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.”
DeGale-Jack Shows That Not All 10-9 Rounds Are Alike
By: Sean Crose
Let’s face it, James DeGale got his ass kicked Saturday night in Brooklyn. That’s right, Badu Jack took it to the English super middleweight in a big way. While DeGale, slick and skilled, dominated early, Badu’s hard, grinding style, consisting of body work and hard shots to the head, carried the day. At least it did if we look on the affair as a fight instead of as a boxing match.
Unfortunately for Jack, the title unifier was a boxing match and was judged accordingly, as such. The lighter punching, but faster DeGale escaped with a draw. Indeed, one of the judges had the man actually beating Jack.
I myself had Jack dominating six rounds while DeGale owned four of his own outright. I also had two rounds open to interpretation. In other words, I felt they could have gone either way. So indeed, the final decision wasn’t a bad one if I’m to use my own scoring as a guide. Still, it’s hard for me to get over the fact that DeGale took a beating on Saturday night. Boxing may not be “real” fighting, but it’s real close and there’s little doubt who won Saturday on the “who dished out violence more effectively” scale.
I’ve wondered for a while now if there’s a better way to grade fights than on a round by round basis. It would be hard to find criteria for a successful revision of judging, but perhaps it’s time to seriously consider if such a move is feasible. Not all 10-9 rounds are alike. The proof of that is on DeGale’s face and in his newly toothless smile. Seriously, I was concerned about the guy’s well being on Saturday. He was taking some hellacious punishment and the last thing this world needed was another Magaomed Abdusalamov tragedy.
Again, though, I myself had scored it so that DeGale could conceivably have earned the draw he ended up earning. Still, there seems to just be something off about it. For this was a case where flashy combinations and slick movement couldn’t carry the day. Lots of those DeGale shots landed on gloves. And lots of those Jack shots did some serious damage. As a rule, I tend to admire polished fighters, but when polished fighters get knocked around like DeGale did on Saturday, I have to be honest with myself. Simply put, the scores on Saturday evening did not tell the whole story. And there might be something wrong with that.