GOLOVKIN-CANELO IN LIGHT OF GOLOVKIN-JACOBS — If you’ve been a follower of the sport of boxing or, say, even the NFL, hopefully you’ve gleaned that no fighter or team is as bad as they looked during their most recent setback, nor are they as spectacular as they performed on their recent best day. We’ve seen it over and over on Sunday afternoons throughout the NFL season. A supposed elite team with Super Bowl aspirations, say the New England Patriots, loses, sometimes at home to a team that may be in the midst of a 5-game losing streak. The following morning all the banter will be centered on, “Apparently the Patriots aren’t as good as we thought.” And that’ll dominate the talk pertaining to the Patriots until they dismantle their opponent the following Sunday….and then the world is back in balance.
This past weekend middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin 37-0 (33) defended his title belts against WBA “regular” champ Danny Jacobs 32-2 (29) at Madison Square Garden in New York. Heading into the fight Golovkin, nearly an 8-1 favorite, hadn’t been taken the distance since June of 2008, a span of 23 fights. Jacobs also carried a reputation for being a big-puncher but one who could also navigate ring geography. Unexpectedly, Golovkin and Jacobs swapped punches for 12 rounds with the only defining moment occurring during the fourth round when Jacobs was caught and dropped briefly via a Golovkin right hand. When it was over all three judges agreed seeing it 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113 in favor of Golovkin. And now everyone is asking if Golovkin is as great as they thought. The answer is no. The media and fans overrated him prior to March 18th and now they may be slightly underrating him….welcome to professional sports.
The Golovkin-Jacobs bout was one of those fights in which it really could’ve gone to either fighter by a single point, two at the absolute most. Because of how close it was and with Golovkin going in as an overwhelming favorite, it feels as though GGG lost. And with that all the crickets are coming out of the woodwork now suggesting Saul “Canelo” Alvarez can beat Golovkin when they fight — something I don’t think Canelo advisor Oscar De La Hoya truly believed before March 18th.
Two things stand out regarding a potential Canelo-Golovkin bout, which I’m sure will happen so long as neither suffers a setback beforehand. Yes, Golovkin looked beatable during the bout with Jacobs and some even point to his prior fight with welterweight title holder Kell Brook, who boxed beautifully against Golovkin last September before having to withdraw due to a busted eye socket suffered during one of their exchanges. Brook’s strategy of moving and planting to punch and then getting out was successful until GGG sensed Brook couldn’t hurt him. Obviously, Jacobs studied the tape of the Brook fight and implemented the strategy when he fought Golovkin. And he did well, because he’s much bigger than Brook, maybe weighing as much as 180 pounds in the ring, and he has a better outside/long range game due to his length.
Without getting too long and drawn out, most sophisticated boxing observers understand that Jacobs and Canelo fight nothing alike. Alvarez wouldn’t even walk down the same side of the street with Jacobs, let alone fight him, unless he was forced to, meaning that everything that worked for Jacobs against Golovkin would also stymie Canelo. Saul is flat-footed, has a predictable offense and needs his feet set to punch hard. In the main, the only advantage Canelo has over Golovkin is faster hands and better accuracy….which very well may be nullified after a few rounds of them banging on each other.
The bottom line is that Canelo can’t box Golovkin the way Jacobs did; he’ll have to fight him straight up. Both Canelo and Golovkin have a great chin and can really take a punch. Both are also big punchers, with the difference being that Canelo has to be set and Golovkin has to be coming forward. Canelo has no shot to befuddle GGG with movement and will more than likely have to fight Golovkin off with his back to the ropes, a position he’s hardly ever been forced to fight from. On the other hand we know Golovkin is going to be trying to force the fight and suffocate Canelo with unrelenting pressure.
Against Jacobs, Golovkin looked a little flat and complacent. Maybe the last few years of winning without being challenged, along with the Marvin Hagler comparisons, have him believing he just has to show up with gloves on and the rest will take care of itself — something that may change due to him getting negative publicity after the Jacobs fight from more than a few respected observers who think he lost. That should re-invigorate him.
As of March 2017, Canelo-Golovkin is still a ways off. However, don’t be misled. Gennady may be winding down some, but he’s still better than he showed in his last bout. When Golovkin and Canelo fight, that’s what they’ll do; fight. And the winner will be the fighter who carries the bigger guns and can catch better.
Lastly, I believe — and have for the last year or more — that they haven’t fought yet because of De La Hoya’s trepidation, not Canelo’s. I sense that Oscar is doing what Floyd Mayweather did regarding the way he manipulated the Pacquiao fight. Mayweather could do it because he was the A-side, as is true Canelo with respect to Golovkin. The longer the fight marinates, the bigger it will become financially. And the further back it’s pushed, the more it favors the nearly 10 years younger Alvarez.
Based on Golovkin-Jacobs, the fight has a better chance of happening because GGG looks less fearsome. Just don’t be fooled by how Golovkin looked fighting Jacobs, because he’s better than he showed and Alvarez fights nothing like Jacobs. The bigger issue is whether De La Hoya will time Golovkin’s decline as accurately as Mayweather did Pacquiao’s? Remember, he has the control because he’s the money man and all he has to do to delay the fight is keep offering Golovkin crumbs regarding his purse. And every word that has been spoken by De La Hoya since Golovkin struggled with Jacobs indicates that’s exactly what he intends to do.
Golovkin and Canelo are near equals….but the sand is running through the hour glass rapidly, and each grain that passes favors Canelo.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com