Extending his career-long winning streak to 37, Gennady Golovkin defended the WBA (super), WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight titles with a unanimous-decision victory over Daniel Jacobs on Saturday.
This was the first time in Golovkin's 11-year career that he ever went to a 12th round. His three previous decision victories were eight-round fights, with the last one coming in June 2008.
|Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs Scorecards|
Things started off slowly for Golovkin, who seemed to be feeling his way through the fight in the first three rounds. The fourth round is when he took charge, dropping Jacobs with a hard right hand, and he appeared to have things under control.
Former middleweight champion Sergio Mora summed up the rhythm of this fight perfectly:
Sergio Mora @TheLatinSnake_
Fights like these start slow & explode with one punch. #GGGJacobs2017-3-19 04:25:55
Jacobs did not go quietly during the middle rounds. He came out aggressive and attacking in the seventh and eighth to narrow things up on the scorecard.
In the ninth, Golovkin again attempted to take back control. He was landing hard combinations and appeared to have Jacobs staggering before the bell stopped the action.
Aside from the fourth-round knockdown, there was never really a moment when Golovkin looked to be on the verge of stopping the fight.
Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports even went so far as to believe the fear Golovkin once instilled in opponents no longer exists:
Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS
Kell Brook. Danny Jacobs. The Golovkin train rolls along, but one thing has definitely emerged: The GGG mystique/fear is gone.2017-3-19 04:56:30
Bloody Elbow took things even further than that, believing Jacobs won the fight before the judges offered their assessment:
Bloody Elbow @BloodyElbow
That's a wrap. I have it 115-112 Jacobs and I can't see an argument for Golovkin winning. Unbelievable. GGG's KO streak is over. #GGGJacobs2017-3-19 04:52:58
Per CompuBox stats (via ESPN Stats & Info), Golovkin did have the advantage in strikes landed and overall accuracy:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Final CompuBox stats: Golovkin 233-of-618 (38%) Jacobs 176-of-542 (32%)2017-3-19 05:06:08
Golovkin was in an interesting spot coming into the fight. Boxing fans and analysts are anticipating a showdown between him and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, which is being planned for September, but both fighters have scheduled bouts before that megafight.
Golovkin's promoter, Tom Loeffler, told reporters in January his client has been frustrated because fighters like Alvarez are choosing not to fight him, per Bryan Armen Graham of The Guardian:
He wants to show he’s the best. The only way he can do that is to fight the best. There have been some criticisms about some of the opponents on his résumé, but it’s certainly not anything to do with our side. You can’t force someone to get in the ring with him. All we can do is make offers. We give Kell Brook a ton of credit because when three of the top middleweights in the world turned down the opportunity to fight Gennady, he stepped up and he took the same exact deal that was on the table for Eubank.
While Alvarez still has more than a month before his bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Golovkin can sit back and wait for his rival to take care of things.
Jacobs was more than just a stopgap opponent. He entered the match with a 32-1 career record, including 29 knockouts. The 30-year-old has also become a great story in the sport, overcoming bone cancer to become the first cancer survivor to win a boxing world championship in 2014.
Jacobs was ranked as the No. 2 middleweight fighter in the world by ESPN's Dan Rafael. This wasn't a case of Golovkin taking an easy challenger to stay in shape for the big fight later this year.
Yet it's a testament to Golovkin's drive and skill he was able to take on a star like Jacobs and keep his perfect record intact with this victory.
Golovkin has been an unstoppable machine since his career started in 2006, but Jacobs was not going to be a pushover, which showed in the final result.
If Golovkin was using Jacobs to send a message to Alvarez, it didn't entirely pan out since he looked vulnerable at times. But a win is a win.
The onus now shifts to Canelo's team and trying to make the match fans have been clamoring for. There are no more excuses for either side to put this off while they are still in their prime years.
Golovkin was showering Jacobs with praise after escaping with his perfect record and middleweight titles intact.
"I respect Daniel Jacobs, and he did a very good job and clean job," Golovkin said, per ESPN's Dan Rafael. "Daniel Jacobs is my favorite fighter -- quality, very good fighter after I knocked him down. I respect his team."
Golovkin didn't lament the end of his knockout streak.
"I wasn't thinking that I needed the 12th round to win the fight," he said, per Rafael. "This was my first test at 12 rounds. I needed a quality fight, not just the 12 rounds."
Jacobs went so far as to say Golovkin only got the decision because the sport wants Golovkin-Alvarez to happen.
"I think I won the fight, and I think the fans support me," Jacobs said, per Rafael. "I think I won by two rounds at least. They want the big fight [for Golovkin against Canelo Alvarez], and Daniel Jacobs got X'd out. I won the fight and I won the decision, and all I can do is be gracious in the decision."