NEW YORK, March 17, 2017 – With four belts on the line and a rare unification bout headlining the show, excitement is heating up the chilly March air around Madison Square Garden in New York City for HBO Boxing’s pay per view card featuring middleweights Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin and Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs in the main event.
Fans are circulating around the event headquarters hotel and eagerly snapping up every bit of memorabilia and swag in sight. They waited in line in the unseasonably cold New York weather to view the weigh-in. It’s exactly what the sport of boxing needs and everyone involved from the promoters to the TV networks to the athletes hopes to see when competitive fights with high stakes are made.
Now they hope this excitement will be rewarded with action in the ring Saturday night that will leave the fans wanting more. Fans will pour into Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday night won’t mind at all if their evening is cut short when a fight is ended by knockout or attrition by either Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) or Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs). With 62 knockouts in 68 fights between them, it’s a virtual certainty.
But it’s not a certainty it will be a single “lights out” punch, quite the opposite. Though Golovkin is heavily favored, Jacobs has a far better chance of winning than many of Golovkin’s previously game but outclassed rivals. It is something his critics like to point out, and it is one of the main reason both fans and skeptics have so much anticipation for this bout.
As skilled as all both men are, there must be one winner and one loser on the record books at the end of the evening, no matter how long or short it may be. Our predictions are based on several keys to these fights.
Punching power is a given with both Golovkin and Jacobs. Golovkin’s strength is the stuff of legend. He punches with accuracy and with variety. He is equally as likely to take his opponent out with a left hook to the body like a Taser as with a right to the temple. It makes him dangerous and difficult to predict.
But Golovkin’s punches rarely produce highlight reel KOs. They accumulate damage with a relentless attack. Even Golovkin’s jab is a weapon unlike the rangefinder of many fighters. It was this jab Golovkin used to perfection against a previous opponent with his own offensive power, David Lemieux. Golovkin never let Lemieux get settled or get close enough to really hurt him.
GGG would be smart to employ the same game plan. Fans saw what Lemieux can do with his Knockout of the Year candidate against Curtis Stevens. In retrospect, it should silence some of the criticism about Golovkin’s tactical planning and execution to avoid taking a similar punch while steadily wearing Lemieux down.
Jacobs is also a skilled offensive athlete in the ring. As the acknowledged underdog, he will be anxious to make a mark early in the fight. He has excellent speed and he appears to be in the best shape of his life. He might even win a round or two early in the fight. But beware the false sense of confidence. Jacob has the potential to end a fight with a single punch, but he can’t approach Golovkin in any way that leaves him open to a return shot. In a battle of boxing chins, Jacobs can’t match Golovkin. Golovkin has never been stopped and never been knocked down; both have happened to Jacobs.
Both men need to temper their aggression with patience, gauge what their opponent has in the tank when the opening bell sounds, and look each other in the eye. Golovkin’s intensity and ability to cut off the ring might frustrate Jacobs. He cannot allow it to force mistakes, or cause him to throw caution to the wind, or he will say good boy and good night.
As he did with Lemieux, Golovkin cannot underestimate the effect of being hit hard by Jacobs, perhaps for the first time in many years. He has shown that he’s willing to eat a punch to land a punch, but he cannot dismiss Jacobs until he’s tested him first.
But when he does, it will be all systems go. After a few rounds, we predict Golovkin will take control by demonstrating how smart he is as well as how strong, and end the fight with a TKO in the fifth round. It will be an accumulation stoppage, in which the referee or the corner stops it to protect Jacobs from too much punishment.
Jacobs would like to derail the Triple G train, and he’s got the potential to do it. His personal story as a cancer survivor against the odds and his approachable character offers great crossover appeal. He’s the A victory over Golovkin would change his future in a big way.
Jacobs says he beat cancer on the scorecards, and he fears no man. At Friday’s weigh-in, he was pumped up and showed more aggression outside the ring than usual. Was he trying to pump himself up for the fight? Is the lack of fear actually a drawback? Fighters shouldn’t be able to imagine themselves shrugging off a loss in advance. Jacobs needs his own Yoda to keep him thinking straight.
Will and emotion aside, it’s hard to ignore the numbers, because the numbers never lie. CompuBox statistics show Golovkin with an edge over Jacobs in average total punches landed per round (27.5 to 15.9); jabs landed per round (10.9 to 4.7); and power punches per round (16.6 to 11.2). His overall connect percentage and jab connect percentage is higher than Jacobs; only in power punching are they even although Golovkin lands more in sheer numbers. While one punch can end a fight, accuracy and strength will nearly always have its way.
Saturday’s card at Madison Square Garden is close to a sellout, a good first step. HBO and K2 Promotions now hope the pay per view numbers will reward putting the middleweight division’s top athletes in the ring together, supported by a strong undercard. They have expressed caution on the projected totals, saying that anything over 200,000 buys would make the event a financial success; 300,000 would make it a “huge success” according to Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions.
These metrics generate bigger purses for the fighters, which attracts top talent who have more to lose. It’s a continuing problem: opponents avoid Golovkin (ahem, Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders) because the risk/reward ratio is too low. To face someone with the potential to put you on the canvas requires enough money to make it worth your while. No one will be watching more closely than Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions; he won’t easily offer up his moneymaker Canelo without a worthwhile payout. The best way to ensure we see Golovkin and Alvarez is to buy Saturday’s PPV card. Consider it an investment in your boxing future.
Communities Digital News is ringside in New York and will bring you all the coverage on Fight Night on March 18. Golovkin vs. Jacobs airs on HBO PPV starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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