Daniel Jacobs deserves credit for running straight to Gennady Golovkin, but his bravery could be his downfall

Steve Bunce
The Independent
34-year-old Kazakh Golovkin is yet to be beaten: Getty
34-year-old Kazakh Golovkin is yet to be beaten: Getty

Triple G is very cool.

The last time Gennady Golovkin heard the final bell was nine years and twenty-three fights ago on an obscure night in a part of his career that has long since faded from memory.

Golovkin was fighting in Denmark that night, happy to fight anywhere a promoter was willing to put on yet another refugee from the vanished Soviet boxing machine. Golovkin was part of an anonymous group of talented boxers from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in search of a boxing home somewhere in Europe and, to be brutally honest, he offered little more than a record of excellence in the amateur system.

Golovkin won a silver medal at the Athens Olympics, a gold at the Asian Games and a gold at the World Championships in Bangkok in 2003. He lost just five times in 350 fights wearing a vest. However, there are Russians and Ukrainians with more impressive records.

After the points win in Brondby against Frenchman Amar Amari, who slipped away into the boxing twilight a few months later, Golovkin started the unbeaten sequence, feasting on victims for another year or so and beginning his world title reign one night in Panama in 2010. It took Golovkin 58-seconds to win the WBA middleweight belt.

He was still just off the radar and he was still competing with other middleweights called Sergei and Dmitri as well as Germans and British boxers, all twirling in a seemingly endless procession of fights for titles. It was a shameless period of smash-and-grab raids on the four championship belts and their often pointless tributaries.

Golovkin talked of pride and of just one recognised champion but nobody seemed to listen or care.

Golovkin fighting as an amateur, in 2003 (Getty)
Golovkin fighting as an amateur, in 2003 (Getty)

Too many fights and a dozen champions came and went as Golovkin — in boxing's answer to wrestling's last-man-standing event — either embarrassed them into retirement or battered them in the ring. "I give big drama show," he said in 2015. That he did.

Golovkin is mean as a fighter, cold in the boxing ring and, as the challengers were either dropped or beaten, they all offered testimony to his brilliance. It is a rare dossier of breathless endorsements from a collection of very proud boxers.

On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, a venue heavy with the sweat from so many glorious championship fights, Golovkin will make the 18th defence of his middleweight title when he meets Brooklyn's Daniel Jacobs.

Golvokin is now one of the finest boxers in the world (Getty)
Golvokin is now one of the finest boxers in the world (Getty)

It is not another slaughter for the smiling Kazakh; Jacobs holds a version of the world title and is on a run of twelve consecutive knockouts.

Over the last seven years, Golovkin has collected the various belts in title fights in six different countries and will wear no fewer than three when he enters the ring to fight Jacobs. It is fighters like Golovkin that expose the trickery, fakery and absurdity of the men that govern boxing at the increasingly irrelevant sanctioning bodies: Golovkin is unbeaten in 36 — 33 ending quickly — and a win against Jacobs will elevate his position forever, beyond the reach of any future foolishness by any sanctioning body.

Jacobs overcame cancer in his spine, wheeled himself to the gym, then hobbled on crutches to the same sacred place of recovery to hit the bag and somehow get his licence back. He is known as the Miracle Man and, unlike so many middleweight champions in the last seven years, he has run straight to Golovkin.

There are few men in boxing as brave as Jacobs (Getty)
There are few men in boxing as brave as Jacobs (Getty)

"It's no good talking garbage about being 'old school' and then not fighting the best - he's the best and I am old school," insists Jacobs. The New Yorker has lost just once in 33 fights and has stopped or knocked out 29 of his victims. He is four years younger, two inches taller and fearless.

I suspect that age and height will not be a factor and that the local fighter's bravery will be his downfall; beating Golovkin requires brains over desire, a slippery approach and not an adrenaline-fuelled night of guts. A fighter like Marvin Hagler would have risked standing toe-to-toe and bleeding for their cause against Golovkin; men like Jacobs need a bit more guile.

Golovkin is a modern treasure, an artist with as many raw skills as subtle hidden gems and watching him dissect opponents is truly a trip down memory lane, to a time when the thinking-fighter was king. Jacobs will make every second he is standing memorable and that is exactly how a middleweight world title should be at the Garden.

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