There was much anticipation for Gennady Golovkin’s eighteenth defense of his Middleweight world championship against WBA number one contender Daniel Jacobs on March 18th at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. This fight seemed to have all of the ingredients that make Boxing special. Two hard-hitting boxers looking to prove superiority over not just their opponent, but over the entire Middleweight division. For the champion Gennady Golovkin, the encounter with Jacobs represented not just the eighteenth title defense in a reign that has seen him gradually unify four of five Middleweight world championships, but it also represented the next step in what may ultimately become a historic reign as a World Middleweight champion.
With a victory over Jacobs, it would place Golovkin two successful title defenses shy of tying the all-time Middleweight record for successful title defenses, which was set by future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins between 1995-2005. For Daniel Jacobs, the fight with Golovkin obviously represented the opportunity to become a world champion after previously coming up short in his previous world championship opportunity against Dmitry Pirog in July 2010. Jacobs also held interim/regular championship status in the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) Middleweight ratings for nearly three years and successfully retained his position as the WBA’s top Middleweight contender in four fights from 2014-2016, scoring knockouts in each of those bouts. Jacobs’ long standing as number one contender as well as a record of 32-1, with 29 Knockouts validated him as not only deserving of his opportunity against Golovkin, but one might argue one of the more dangerous opponents that the champion had faced in his career.
Despite the impression that statistics can sometimes give especially when discussing two fighters with career knockout percentages of 92% and 88% respectively, the battle between Golovkin and Jacobs was not the “Shootout” that some had anticipated. As is sometimes the case when two knockout punchers are pitted against each other, the fight between Gennady Golovkin, the long-reigning Middleweight kingpin and Daniel Jacobs was a tactical, but still exciting encounter.
It was clear from early on in the fight that the challenger Jacobs intended to box the champion rather than engaging in a toe to toe slugfest. What I liked about Jacobs’ approach in this fight was how he used his lateral movement and his jab to establish distance between himself and Golovkin. As has been the custom throughput his career, Golovkin looked to apply pressure from the outset, but unlike some of his previous opposition, Golovkin had trouble in this fight neutralizing Jacobs’ movement, despite being able to land his share of offense early on.
At the conclusion of three rounds, I had Jacobs winning two out of three rounds due largely to how well he was able to offset Golovkin’s pressure and his effectiveness in using his jab to dictate how the fight was being fought. In round four however, the champion would establish himself as he scored a knockdown of Jacobs with a short, but solid right hand. Under circumstances where some fighters have wilted once they felt Golovkin's power, Jacobs did not appear to be hurt or discouraged.
The knockdown Golovkin was able to score in round four as well as the gradual success he was able to have in not only backing Jacobs up, but executing his offense systematically allowed the champion to win rounds four and five on my scorecard and gave him a slight edge. Although Golovkin won the fourth round by a 10-8 margin in points because of the knockdown, it is important to remember for those who saw this fight when it to place and to state for those who have yet to see this encounter that several of the rounds in this fight were extremely close and if one watches the fight round by round as the official judges score fights on a round by round basis, there is the element of interpretation when it comes to close fights. This fight was certainly no exception.
This observer has always said that when it comes to close fights it will often boil down to what a judge prefers in their own individual criteria in how they score based on clean punching, effective aggression, ring generalship, and defense. Rather than go into a long detailed explanation of all the facets that go into scoring a fight, I will simply offer the reader my perspective in how I saw this bout play out.
From round five on, I felt the two fighters traded momentum in that determining who got the upper hand in a round could have been based on specific moments in rounds that would sway opinion in favor of one fighter, particularly in rounds that may have otherwise been scored even. Rounds six, seven, nine, ten, and eleven I felt were won by Jacobs based on his seeming to be the more effective fighter of the two even though Jacobs did not necessarily out land Golovkin in some of those rounds. Rounds one, four, five, eight, and twelve meanwhile I felt were won by the champion Golovkin. Although many of the rounds in this fight were very close, it seemed as though when Golovkin was able to be more effective and win rounds, it was due to his being able to land the harder punches, which in close rounds can leave a lasting impression. Jacobs meanwhile won rounds where he seemed to be more effective and made it difficult for Golovkin to get his punches off, despite being under consistent pressure throughout the fight.
With the two fighters splitting the final two rounds of the twelve round championship bout on my scorecard, I arrived with a score of 114-113 in favor of Jacobs at the end of the fight. Given how close this fight was and taking into consideration not only the 10-8 round in favor of Golovkin in round four, but how scores could vary depending on opinion of who got the upper hand in rounds where there was not much to separate the two fighters, it was understandable how Golovkin was ultimately declared the winner at the end of the fight earning the victory by the same 114-113 margin on one of three official scorecards. It is also understandable how some may take issue with the fact that Golovkin was the winner via unanimous decision as two of three official judges had him winning by three points 115-112.
Although some may be tempted to use the word “Controversial” with regard to the scoring of this fight, this observer does not feel there was ”Controversial” scoring in this fight, despite my opinion that Jacobs won the fight by a narrow margin. As for a reason why two of three official judges saw the fight in favor of Golovkin by a slightly wider margin than the third judge, who had the same man winning, but only by one point, it may come down to how those two judges scored some rounds, which frankly could have gone either way in addition to the knockdown against Jacobs in round four as to how each arrived at their respective 115-112 score at the bout’s conclusion.
Rather than dwelling too much on the subject of scoring, what one should have taken away from this fight is that not only was Gennady Golovkin’s incredible knockout streak of twenty-three halted by Daniel Jacobs, but Golovkin was also given a scare in what was his eighteenth successful title defense. All fighters eventually learn that the level competition only increases when competing at the highest level of the sport and this was another fight that ultimately put Golovkin to the test. Whether you the reader feel that he won or lost, at the end of the day, Golovkin found a way to win.
In the one week since this bout took place, my opinion as to who won it has not changed. After reviewing the fight several times however, it is my hope now that the fight, which was televised live on pay-per-view has begun being rebroadcast on several networks worldwide that fans whether watching the fight again or seeing it for the first time, sit back and appreciate what took place in Madison Square Garden on March 18th.
It was after all a battle between two of the best fighters that the Middleweight division has to offer. Regardless of the outcome, it was one of the more interesting and entertaining fights in recent times. An encounter all Boxing fans and experts alike should take time to enjoy.
“And That's The Boxing Truth.”
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