On March 18th, boxing's most feared fighter Gennady Golovkin will be taking on Brooklyn's Daniel Jacobs at boxing's Mecca Madison Square Garden on HBO PPV. It is being billed as the fight between boxing's two best middleweights, and in many ways, it is. Both fighters are well-groomed professionals with highly decorated amateur backgrounds, and both have earned their spot the hard way. Both have great skill, great will, and both guys can crack.
There isn't really much new to say about Gennady Golovkin. Anyone even slightly tuned into the sport will have heard of the unstoppable middleweight kingpin GGG. But here's a statement that might not be all that popular amongst his fans:
Gennady Golovkin has not actually faced the elite contenders of the sport.
This is not necessarily his fault. He's certainly appeared available and willing to face top contenders, and much of the reluctance comes from the other side. But the fact still remains that the best name on Golovkin's resume is probably David Lemieux, who himself turned out to be somewhat of a Canadian hype-job, and though it's true that Kell Brook is considered of an elite caliber, that distinction applies to a division two weight classes below. Even Golovkin himself admits that his upcoming bout with Jacobs will likely be the best opponent he's fought to date.
"I understand this is a very good opponent for me and a very serious fight—two champions. He's not a fake. He had a very good amateur career. His last couple of fights have been good against good guys," Golovkin told the LA Times. "This guy, he's more dangerous and much, much better than anyone I've faced. He's my best opponent. For boxing, it's dangerous. For my future, it's dangerous."
Jacobs comes in at a very respectable 32-1 record with 29 KOs. Compare that 88% KO ratio with Golovkin's 92% (36-0 with 33KOs) and the fight is a recipe for fireworks. The one loss on his ledger came in a WBO title fight against the undefeated Dmitry Pirog, and it is worth mentioning that Jacobs's grandmother died a week before the bout; the funeral planned for the day after the fight. Jacobs made no excuse about the circumstance, however, just stated "it was just an unfortunate time to have a title fight."
Some readers might also be familiar with Jacobs for his life dealings outside of the ring. In 2011, the boxer was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a serious form of bone cancer that left him nearly paralyzed and absent from the sport for 19 months. Not only did he have to relearn how to box, he also had to relearn how to walk. The ordeal inspired him to change his ring moniker from "The Golden Child" to the "Miracle Man", and has won all 10 of his return bouts within the distance. Jacobs is taking his past challenges into the ring as fuel.
"I haven't come this far to give up," Jacobs said in an interview. "I'm scared of no man, I fear nothing. My back has been against the wall so many times and I've accepted that this is no different. It's a tough challenge but one I look forward to."
The bout is technically defined as a unification bout since Jacobs is the WBA "Regular" champion, and Golovkin is the organization's "Super" version. Golovkin's WBC, IBF and IBO belts will also be on the line, but perhaps the distinction that really matters is that this bout is for a legitimate settlement of who is the best middleweight in boxing.
Now some fans may read the mark "best middleweight in boxing" and wonder why Mexico's Saul "Canelo" Álvarez is not being mentioned in the conversation. It is because though Àlvarez once held the lineal middleweight title, he technically has never been involved in a bout that allowed the opposition to weigh in at the full middleweight limit of 160lbs, and is currently scheduled to fight Julio Cesar Chavez at a catch-weight of 164.5lbs. Add to the fact that his last bout was against the welterweight Amir Khan, and it seems the former champ can't make a decision as to whether he wants to fight as a junior middleweight or a super middleweight. In fact, should Golovkin come out victorious, he's doubtful a Canelo super-fight would follow afterwards.
"I don't believe [Canelo] will be ready for the next fight. He has a Plan B, C, D. Maybe Charlo at 160. Maybe Saunders. Maybe Cotto. Maybe a second fight with Chavez if this fight is close. There's just too much talk," said Golovkin. "His big minus is his promotion, with the 'I'll call you back, I'll call you tomorrow,' ... it's too much. Just tell me, 'G, I need two years,' but all this other talking ... people see it and they all are saying, 'Oh, please, stop.' It's like a bad commercial."
The lack of such talking is actually one thing Golovkin admires in his opponent on March 18th, along with a host of other things.
"I see [Jacobs] as having the same speed, the same boxing IQ," Golovkin said. "It's a very interesting fight, more interesting than the last couple guys for me. And after so much talk – like with Canelo – Daniel just said, 'OK'."
With attitudes like that, combined with the skill, experience and power of both combatants, fight fans are in for a treat March 18th.