Golovkin vs. Jacobs Promotional Tour Kicks off at MSG
By: Eric Lunger
On Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden, Tom Loeffler and K2 Promotions kicked off the media tour for the upcoming middleweight title fight on March 18 between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Danny “Miracle Man” Jacobs. With a slate of big fights on the horizon, boxing fans can be optimistic that the doldrums of 2016 are behind them. We have Jack vs. DeGale this weekend (an IBF and WBC super middleweight unification), Frampton vs. Santa Cruz II at the end of January, Cotto vs. Kirkland in February (I am fired up about this fight mainly because Rigondeaux is back!), and Thurman vs. Garcia in early March. Each of these matchups are intriguing in their own way, but in my view, Golovkin vs. Jacobs is the jewel in the crown.
There are two kinds of press conferences in boxing: the hostile, aggressive, showdown with posturing and scowling (a table or two might be thrown), and, on the other hand, the mutual-admiration fest, where both teams thank each other and outdo each other in praise and respect. The affair at MSG fell into the latter category.
Tom Loeffler of K2 was optimistic and positive, framing the bout as a super-fight and a triumphant return to MSG for his fighter. Having partnered with HBO, Mr. Loeffler couldn’t resist a slight dig at Showtime for passing on Golovkin early in the Kazakh’s US career. That’s a bit rich, as HBO seems to be fighting on the back foot in the network battle. But let’ not quibble: the fans win when an HBO-backed fighter can get in the ring with a Showtime (and Al Haymon) fighter. There is too much territoriality in boxing, a deeply rooted and often intractable problem.
But the human element of the sport was on proud display when the trainers addressed the media. Abel Sanchez (Golovkin’s trainer) opened his comments by thanking Danny Jacobs “for being the gentleman that you are.” He complemented Andre Rozier (Jacobs’s trainer), and said the run up to the fight would be “fun.” He then sat down. Mr. Rozier for his part recognized the paradox at the heart of the close-knit boxing community. Those in boxing at the high levels often respect and like each other, but then have to fight. Said Mr. Rozier: “I am a big fan of this young man [motioning to Golovkin], he’s a class act, but on March 18, I don’t know him.” It is an exercise in compartmentalizing strong emotions. I hope to see more of Mr. Rozier during the promotion; he is a boisterous and instantly likeable man, yet a man of serious substance as well. “I call Danny Jacobs my son,” he said. And he meant it.
Both fighters spoke, and both seemed to grasp the gravity of a big title fight at MSG on HBO PPV. Danny Jacobs was soft-spoken, self-possessed, and quietly confident. He was adamant that this was the fight he wanted as soon as he made his recovery from his bout with cancer. While professing his “utmost respect for Gennady and his team,” Jacobs said that his motivation in the ring was his son: “my mission in this fight is to prove to my son that as long as you believe in yourself, anything is possible.” Otherwise his remarks were brief: “I am going to let my fists do the talking. That’s what fighters do.”
Golovkin, who is generally amiable and charming with the media, made only brief remarks. He conveyed his respect for Jacobs and his team, and seemed slightly awed by the prospect of returning to MSG for a HBO Pay-per-View. Golovkin normally expresses a keen understanding of his position in the sport. He indicated that he understood that Jacobs will be his biggest test, with four out of five belts on the line (Billy Joe Saunders is currently holding the WBO belt hostage in England). This will be a career-defining fight. “Today, I understand, huge fight for us,” said Golovkin, “I promise amazing show, a historic show.”