By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has something of a Mike Tyson aura about him, acknowledged Daniel "Miracle Man" Jacobs, but don't expect the challenger to feel intimidated in their title clash on Saturday.
The unbeaten Golovkin, nicknamed Triple G, has knocked out 33 of 36 opponents including the last 23, but Jacobs has survived a far more dangerous threat -- bone cancer. And coming through that ordeal six years ago has given him strength.
"I’m a more mentally strong fighter. He’s not cancer," Jacobs told reporters before this week's final news conference ahead of their Madison Square Garden showdown.
Jacobs, a Brooklynite with an impressive 32-1 record of his own with 29 knockouts, has a height and likely weight advantage over Golovkin, but has been rated a 7-1 long-shot against the holder of the WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO belts.
"Once again having my back against the wall, having everyone doubt me. I’m reliving those moments, the same thought process, same feelings, questioning myself," Jacobs said, recalling his treatments, rehab and comeback after being sidelined 18 months.
"I was 23, 24 years old then. I'm 30 now. It’s instilled in me -- I believe in myself. I believe in what I can do."
Golovkin has never wanted for confidence, dominating the middleweight class despite being relatively undersized in the 160-pound division.
A relentless aggressor, he cuts off the ring to close in and punish opponents with a brutal arsenal of left hooks and power rights.
Golovkin, 34, stopped unbeaten welterweight champion Kell Brook in the fifth round of his September fight in London, but was stunned by an uppercut in the second round and absorbed many shots from the sharp-punching Englishman.
The champion said Brook lacked threatening power, leading him to let down his defense and concentrate on his attack, fracturing the challenger's eye socket in the process.
Golovkin said he was taking Jacobs more seriously.
“I know he has good boxing IQ. Looks good in his last fights. Right is good, left is good. Everything is good," said Golovkin, keen to stay on track for a lucrative potential showdown against Canelo Alvarez.
Jacobs is bigger and faster than Golovkin and hits harder than many of the Kazakh's previous victims. But Jacobs concedes some fighters appear wary of him once in the ring.
"We’ve seen it a lot in Mike Tyson fights. Guys become totally different fighters," Jacobs said, noting how some look nervous or fidgety.
Jacobs has gone to lengths to prepare, setting up camp in the Bay Area to work with light-heavyweight champion Andre Ward and get conditioning advice from former BALCO chief Victor Conte, and used former junior-welterweight champion Chris Algieri as a nutritionist.
"I’m not going to be intimidated," said Jacobs.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)