NEW YORK — Gennady Golovkin’s streak of 18 consecutive middleweight title defenses rolls on as he approaches Bernard Hopkins’ record of 20.
But his streak of 23 consecutive knockouts? Gone. His aura of invincibility? Vanquished with every massive punch Daniel Jacobs was able to absorb Saturday yet keep marching forward.
Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) rose from a fourth-round knockdown — the result of a series of clubbing rights set up by that hammer left jab — and weathered the storm in a rocky fifth round.
Somehow, Jacobs wasn’t just standing when the sixth rolled around. He clearly won the frame with some big combinations that shook Triple G.
Jacobs pressed on and knocked the cloak of indestructibility squarely off GGG’s shoulders.
Jacobs didn’t win the fight, though. He lost a close unanimous decision by scores of 115-112, 114-113 and 115-112, tallies that were booed by the pro-Golovkin crowd of 19,939 on hand at Madison Square Garden. USA TODAY Sports scored it 115-112 for Jacobs, known as The Miracle Man after overcoming osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
“He’s my best opponent,” said Golovkin, who wore black and white Air Jordan trunks. “He didn’t panic, he didn’t lose control. He’s very good. … This is boxing, I need the decision. I wasn’t thinking that I needed the 12th round to win the fight. This was my first test at 12 rounds.”
It’s something the 34-year-old had never seen — the 12th round. The last time he went the distance at all? A June 2008 victory over Amar Amari in an eight-round fight.
But Jacobs made sure Golovkin (37-0 33 KOs) went all 12 rounds. The Brooklynite did so by using his long, rangy jab to keep Golovkin at bay. Often times, Jacobs switched to southpaw, and the style change seemed to befuddle the Olympic silver medalist.
Jacobs worked his way back into the fight following the knockdown, and turned the tide in Round 7. He stood in the center of the ring and traded punches with the 160-pound destroyer, proving that his questionable punch resistance simply wasn’t that — questionable.
Clad in camouflage, Jacobs let out a roar following the round, and it was clear his confidence was brimming with each punch that connected.
Golovkin continued to work his way inside and found a home for his debilitating right uppercut, the kind of shot that usually ends fights.
While the bout was contested at a 160, Jacobs appeared to be far the far larger man. That’s because he blew off the second-day weigh-in required by the IBF — where each man isn’t allowed to weigh more than 170 pounds — and reportedly weighed closer to 180 on fight night. “It’s his problem, I respect the sport,” Golovkin said.
Does Jacobs deserve a rematch? GGG believes so. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon if all goes according to plan. Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, “could see there being a rematch” though he doesn’t think it “warrants an immediate rematch.”
Golovkin is likely headed toward a June 10 showdown in his native Kazakhstan with Billy Joe Saunders, a fight GGG said he “100% wants next.” Saunders holds the WBO title, the only belt Golovkin needs around his waist to become the undisputed ruler of the division.
The big prize, though, is the long-awaited, mega-money meeting with Mexican star Canelo Alvarez, which is being negotiated for Mexican Independence Day Weekend in September. To date, Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions have been slow to throw their meal ticket in with the knockout machine. But now?
“We hope that others think his invincibility is gone, which might give them more incentive to get in the ring with him and sign a contract,” Loeffler said. “I don’t think (the invincibility is) gone. When you can win a unanimous decision against such a tremendous warrior like Danny Jacobs, I don’t see how that’s not a tremendous performance. I don’t think there were any losers tonight.”
There officially was one loser regardless of any moral victory: Daniel Jacobs. Naturally, he felt referee Charlie Fitch should have raised his hand at the end of the evening.
“After the knockdown I told him he had to kill me,” Jacobs, 30, said. “When I got up, I thought ‘this is all he has?’ There were many times during the fight I went toe-to-toe because I knew I could. I got back up and I thought I won the fight … and all I can do is be gracious in the decision.”
The 30-year-old is “excited for the future” and with good reason. He greatly increased his profile in defeat and erased questions about his chin that were raised following a 2010 knockout by Dmitry Pirog.
Clearly, Jacobs deserves to be named with the other elite practitioners of the sport.
He’ll have to settle for the moral victory.
As always, this was Triple G’s night.
But the mystique surrounding Golovkin is gone — poof. Just maybe, that will help entice Canelo into the ring for the true super fight boxing has been seeking.