Golovkin Calm, Jacobs Confident at Early Weigh-In

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Eric Raskin

The city that never sleeps became the city where you can’t sleep in -- not if you wanted to catch the official weigh-in for Saturday’s Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs HBO Pay-Per-View fight card, anyway. Typically, big-fight weigh-ins take place in the afternoon the day before the show, giving boxers some 30 hours to rehydrate. But for a variety of reasons -- including avoiding going head-to-head with March Madness action -- Golovkin, Jacobs and the undercard fighters began stepping on the scale at the Theater at Madison Square Garden at 9 a.m. on Friday, meaning “GGG” and “The Miracle Man” will have had some 38 hours to replenish themselves before they enter the ring to determine who is the world’s best middleweight.

Both men made weight with a few ounces to spare: Jacobs scaled 159.8 pounds, Golovkin 159.6. As they stared each other down, it was clear that Jacobs is taller (three inches, officially), and he has long been reputed to be the naturally heavier man who struggles more to get his body under the 160-pound limit. So does the early weigh-in give the underdog from Brooklyn an advantage? That remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t rate to hurt his chances at upsetting the undefeated Kazakh.

Even though Jacobs is the local fighter, GGG had the support of more of the fans who lined up at sun-up to attend the weigh-in. There were “Tri-ple-G! Tri-ple-G!” chants as Golovkin climbed onto the stage, and he responded with his usual nonchalant smile. Golovkin didn’t have much of note to say after making weight, other than acknowledging that Jacobs is his most dangerous pro opponent and replacing his usual advertisement of a “big drama show” with a more all-encompassing promise of a “big drama event.”

Jacobs, on the other hand, had plenty to say.

“You’re gonna see [me do] whatever it takes to win,” he told weigh-in host and HBO Boxing Insider Kieran Mulvaney. “I’m a true champion, I adjust. My preparation was right, I’m making sure I do what I gotta do to get the victory. Point blank. Period.”

Mulvaney asked Jacobs why he’s so confident he’ll succeed where all others have failed against GGG, and he barked, “Because I’m the man. I believe in myself, and I’m not those other guys. I’m different. I’m a different commodity. I’m a different champion. My mindset is different. My skill level is different. You’re going to see that on Saturday night … Nobody needs to believe in me but me. I can have all the boos in the world, but I believe in me.”

Undercard weights:

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez: 114.6 pounds
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai: 114 pounds

Carlos Cuadras: 115.6 pounds
David Carmona: 115.8 pounds

Ryan Martin: 134.6 pounds
Bryant Cruz: 135 pounds

 

Podcast: GGG-Jacobs Fight Week Pod No. 5 -- Weigh-In Discussion

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney are live at the Gennady "GGG" Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs weigh-in at Madison Square Garden, analyzing what happened on the scales as well as the betting odds on the fight. They also welcome middleweight contender Andy Lee for an interview, plus Kieran goes one-on-one with both Golovkin and Jacobs.

Golovkin vs. Jacobs airs live on HBO pay-per-view on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Watch: Golovkin-Jacobs Official Weigh-In Livestream

Watch LIVE! Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs official weigh-in.

Golovkin vs. Jacobs happens Saturday, March 18 live on pay-per-view beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Podcast: GGG-Jacobs Fight Week Pod No. 4 -- Interview with Jim Lampley

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney welcome Hall of Fame HBO Boxing broadcaster Jim Lampley to the podcast for a conversation covering the Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs showdown, David Lemieux's frightening knockout of Curtis Stevens, Jim's favorite fighters growing up, and much more.

Golovkin vs. Jacobs is available live on HBO Pay-Per-View on Saturday, March 18 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. 

Undercard Overview: Chocolatito and Cuadras Face Challenges

Photos: Ed Mulholland/K2

By Nat Gottlieb

Throughout his much-heralded career, when unbeaten Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez stepped into the ring, fans expected only two results: either he would score another breathtaking knockout, or use his dazzling array of boxing skills to earn a unanimous decision by wide margin.

But that was Gonzalez’s boxing life before he stepped into the ring last year with super flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras, a naturally bigger fighter. In a sensational bout in which 1,822 punches were thrown, Cuadras not only gave Gonzalez the toughest fight of his career, but also left the Nicaraguan with a swollen face filled with bruises. Gonzalez won the fight to remain unbeaten, but his aura of invincibility was suddenly brought into question.

The Nicaraguan will get the chance to dispel any doubts about his spot atop the boxing world when he takes on Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a rugged boxer with one-punch knockout power, on March 18 at Madison Square Garden on HBO PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KOs) will join Gonzalez on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs undercard, taking on David Carmona (20-3-5, 8 KOs), a Mexican rival hungry to prove he belongs in the mix with the best of the super flyweight division. Although there’s been talk of a rematch with Gonzalez, Cuadras will have to not only beat Carmona, but do so impressively in order to get a second shot at the Nicaraguan.

In the hard-hitting Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38 KOs), Gonzalez will be tangling with a fighter who’s virtually unknown outside of Thailand. But that doesn’t mean he should be taken lightly by Gonzalez. Although Cuadras came into the ring with Gonzalez wearing a super flyweight world title, like Rungvisai, he was largely unknown outside of his native country of Mexico.

Can Rungvisai, a former world champion, duplicate what Cuadras did and give Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KOs) a run for his money? Tom Loeffler, the managing director of the Nicaraguan’s American promoter, K2 Promotions, wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

“Rungvisai is a very dangerous puncher that definitely earned his right to challenge for the championship,” Loeffler says. “This should be a tremendous matchup.”

