Saturday’s big middleweight contest between WBA, WBC and IBF champion Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs had plenty of hype and it lived up to it.
The usually-dominant GGG has built a sizeable following on the back of 23 straight knockout victories and yet, the final piece of his box office puzzle arrived in his last two bouts wherein Golovkin has finally been made to look somewhat ordinary.
Last autumn, welterweight Kell Brook exposed a number of flaws in the previously-untouchable technical game before succumbing as expected to the power chasm between the two. And at Madison Square Garden this past weekend, Jacobs had a fair number of observers adamant he had done enough over 12 rounds even though he dropped a unanimous decision on the night.
A combination of Gennady’s KO run being halted and Jacobs’ incredible backstory of overcoming bone cancer and paralysis to get to where he is today appeared to inject a little emotional bias into some – Golovkin led the punch land stats in the fight and there’s a difference between not looking your best and being second best. Nonetheless, Daniel ran him close and there’s certainly interest and justification in a rematch.
Of course, we are just six months away from the long-predicted Golovkin vs Saul Alvarez megafight that really should have taken place sooner. Going by a top fighter’s regular schedule of two bouts a year, that’d make Canelo next for GGG.
Golovkin’s last two performances may well have Golden Boy Promotions pretty eager to get the Kazakh in the ring, but which of the two is more likely to actually happen: the Canelo clash or another meeting with Jacobs?
Well, there’s actually a third option on the table. One that Golovkin favours over both of the above scenarios. And that would be to fight Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders to unify the division once and for all.
“Saunders is my dream fight,” said Golovkin after outpointing Jacobs at Madison Square Garden. “It is my ambition to take from him the only belt I am missing.”
Understandably, Billy Joe is as keen on the bout as Gennady.
“I’ll travel anywhere,” Saunders said. “I’m not bothered about fighting him in Kazakhstan—I’ll fight him in a field for all I care.”
“He wants the WBO belt and I’m willing to put it on the line,” continued Saunders. “Golovkin is strong but he can be outfoxed. A boxer always beats a puncher and he has never faced anyone as awkward or tricky as me.
“I’ve seen faults and flaws in him that I know I can take advantage of. I want to see how good I really am. In my own head, I know I am capable of beating him.”
It looks like the Saunders-Golovkin unification bout is already in preliminary talks, and could happen on either fighter’s home turf.
“We will sit down with Saunders’ camp and see how realistic it is to go to Kazakhstan,’ said Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter.
“But the O2 sold out in eleven minutes when Gennady fought Kell Brook last year so the UK is always an option.”