Gennady Golovkin’s age has come up often leading into his HBO pay-per-view showdown against Daniel Jacobs on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin wasn’t his usual dominant self against Kell Brook in September, and many boxing savants are pointing their fingers at the middleweight champion’s year on his birth certificate to offer an explanation.
The 34-year-old Golovkin wasn’t happy with his performance, either, but he’s not ready to throw in the white towel versus Father Time. The three-belt titlist offered a better explanation for his lackluster outing — he was just bored.
Golovkin-Brook was a massive fight in the United Kingdom, but it didn’t get the boxer from Kazakhstan fired up. Brook, who moved up two weight classes from welterweight, was landing clean punches, but it wasn’t enough to hurt the middleweight monster.
A sluggish Golovkin eventually put Brook away in the fifth round after fracturing the Englishman’s eye socket. Most boxers would be happy about that outcome.
“It was like a street fight to me,” Golovkin said. “After the first round, I knew it was over. I just wanted to end it, not show my technique.”
Golovkin, on a 23-fight knockout streak, spent most of 2016 chasing Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for a blockbuster bout, WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders for a unification match and other top 160-pound contenders. No one stepped up to Golovkin, giving him a disappointing year.
It took time, but Golovkin (36-0, 33 knockouts) finally has a formidable opponent. A signature bout to give his detractors who don’t buy the hype.
Jacobs, on a 12-fight knockout streak, is viewed by many as the second best middleweight in the division. Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) recorded an impressive 2015 first-round knockout versus 160-pound contender Peter Quillin, giving the New Yorker his second best career victory.
Jacobs, 30, defeated bone cancer in 2012 and isn’t afraid to fight Golovkin, especially in his hometown.
“Most people would say he has a lot more power, but just because he has A-plus or A-minus power, and I have B-plus or B-minus power doesn’t mean both guys can’t go down or both guys can’t get hurt,” Jacobs said. “This is boxing, and it’s all about putting your punches together perfectly.
“I have a different type of power. I have athletic power that people can’t see.”
Golovkin is a minus-880 favorite and Jacobs is a plus-660 underdog, according to VegasInsider.com. Both fighters made weight Friday after each stepped on the scale at 159 pounds.
“I think that all of these fighters like (Sergey) Kovalev and Andre (Ward) and Gennady, they need a challenge,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer. “Not just a physical challenge but also a mental challenge, and (Jacobs) presents that for us. He is the first guy in a while since maybe (David) Lemieux and (Curtis) Stevens that got Gennady fired up.”