by Daniel Tria
Gennady Golovkin showed yet another facet of his impressive skill set – the ability to not do very much but just enough to win.
Golovkin fights usually have the Kazakh throwing a ton of punches with the goal of having the night’s work end in about 15 minutes of actual pugilism. This fight was different, Golovkin used his impressive jab and equally impressive defense to turn away his most formidable challenger to date.
According to theCompubox Stats, Golovkin threw and landed more punches. Jacobs did land more power punches, but Golovkin never seemed bothered – just cautious. When you look at the round by round breakdown, Golovkin’s subtle dominance is really exposed. His jab repeatedly scored on Jacobs. Furthermore, the jab set up the right hand which send Jacobs to the canvas in the 4th.
What the Compubox stats don’t tell you is Golovkin abandoned the body attacks. This is especially troubling because when a guy moves as much as Jacobs did it’s imperative to work the core. Throughout the fight the taller, lankier, and more athletic Jacobs flitted about the ring while Golovkin hunted for the big head shot. This is why the fight was so close – Golovkin only connected big head shots in the 4th and later in the 8th round with the upper cuts.
Frankly, it’s a mystery why Golovkin didn’t dig into Jacobs’s body more and throw more uppercuts. Golovkin is a compact fighter, so lulling Jacobs into throwing the big, wide shots would be easy. However, Golovkin seemed leery of going inside on Jacobs, and ultimately, his jab won the fight by fighting Jacobs’s fight – a distance fight.
After the fight Golovkin spoke of a rematch and his goals with a Canelo fight but the more interesting is the prospect of fighting Billy Joe Saunders in Kazakhstan. If Jacobs gave Golovkin a hard time with his movement, Saunders could be equally confounding. The British fighter has a way of turning what can be an exciting fight into eye poison.
It seems the key to stymie Golovkin is using movement and baiting him into looking for the big punch. Kell Brook and Jacobs used great head movement to avoid the big shots and one wonders why Golovkin is not using body shots. With a lanky fighter like Jacobs, it’s imperative once Golovkin gets his opponent against the ropes to fight inside a la Roberto Duran.
As for talk about Golovkin being exposed? Hardly. He was the busier fighter, landed more punches, and ultimately Jacobs was the one who couldn’t get into his offense. Furthermore, Jacobs has never fought such a tactically sound fight. This was the best version of Jacobs and a less impressive version of Golovkin.
Questions arise though, is Golovkin starting to age? That’s doubtful. He fought a ton of amateur fights and prior to the Jacobs fight hasn’t labored through any bouts. He looks a spry 35 yet possibly too stubborn for his own good – looking for the big head shot for example.
Looking towards future fights with Saunders and Canelo, these fighters seem to be better matchups for Golovkin. Neither man moves nearly as well as Jacobs and Brook. They’re not volume punchers, and in Canelo’s case he’s a counter puncher with feet encased in cement.
However, Jacobs was better able to absorb Golovkin’s punches. By missing the IBF’s Saturday morning weigh in, Jacobs was unencumbered by the sanctioning body’s ten-pound limit. Of course, only Jacobs and his team knows what he truly weighed Saturday night, but it’s not unreasonable to assume part of the American’s strategy included weight.
Assuming Golovkin dispatches Saunders and Canelo, a Jacobs rematch would be a natural progression. The Brook fight and now the Jacobs fight also proves Golovkin needs 3-4 fights per year. Since trouncing David Lemieux in October of 2015, Golovkin has only fought Dominic Wade, Brook, and Jacobs. Three fights in 18 months is not good for a guy who likes to be in the ring. It’s why he’s prone to forcing big head shots instead of the measured, methodical pressure we’re used to.
Maybe businessmen like Canelo and Floyd Mayweather are ok with three fights in 18 months, but the lack of big drama shows may be a factor in why the biggest of the drama shows was less than impressive in his last two bouts.
What remains is Jacobs came in with a master plan, nearly pulling off the biggest upset since Buster Douglas’s big night in Tokyo. But Golovkin proved how mentally tough he is. On an off night with a hungry opponent, he used the best jab in boxing to earn a clear unanimous decision.