If all goes according to plan, sometime next year Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin, better known by his initials “GGG,” will face Mexico’s Saul Alvarez, who thanks to his cinnamon-colored hair has earned the nicknme “Canelo,” the Spanish word for that spice. Such a fight would put Canelo’s Ring Magazine middleweight title and Golovkin’s IBF, IBO,WBA, and WBC middleweight belts on the line.
Triple G and boxing fans want that fight as soon as possible, but Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo’s promoter, does not want it until at least Mexican Independence Day weekend in September 2017.
First, Triple G must get past a game Daniel Jacobs. While the Jacobs fight is nominally just a defense of Golovkin’s WBA title, it in many ways presents a stiffer test for Golovkin than Canelo, and also has the makings of an exciting fight.
In boxing, the most-hyped fights are usually the most boring. Two fighters with very high monetary value risk as little as possible over 12 rounds. Anyone who watched Mayweather hug Pacquiao for 12 rounds in May 2015 can attest to that. Yet, there is no mistake that an over-hyped fight brings in more pay-per-view buys and ticket sales.
De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions is deliberately putting off the Triple G-Canelo fight either to increase the hype for that match, or for strategic reasons, or both. Golovkin will be 35 by September 2017, and Canelo’s handlers are hoping that their fighter (who would only be 27) will have Father Time in his corner by that date.
Previously, Canelo drew criticism for fighting British welterweight Amir Khan from those observers who would prefer that he fight Triple G.
Meanwhile, Golovkin’s image as a fighter who would take on anybody, was hurt when he decided to fight another British welterweight: Kell Brook.
In truth, the Golovkin fight with Brook, and Canelo’s knockout wins over Amir Khan and 154-pound champion Liam Smith, were designed to help promote a future Triple G versus Canelo fight by building market share for that struggle in the United Kingdom.
With Golovkin’s win over Brook, the WBA has mandated that Triple G fight Daniel Jacobs. This is the opposite of an over-hyped fight. Instead, this bout is about two hungry and talented fighters who are little known outside of boxing circles, being pitted against one another in a crossroads fight.
On December 6, 2015, Jacobs headlined a Showtime fight card at Brooklyn's Barclays Center against former WBO Middleweight Champion Peter Quillin, also known as “Kid Chocolate.” The two fighters earned only $1.5 million apiece, brought less than 9,000 fans to the arena, and attracted less than 400,000 television viewers. Jacobs' first round TKO of “Kid Chocolate” was the most important win of his career, and he then followed that up with a solid TKO victory in a rematch over Sergio Mora this past month.
Make no mistake, Jacobs is a real test for Triple G. The Brooklyn native has been calling for a Golovkin fight in a firm, but respectful way for quite some time. This summer he tweeted “Let’s Do it…me vs. GGG!”
In a statement released by the Premier Boxing Champions network this summer he was even more explicit, “I would like to fight Gennady in Brooklyn, but no matter where it’s the biggest match of skillful middleweights that can happen.”
A Golovkin versus Jacobs fight would be better than a Canelo versus Golovkin for several reasons.
First, Canelo fights in the “Mexican style,” with vicious body attacks, working on the inside and often setting traps for his opponents in order to score a KO with an overhand right. Canelo used a similar tactic to knockout both Amir Khan and James Kirkland, and also employed it to good success in his bout against Miguel Cotto.
Canelo is cautious, and that bodes well for Golovkin, who in his big fights takes his time breaking down opponents. Daniel Jacobs, on the other hand, is more dynamic and isn’t afraid to slug it out, as his risky first round TKO of “Kid Chocolate” last year showed.
Second, while Golovkin’s style presents a challenge for Canelo, this won’t be the case with Jacobs, who has fought talented Eastern European body punchers before.
Jacobs’ only loss as a pro occurred in 2010 against undefeated Russian fighter Dmitry Pirog. That loss is important because at the time, Russia’s Pirog was regarded as a better prospect than Golovkin. If you haven’t heard of Pirog, it is because he last fought in 2012. The Russian has been sidelined since then with a back injury. Jacobs was only 23 at the time of the Pirog fight, and he was not a polished fighter. Yet, he was still ahead on the scorecards when he was knocked out in the fifth round.
Finally, it's not only Jacobs who can struggle with a hard-hitting opponent, but Golovkin as well. In his most recent fight against Brook, who is normally a welterweight, Golovkin was dazed for a couple of moments. Triple G’s defenders will say that Golovkin will be more cautious in a big fight, but there is no doubt that Golovkin has bad habits.
In his 2013 fight with Curtis Stevens, Golovkin was stunned a couple of times by Stevens' power. Golovkin came back to win handily, but Stevens doesn’t have the speed of Jacobs, and Jacobs hits harder. Is it that hard to imagine Golovkin underestimating Jacobs and then getting pegged with a few solid right hands for his hubris?
In conclusion, Golovkin versus Jacobs has the makings of a tremendous fight. Jacobs has perhaps the best power in the division, and Golovkin the best technique. Golovkin has the best chin in the business, and the 6’1" Jacobs matches it with a level of physicality that will give Golovkin a tough fight. Golovkin has faced few fighters with Jacobs' reach, height, and skill. Moreover, Golovkin is coming off an unexpectedly tough fight in London against Brook, and is taking the Jacobs fight on short rest. Jacobs is coming off a solid, confidence-building win against Sergio Mora.
Put the ingredients together and we have the makings of a great fight.
Who needs Canelo?