In the middle of a Los Angeles area arena parking lot Gennady “GGG” Golovkin stood flanked by dozens of fans signing autographs and posing for photos graciously and patiently.
Among those eagerly waiting their turn were African Americans, Latinos, Russians and others gathering around like a mini United Nations convention.
Though Golovkin hails from Kazakhstan, a country located above Iran and near Russia, the middleweight champion attracts fans of all races and nationalities.
The reason is simple: he’s Mr. Excitement.
Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) faces his stiffest test when he defends his middleweight titles against Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) on Saturday March 18, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. HBO pay-per-view will televise.
“It’s much more interesting because he is a champion,” said Golovkin. “He’s a true middleweight.”
One of the rarest achievements in prizefighting occurs when a boxer from another country attains fandom and adoration worldwide, not just his native country.
The last to achieve this in boxing was Philippine’s Manny Pacquiao who filled more than 40,000 seats in Dallas when he fought Antonio Margarito. Before Pacman, you have to go to Mike Tyson to find someone who could draw thousands of fans from another country.
One common factor is they constantly provide excitement with their ability to blow out opponents in convincing fashion.
Golovkin has steamrolled competition 23 consecutive times since 2008 when Amar Amari was able to remain standing and hear the final bell in an eight round fight. Can you imagine if it were 10 or 12 rounds?
Will Jacobs be number 24?
The Brooklyn middleweight known as “the Miracle Man” has his own knockout streak since suffering his only loss by knockout to Russia’s Dmitry Pirog in 2010. Jacobs has his own dirty dozen straight KO list.
Between the pair of middleweights 35 consecutive opponents have been rendered unconscious or unable to continue.
“Obviously Gennady has someone in front of him that he has a lot of respect for. Someone who can crack,” said trainer Abel Sanchez.
Back in October 2015, “Mr. Excitement” Golovkin last faced a similar dangerous middleweight in Canada’s David Lemieux. That ended in a knockout on the same Madison Square Garden boxing ring that this fight takes place.
“Madison Square Garden is my home,” says Golovkin, adding that he’s already fought there four times.
Expect the same knockout result. But who really knows who emerges victorious.
That’s the reason knockout punchers become favorites. They’re like human cherry bombs that can blow up things or blow up in your face. And when you put a pair of cherry bombs together anything can happen. One fuse can burn too quickly or another may have too long a fuse.
But everyone loves the sound of a cherry bomb going off and the anticipation.
Jacobs has already tasted defeat and more than that, he’s met death face to face and emerged intact.
The story of Jacobs and his bout with cancer is well known. Withstanding regular doses of chemotherapy is a test in itself. Once you’ve gotten a taste of your own mortality the fear factor has been eliminated. It’s gone. You know more than anybody else your life can end tomorrow or any second.
It’s why Jacobs has no fear of Golovkin.
“I wanted this fight,” said Jacobs while in Los Angeles. “He can be beat.”
Jacobs has no undefeated record to protect. In fact, he’s eliminated the Os of several undefeated opponents to get to this point. Now he’s after the biggest gun and the baddest of the undefeated in Golovkin.
Golovkin, like Jacobs, really has no fear.
“He’s dangerous for me,” said Golovkin of Jacobs. “He’s a great man and very good as a boxer.”
The fellow known as “Triple G” has built a wide fan following that crosses all continents with his willingness to face and fight anyone in the middleweight division. If they weigh 160 pounds then they are the enemy. It’s why fans from Mexico, Philippines, Japan, Australia and in the United Kingdom can be seen wearing baseball hats with “GGG” emblems.
Small children who might not be able to read can be seen walking the streets of Mexico City with “GGG” hats and t-shirts.
In Golovkin’s native Kazakhstan, he’s already reached legendary status.
People love to see a fighter with no fear because each of us has fear of losing our jobs, being unable to pay bills, or just getting beat down in life.
But when someone like Golovkin comes along, someone from humble beginnings like billions of others and just keeps knocking out the competition, the everyday man takes a liking to him. They all feel a part of him as if he actually fights for them.
Golovkin is Mr. Excitement.
Now, Golovkin has a willing and experienced partner on the big stage in Jacobs.
Last year, a long list of fighters claimed to want to meet Golovkin in the boxing ring including Saul Alvarez, Chris Eubank Jr., Billy Joe Saunders, and others. But only Kell Brook and Jacobs signed the dotted line on the contract.
“Both guys are going to get hit,” said Sanchez who’s trained Golovkin for nearly seven years. “Anything can happen. Jacobs is a good fighter.”
Jacobs has that coolness and confidence that comes from knowing he’s faced death and the reality of it.
“Triple G has been on my radar for about two years. I knew this opportunity would come,” said Jacobs. “He’s great at what he does, an extremely powerful fighter. But it takes a strong mind to defeat Gennady Golovkin and I believe I have that.”
Golovkin’s radar goes up when he hears things like that.
“It’s really interesting for me because he wants to fight me,” says Golovkin.
No fear means excitement.
Both believe in what they do.
Tecate beer, one of the major sponsors, is offering rebates for the Golovkin-Jacobs fight. Here are the details: When you buy two Tecate or Tecate Light 12-packs and send in your HBO PPV proof-of-purchase, you’ll receive $20 back. Or, when you buy one Tecate or Tecate Light 12-pack and send in your HBO PPV proof-of-purchase, you’ll receive $15 back.
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