By Tom Terzulli
Gennady Golovkin may have retained his Middleweight Championship at Madison Square Garden, but the night belonged to Daniel Jacobs.
The Kazak’s (115-112,115-112,114-113) unanimous decision victory over Jacobs last Saturday was by far the closest contest of his pro career. It was the first time he had ever been 12 rounds as a pro. He hadn’t even gone the distance since 2008, when little-known Amar Amari took him to the scorecards in an eight rounder. Since that fight, he went on a 23 stoppage win streak, en route to solidifying himself as the top name in the sport. These are all amazing streaks of excellence, all of which came to an end against Jacobs.
Jacobs has been dealing with adversity his whole life. The Brooklyn native overcame bone cancer in 2011 and returned to the ring just a year later. In Golovkin, he faced the greatest competition of his career. No one in the boxing media gave him a chance. Much of the speculation was dominated by when, not if GGG would finish the fight. Yet, with a quiet confidence, he gave the mighty Glolovkin one of his toughest fights ever. Some, including myself, even had Jacobs up on the scorecards at the final bell.
But, victorious or not, there is no doubt his performance at least warrants a re-match with the champ. Instead, the boxing brass has already moved on to who GGG’s next opponent will be. There’s the much vaunted showdown with fellow superstar Canelo Alverez. Or perhaps a matchup with Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders, who holds the only Middleweight belt that eludes GGG. Even former titlist Andy Lee’s name has been considered. His UD victory over no-name KeAndrae Leatherwood on the same GGG-Jacobs card was less than impressive.
The question remains: where does Jacobs fall in all this? Obviously hardcore and casual fans alike want to see the GGG-Canelo showdown. It would also be entertaining to see Golovkin finally unite all the middleweight belts against Saunders. However, we can’t just avoid Jacobs. He earned a rematch and an immediate one.
The GGG-Jacobs fight was not a spectacular affair. It was a tactical battle with Jacobs fighting a smart fight and landing some good combinations on Golovkin. Of course the showdown lacked the sheer brutality of the Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez bloodbath that preceded it. Yet, the 19,939 fans at the Mecca of boxing were very much into the battle. What it lacked in brutality it made up for in historical significance. Boxing fans had never seen Golovkin in the position that he was in. He was legitimately out-boxed by Jacobs, at least for parts of the fight. That alone should warrant a rematch.
The built-in storyline is there too. The desperate Jacobs looking to prove that the first fight was not a fluke. While the wily veteran Golovkin looks to prove that he’s still the man.
The fight drew around 170,000 buys on HBO pay per view. That’s a pretty solid number, up from the 153,000 buys in GGG’s PPV debut against David Lemiux in October 2015. I can guarantee that a rematch between Jacobs and Golovkin would exceed 170,000. One of the best pound for pound fighters in the world almost legitimately got beat, if that’s not a draw to watch the pair again, I don’t know what is.
Now while money definitely would not be an issue for the rematch, the matchup with Canelo would obviously draw more. It’s been the most sought after boxing matchup since Mayweather-Pacquiao in May 2015. However, Golden Boy Promotions, which Canelo fights under, and their leader Oscar De La Hoya have maintained that Alverez is the “A” side in negotiations. In their mind, Golovkin solidified that view with his performance against Jacobs.
That’s not going to help make the fight any easier. The money being offered by Goldenboy was already an issue for GGG. It’s sure to be even less after the Jacobs fight.
So while the potential super-showdown waits in limbo, that leaves Billy Joe Saunders, the WBO Middleweight champion.
There is no way a Saunders-GGG matchup is more of a draw than a GGG-Jacobs rematch. Saunders has never fought outside of the U.K. and hasn’t exactly faced the best competition. His December 2015 victory against Andy Lee to win the title was no doubt his biggest win. Sure, he’s undefeated and still relatively early in his pro career at 24 fights. But, at this stage of the game his drawing power simply isn’t there. The only possible intrigue of the fight would be Golovkin unifying the belts.
Danny Jacobs made a name for himself against GGG. His performance earned him a rematch. When put up against the other possible names, Jacobs is no doubt the best option.