Golovkin-Jacobs Was A Close Fight. Why Is That A Surprise?
By: Sean Crose
Lots of talk about this past weekend’s Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs battle for middleweight supremacy. The fact that it was something of a high-level affair rather than a blowout seems to have impacted boxing fans and analysts in an odd way. Apparently, some feel Golovkin, who won by a unanimous decision after clearly having a tough time of it, was “exposed.” Others feel the man showed his age (he’s well over thirty), while others feel he simply lost. No doubt there are those who believe a combination of all those things. One thing is certain, people were not expecting things to work out like they did in the ring on Saturday.
Not to pat myself on the back, but I’m most distinctly NOT stunned things played out like they did. Before the bout, I discussed the possibility of Jacobs winning with other writers at Madison Square Garden. I explained that my mind told me there was no way Jacobs could win, but that my gut told me otherwise. And, in a sense, my gut may have been right, as I gave the Jacobs the nod after the final bell rang (though I clearly felt it could have gone either way). Obviously, the judges (who, let’s face it, are the ones who matter in these cases) disagreed with my initial assessment of the bout, but many others in the press box at the Garden gave the nod to Jacobs, as well.
There’s something irksome, however, about all the talk that Golovkin isn’t all he was cracked up to be. The guy had a tough fight. It happens. Not only is such nonsense insulting to Golovkin, it’s insulting to Jacobs, who put on a masterful performance. This was one of those rare fights where I would have been happy no matter what the decision was. In that sense, it reminded me of the first Floyd Mayweather – Marcos Maidana bout, where I afterwards felt pretty much any decision could be justified. Even more so than in the case of Mayweather-Maidana, though, this was a case of two of the best men in their division getting it on.
The truth is that Daniel Jacobs was under-rated right from the very beginning. More than anything else, there was a seriousness to the man in the lead up to this bout which should have given people pause. Here was a fighter who could hit like thunder and who, more importantly, was smart enough to know he had to come up with a sharp game plan for this one. The combination of ability and IQ should have convinced people that Jacobs would pose a threat to Golovkin, that he would come in with a cerebral mindset and apply the best strategy possible. Few focused on the potentiality of a very competitive fight, though. Just look at the pre-fight predictions for confirmation.
This was never going to be a walk in the park for Golovkin. The surprise shouldn’t be that a close battle was waged in the ring, but that people are taken aback that GGG didn’t make easier work of his opponent this time around. Jacobs was the real article, something some are belatedly starting to realize. For what it was worth, Jacobs himself was cool and easygoing in the post-fight press conference. Sure, he felt he should have won, or at least gotten a draw. He didn’t seem disappointed, though. That’s because he knew he was in the ring with an exceedingly serious opponent.
“This was my first test at 12 rounds,” Golovkin himself said during the press conference. “I needed a quality fight, not just the 12 rounds.”