Gennady Golovkin may be human after all. The Kazakh knockout merchant saw his brutal streak of 26 straight finishes brought to an end by Daniel Jacobs on Saturday, but the 34-year-old crucially retained his status as the world’s best middleweight with a measured and mindful performance.
‘Triple G’ and his trio of 160lbs belts remain in his possession as he earned a unanimous decision victory in New York after being taken the full quota of 12 rounds for the first time in his career.
Ultimately, he was indebted to a fourth-round knockdown as Jacobs’ fluid footwork and rapid combinations nullified his near-mythical power.
But Golovkin’s display should be regarded as part of an evolutionary process rather than an indication age is degenerating a man who turns 35 next month.
Indeed, it seems the WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight champ has fallen victim to his own savage success. In the ruthless court of opinion, many labelled his performance as lacklustre and laboured but in reality he delivered against an opponent more athletically gifted, with a boxing brain and bigger physically – much bigger than anticipated after Jacobs missed the IBF-required Saturday morning weigh-in which would have restricted him to be no more than 10lbs heavier than his official weight.
Yes, Golovkin appeared mortal but Jacobs’ size advantage, with estimates he weighed north of the light-heavyweight limit of 170lbs on the night, played a significant role in holstering his devastating weapons. After being out-boxed for portions of the Kell Brook battering and now being taken the distance by
Jacobs, Golovkin’s critics are asking the inevitable question of whether the signs of aging are beginning to emerge. But the fact is it’s an ascension of quality opponents rather than his own personal decline.
Jacobs is the No2 middleweight on the planet. He proved as much with his crafty but dangerous switch to Southpaw which neutralised Golovkin’s jab and opened counters for his right hand.
His hand speed, lateral movement and perpetual upper body motions were all hallmarks of an elite fighter. The expectation of such a one-sided clash was in hindsight, well, farcical and it seems only Golovkin rightly respected the power of a fighter who had flattened his last 12 opponents and owned the height, weight and reach advantage.
The fact Jacobs performed so much better than some anticipated meant some viewed the decision objectively and thought he won. But make no mistake Golovkin more than matched a fighter of his calibre, flooring Jacobs with a pair stinging rights in the fourth session and having the edge overall in punches landed and accuracy, according to Compubox figures.
Still, the apparent evaporation of his veil of invincibility will offer encouragement for the likes of WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. And both are fights on Golovkin’s radar.
“Of course I am ready to fight Canelo. Of course I want that fight. I am like an animal for that fight,” Golovkin said post-fight before adding: “My goal is all the belts in the middleweight division. Of course, Billy Joe Saunders is the last step for my dream.”
Golovkin also refused to rule out a rematch with Jacobs, although the American potentially stimulated the prospect of Saunders and Canelo stepping up to take on the Kazakh.
“[The power] wasn’t what everybody made it out to be,” Jacobs said. “He’s not this boogeyman, this knockout artist. Even when I got dropped… I didn’t get hurt like I thought, like if he landed one of those shots, it would be over. It wasn’t like that.”
The fight wasn’t like many expected either but Golovkin is still a monster and his rivals should be fearful of what comes next because he’s finding different ways to win and now it’s against some of the best in the world.