WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin scraped past WBA “regular” middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs on Sunday afternoon (Sydney time) with a razor thin unanimous decision in a bout between the world’s two top middleweights. Golovkin scored a knockdown in the fourth round but found catching the elusive Jacobs difficult and was extended the 12 round distance for the first time in his career, ending his 23 fight knockout streak.
The feeling out process lasted the opening three rounds as Golovkin tried to cut the ring off and find range with his jab while Jacobs switched from orthodox to southpaw and moved both directions to avoid standing in front of GGG. I felt Golovkin had the edge in rounds one while Jacobs took rounds two and three. Round two was the only clear round out of the three, which I scored for Jacobs on the back of a few clean left hands. Jacobs was surprising many early with his ability to shut down the much feared assault of GGG.
In round four things went back to script as Golovkin backed Jacobs towards the ropes and caught him with a pair of right hands that sent Jacobs to the canvas. It was a clean knockdown however Jacobs went on the defensive and while he took some good punches, he never allowed Golovkin to come close to finishing him. Golovkin kept the pressure on Jacobs in the fifth round and landed some punishing shots along the ropes while making the New York native miss many of his counters and seemed to be in control at the end of five.
Jacobs showed that he wasn’t going to go the route of GGG’s previous opponents and had his best round of the fight in round six. A hard overhand right midway through the round and a pair of assaults to the head and body later in the round as well as his slick defence saw Jcobs clearly outpunch (despite what official CompuBox stats show, Jacobs clearly outlanded Golovkin in this round, more on this later) Golovkin and turn the tide. The seventh was more of the same and Golovkin was having trouble, perhaps for the first time in his career, pulling the trigger and while Jacobs confused him with his switching of stances and effective volleys of punches from both stances.
Rounds eight and nine were difficult to score. Jacobs did the better work throughout much of both rounds. I would go as far as to say he won close to five of the six minutes in these rounds however Golovkin landed the better punches in both rounds, a right hand to the chin in the eighth which Jacobs took well and two right uppercuts towards the end of the ninth followed by a series of shots in the final minute that gave GGG the round on my card. Jacobs took control again in the tenth and eleventh with his workrate and his ability to make GGG miss and the fight was anyone’s going into the final round.
Golovkin went to work early in round 12 and used his jab effectively, nailing Jacobs and setting up a couple of right hands that Jacobs partially deflected. Jacobs came back and made GGG miss and landed a solid right-left-right combination midway through the round. Jacobs let his hands go again scoring to the head and body but ate a clean right hand in return. Jacobs continued to do the better work in the final minute but Golovkin landed the cleaner punches which made the final round difficult to score.
At the end of 12 I had Jacobs up 115-112, however I felt rounds 1, 3, 8, 9 and 12 all could have gone either way and I favoured Jacobs in three of those. The judges cards (115-112 twice and 114-113) were within the acceptable range I felt. I preferred Jacobs’ defence and his workrate but Golovkin was effective with his aggression and he often controlled where the fight took place.
One thing I will bring up is the punchstats. I believe these are incorrect. I have sat down and counted the punches in rounds two and six, both clearly Jacobs rounds but rounds which CompuBox said GGG outlanded Jacobs in one of them (the 2nd) and threw and landed exactly the same amount as Jacobs in the sixth, arguably Jacobs’ best round of the fight. Jacobs threw at least 15 more punches than GGG in round six and significantly outlanded him, including the more eye catching shots and outlanded GGG at almost 2-1 in round two. These are the only two rounds I have sat down and calculated my own punchstats but this wouldn’t be the first time HBO has used incorrect stats. Round four or five of the first Pacquiao fight, if you watch the HBO telecast, has Pacquiao outlanding Bradley at one point during that round despite not even throwing the amount of punches they said he had landed at that time.
There are a lot of arguments that will come out of this fight regarding the scoring and who these two should fight next but I hope this puts a temporary halt to the “GGG is an all-time great middleweight” story line. He still has a long way to go. He is no where near Monzon’s record for defences (I still rate Monzon’s record as he was the lineal champion while Hopkins didn’t unify until towards the end of his career) as he still isn’t the lineal champion. The majority of his titles were of paper titles and Jacobs makes three top five contenders who he has beaten (Geale, Lemieux, who was debatable, and Jacobs). Not to mention this is a very weak middleweight division. Off his performance last night I wouldn’t giove GGG much of a chance against a top contender of the 1950-70’s middleweight divisions like George Benton, let alone have him up there with Carlos Monzon, Gene Fullmer, Emile Griffith, Nino Benvenuti or Dick Tiger.
The one thing this fight does for the division is lightens it up. Golovkin-Canelo is the big fight in boxing right now but Jacobs against either man is big as well. Jacobs-Lemieux or Jacobs-Saunders are both great matchups that could slot in on that undercard. Even Canelo-Lemieux and GGG-Jacobs II makes sense, if it were a double header. The judging of the Gonzalez fight aside, this was a good day for boxing.