Gennady Golovkin returns to the ring for the first time in 2017 Saturday night as he fights Daniel Jacobs in a title unification bout with the IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles on the line from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The co-main event features Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez defending WBC junior bantamweight title against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) hasn’t fought since he scored a fifth-round knockout over welterweight champion Kell Brook in September. The knockout ran Golovkin’s streak to 23 over an eight-year span.
Jacobs (32-1, 23 KOs) last competed in September when he defeated Sergio Mora by seventh-round TKO. The Brooklyn native’s won 12 consecutive fights since he suffered his only loss to Dmitry Pirog in July 2010.
Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) who many in boxing feel is the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world. “Chocolatito” looks to score his first stoppage since his ninth-round TKO win over Brian Viloria in Oct. 2015 which was the event him and Golovkin fought at The Garden.
Sor Rungvisai (34-4-1) comes into the biggest fight of his career on a tear winning seven consecutive fights.
There are plenty of questions heading into Saturday night’s card, but these are the four biggest :
- Can ‘GGG’ stay focused on Jacobs and not look ahead to a possible showdown against ‘Canelo’ Alvarez? In the lead-up to Saturday’s fight, Golovkin’s been asked plenty of questions in regards to Alvarez. He’s maintained he’s focused on Jacobs, but at times, has shown frustration that a fight with Alvarez hasn’t been signed. Golovkin needs to remember what is in front of him. Golovkin told Yahoo Sports earlier in the week that when he fought Brook it wasn’t interesting to him and had his mind on other things on trying to make different fights like the one with Alvarez. Jacobs is the number two middleweight in the world and cannot be overlooked by any stretch of imagination. This isn’t a fighter whose moving up two weight classes like Kell Brook did. A slight loss of focus by Golovkin on Saturday night and the Alvarez fight is an afterthought.
- Is Jacobs the guy to take down Golovkin? If you base a fight on what the oddsmakers say, Jacobs might as well just show to The Garden and just let Golovkin knock him out and collect his money, as he’s about a 6-1 underdog. Normally, this would be the biggest fight in Jacobs’ 33-fight career. But in 2011, Jacobs found out he had cancer. Doctors told him he had osteosarcoma and a tumor was found on his spine. He beat the biggest test he will ever face. Having that mindset prepares him well for what Golovkin brings to the ring mentally
Jacobs brought in former welterweight titleholder Chris Algieri as his nutritionist but to also help guide him through the process of a big fight. Back in 2014, Algieri took on boxing’s biggest star, Manny Pacquiao in Macau, China. Even though he lost the fight, Algieri’s helped Jacobs prepare for his biggest professional moment. Jacobs will be the heaviest striker and most technical boxer Golovkin’s stepped inside the ring with. With everything he’s gone through and having the right team around him, Jacobs has the best shot at putting a halt to the Golovkin train.
- Who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Gonzalez, 29, is widely regarded as the best boxer in the world. It is easy to make the case for him as such, too. The hard-hitting Gonzalez is undefeated in 46 fights with 38 of those wins by knockout and is one of only 16 boxers to capture four world titles in four different weight classes.
But fighting in a lower weight class hurts Gonzalez’s case. The general public likes seeing the bigger weight classes and routinely view the lower divisions as only fighters who are quick and can nicely fill in an undercard.
Golovkin is undefeated in 36 fights, has the spectacular knockout streak but some in boxing feel his management team has booked him in situations where he can face easier competition. He looked unimpressive in last fight against Brook. If you want to be the best fighter in the world, you need to have supreme focus in every fight regardless of who you are going up against.
4. How many pay-per-view buys will the show garner? The top two fights on paper make this a must-watch event. You have the two best boxers in the world in competitive fights. But, you asking fans to shell out $64.95 to watch fights on one of the biggest sports weekends of the year as it is the first Saturday of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
This is a fight that could have been on HBO but the company these days isn’t too keen these days of having big fights on their network and put onto pay-per-view. Golovkin’s last PPV outing in Oct. 2015 against David Lemieux did around 150,000 PPV buys. That was on a Saturday which featured a Chicago Cubs-New York Mets MLB playoff game, among other competition. The basketball tournament will be viewed more than baseball playoffs. If this fight can do the same numbers as it did 17 months ago, it would be considered a success.
Fightful.com will have full coverage of the event.