jacobs' height and build, GGG’s usual body attack was almost nonexistent, and his jab, so often one of his most potent weapons in past fights, was strongly nullified by Jacobs' own reach and jab.

As the rounds passed, there often seemed to be a lack of urgency from both Golovkin, and his corner. If they felt that it was just a matter of time before he caught Jacobs with a fight-ending power shot...they were sadly mistaken. Sensing that he had already withstood the best GGG had to offer, Jacobs' confidence increased with the passing of the rounds, and at times, he out-boxed GGG with comparative ease. Golovkin’s technical skills were visibly absent on this night as he seemed to struggle with some of the basics. Perhaps the advancing years, and a long run of stoppage victories, have blunted GGG’s boxing skills.

If anything, it was Jacobs who landed some of the fights best punches in the second half of the contest. Showing that he could stand and trade with GGG, as well as out-box him.

Golovkin’s corner finally seemed to wake up after the 11th round, and Golovkin was sent out to do some damage in the 12th and final round. Yet, while he won the round, the action was still close, as the game Jacobs continued to fight back, and many of GGG’s punches were missing their target.

Photo: Fight News
In the end it went to the judge's score cards for the first time in a GGG match since 2008. Scores of 115-112, twice, and 114-113 allowed GGG to retain his world title, but not his reputation as the division's destroyer. While not wanting to take anything away from Jacobs' display, which was aided greatly by his excellent corner, it looks as though at the age of 34, and after lengthy amateur and professional boxing career, GGG is in definite decline. The clues to a decline that were visible against Kell Brook six months ago, were confirmed last night. Golovkin is now two years older than Marvin Hagler was when he lost to Sugar Ray Leonard, yesterday's match was his 17th defence in a title reign going back almost seven years. It should be no surprise that the wear and tear of age and activity seems to be finally taking a toll on GGG.

Ironically, following this unification fight, the middleweight division is now more muddled than it was previously. On the evidence of last night Gennady Golovkin can no longer be considered the clear cut number one in the 160-pound division, and while there will no doubt be increased demands for a Golovkin vs. Canelo contest, the fight that really needs to happen first is a rematch between Golovkin and Jacobs. 

Full Fight:

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