Danny Jacobs Plays Russian Roulette With Gennady Golovkin
Called by some, and with justification, the “Miracle Man,” middleweight pugilist Daniel Jacobs of Brooklyn, New York will attempt Saturday night to do something no other 160-pound boxer of serious note is even willing to try: fight and defeat Gennady Golovkin, something few other 160-pound fighters over the last several years have shown any interest in. On Saturday, Danny Jacobs, of his own free will, will climb through the ropes to face the man from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin, aka “Triple G.” Jacobs wanted this fight and deserves a ton of respect for acting like a fighter and doing what others who could, simply wouldn’t.
Make no mistake. Golovkin is the most feared and, perhaps more importantly, avoided fighter in boxing, and has been for years. His ability to cut off the ring, the refinement he brings to his aggressive style, the obvious power and strength–23 consecutive KOs–, all contribute to his aura of invincibility. Add to the aforementioned a seeming invulnerability to return fire. Through 350 amateur bouts and a 36-fight professional career, Golovkin has never been knocked down. Never even obviously, seriously hurt. Even against a fighter as powerful as David Lemieux, on the few occasions the Montreal Mauler nailed Golovkin, the latter simply looked perturbed and turned up the heat a notch or two. Not since the glory days of Mike Tyson has any prizefighter created such an atmosphere of certain, impending, violent doom upon entering the ring.
To be sure, Danny Jacobs knows the risks, but he also sees the potential rewards. No slouch himself, Jacobs is a physically gifted fighter. Fast. Strong. Jacobs has perfect size for a middleweight, big for the division. He’ll have an advantage in height and reach going into the match with Golovkin. He also has punching power. Maybe not as much as Golovkin and David Lemieux, but he definitely has pop, and makes good use of it by being an excellent combination puncher. Although not Lomachenko-esque, Jacobs is fairly quick on his feet; he can box or force the fight.
Both men are honed to a fine edge, polished. Golovkin, a gym legend for his disciplined approach to training, is always ready. Sometimes a little more. The bright lights are on; this will be one of those times. Jacobs, much to his credit, is giving himself his very best chance to win. Every “i” is being dotted, every “t” is being crossed. Virgil Hunter has been brought in as a consultant. Chris Algieri is serving as nutritionist and companion. The “Miracle Man” is in the best shape of his career. Danny Jacobs is “all in.”
All fighters with good teams have a plan A, B and C. Jacobs and company have surely worked on giving Golovkin angles. Moving and using the jab. Specific counterpunches, etc. If you read between the lines though, it’s easy to see that Plan A for Danny Jacobs is to start fast and go after Triple G. The Brooklynite has made several comments indicating that he believes he can land on Golovkin and hurt him. The thinking goes that if Kell Brook, a welterweight, could land flush on Golovkin, those same shots thrown by Jacobs, a hard punching middleweight, will produce more distinctive results. Maybe, maybe not, but this is Jacobs very best chance. His people are smart, and probably realize that it’s unlikely Jacobs outboxes GGG smartly over twelve rounds. Sticking and moving, for Danny, a decent but not masterful defensive fighter, probably only prolongs the inevitable, as proximity to Golovkin over a sustained period can be hazardous and draining. Boxing will be part of the plan. but make no mistake–the idea will be to jump on Golovkin and hurt him. Jacobs is convinced he can land first and hard.
Similarly to the Lemieux contest, Golovkin will probably start the fight with a measured, cautious for him, approach. A tip of the hat to Daniel Jacobs’ offensive skill-set, GGG will want to get a look at the “Miracle Man” before attempting to steamroll him. As for Danny Jacobs, he will look to land something big right away. If he is to have a chance to win, he almost has to, even if only to give Golovkin something to think about on the way in. Triple G will end up forcing the fight, and when pressed, expect Jacobs to fight back like a wounded, cornered animal. All the pieces are in place for a spectacular, violent, action-packed, but short fight.
The small, little punches–the ones that have a hard time finding the highlight reel–will likely be what makes the difference in the outcome. Short body punches, uppercuts in close, the hard to see stuff. Golovkin will have a decided edge here. Golovkin opponents have a tendency to become increasingly “beat up” as the rounds go by; he has a way of taking a new car and turning it into a beater in short order. The jab will also play a big role in determining the outcome. Can Jacobs out-jab Golovkin? No one has, but Danny would seem to be more well-equipped to do so than any previous Golovkin adversary. GGG has a big edge in experience. Jacobs has fought exactly two good fighters, Pirog and Quillin, and the former knocked him out. There is also, possibly, a chin issue for Jacobs. Although his mandible has not proven to be constructed of fine china, the indications of that are evident. Besides the KO loss to Pirog, it’s hard to forget him getting dropped and stiff-legged by Sergio Mora a few fights back. He may be the only fighter ever hurt by Mora, a boxer who makes Paulie Malignaggi look like a banger. Barring an unlikely, quick blowout of Golovkin, Jacobs will need to be able to take a punch to win this fight.
Both boxers will spin and pull the trigger. The last time two elite middleweights played Russian Roulette was when Marvin Hagler took on Thomas Hearns. Golovkin hasn’t yet proved himself on Haglers’ level, nor Jacobs Hearns’, but in terms of the match-up, comparisons are hard to avoid. Hearns came out hot, looking to land Cleto Reyes-clad ICBM’s on Hagler, and did. Hagler dented but didn’t break, eventually wading through everything Tommy could throw at him to leave him in a crumpled pile. Hagler won that night 32 years ago, and Golovkin is the smart money in Saturday evening’s contest, if only because in this game of Russian Roulette, he can spin the cylinder, pull the trigger and survive the bullet. Jacobs, likely, cannot. But Jacobs has faced longer odds in life before. And won. He is a fine fighter. He isn’t showing up to lose. He deeply believes in himself, that he can win, and he’s going to take his very best shot. As big-time professional boxing goes, this promises to be “can’t miss” stuff. The big, certain-drama show. No matter who wins.