This is not just promoter hype. There’s a good reason that Loeffler believes Rungvisai will be competitive against Gonzalez. The Thai boxer and Gonzalez share a common opponent in Cuadras. Rungvisai traveled from Thailand to fight on Cuadras’ home turf, and he battled the Mexican every bit as hard as Gonzalez did before losing a technical decision on an accidental head butt in the eighth round. Many observers felt that had the bout not been stopped, Rungvisai had a real chance to win.

The scorecards at the time were certainly close enough to suggest that. At the stoppage, the judges had it scored in favor of Cuadras, 78-74, 77-75 and 77-76. One can’t say what would have happened in the later rounds had the fight not been stopped, but the closeness of the scorecards legitimately raises the possibility that Rungvisai could’ve won. Since that fight, the southpaw has reeled off 14 straight stoppages, albeit against suspect opposition in Thailand.

Some might underestimate Rungvisai because the Thai has three other losses on his record, but that record is misleading. Rungvisai was thrown to the wolves early in his career. In his debut he was knocked out by a rising contender and future champion. In his second and fifth bouts, he was again overmatched against much more experienced boxers. Until proven otherwise, Rungvisai has a fighter’s chance to upset Gonzalez.

One reason for optimism in Rungvisai’s camp is that he has fought virtually all of his bouts in the super flyweight division. Gonzalez, on the other hand, will be boxing for just the second time in the weight class.

After Cuadras gave Gonzalez such a tough fight, some wondered if the Nicaraguan, who was competing and winning a title in his fourth weight division, was getting in too deep at super flyweight.

Loeffler, however, doesn’t give much currency to the notion that Gonzalez may not be able to duplicate his dominance over the naturally bigger fighters in the division.

“Anytime someone moves up four weight divisions after they are already in their prime, it makes it more challenging by fighting bigger guys,” Loeffler says. “But Chocolatito fights at such a high level, I think he could be competing at this world class for a long time. I have not heard Roman talk about retirement. He is still in the prime of his career and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.”

A big reason to believe Gonzalez will be able to handle Rungvisai more easily than he did Cuadras is the Thai’s style of boxing seems tailor-made for him. Whereas Cuadras moved around the ring with his superior footwork and made Gonzalez work hard to engage him, Rungvisai is a plodder who will be standing right in front of the champion trying to press the action.

Another difference between Rungvisai and Cuadras is how much each uses the jab. Cuadras has a terrific jab, and he fired it with abandon in Gonzalez’s face during the early rounds. Rungvisai rarely bothers to use the punch. Of course, the Thai boxer may very well have a top-notch jab, but simply didn’t need to use it against inferior opponents in his native country. Against Cuadras, Rungvisai did employ the jab several times, but he didn’t seem to throw it with much conviction. 

Whatever the case, unless the knockout power Rungvisai displayed in Thailand is the real deal, it’s likely that Gonzalez, who has never tasted canvas, will outbox the challenger easily and use his own impressive power to test the Thai fighter’s chin. 

Cuadras also faces something of an unknown commodity in Carmona, who has decent hand speed and likes to use his left hook to do most of his damage. Carmona also has championship experience, having fought and lost two title fights. In his last bout, he took on the undefeated and much-ballyhooed super flyweight champion, Naoya Inoue, in Japan. While Carmona didn’t win, he became the first boxer to take Inoue the distance, losing a unanimous decision by a wide margin.

For Cuadras, the stakes are clear. Based on his performance against Gonzalez, he looks like he belongs with the elite core of super flyweights. But that perception would quickly change if he either loses to Carmona, or doesn’t dominate him. 

Also on the televised portion of the card is Ryan Martin (17-0, 8 KOs), a slick former Olympic hopeful who’s being touted as a future force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division. Martin will be facing Bryan Cruz (17-1, 8 KOs), an unheralded prospect from Port Chester, N.Y. Martin is an unusually tall lightweight at 5-foot-11, with a broad upper body, and appears to have the size potential to be a welterweight.

“Ryan Martin is a tremendous talent,” Loeffler says. “He’s in a tough matchup against a New York local favorite, who is looking to shine in front of his home town crowd.”

Martin is well thought of enough to have attracted the attention of trainer Abel Sanchez, who has conditioned many champions, including Golovkin. Martin worked with Sanchez at high altitude in Big Bear, Calif., for the first half of his fight preparation, before finishing up with his regular coach, Joe Delguyd, in Cleveland. 

Golovkin vs. Jacobs: A True New York City Fight

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Wallace Matthews

Long before there was a Yankee Stadium, more than 40 years before New York had an NFL team and more than a half-century before the NBA was born, the Big Apple was a fight town.
From the first documented Madison Square Garden boxing event – a three-round “no-decision” bout between heavyweights Jem Mace and Hubert Maori Slade in 1883 – and passing through the single-greatest night in the history of boxing, the epic first meeting of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier on March 8, 1971, New York has long been the boxing capital of the world. 

Looking for a fight? You come to New York. More often than not, we’ve got one for you.

And more than just a fight town, New York has always been a middleweight town. The so-called “average man’’ division has always attracted the attention of the country’s least-average city, and more great middleweight champions have come from New York City than from anywhere else in the world.

Rocky Graziano, Jake LaMotta, Joey Giardello, Ben Jeby, Iran Barkley, Davey Moore and Doug DeWitt were all native New Yorkers who rose to the world middleweight title, and Sugar Ray Robinson (via Detroit), Emile Griffith (via the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Vito Antuofermo (via Bari, Italy) were all transplanted New Yorkers whose title reigns were inextricably linked to their adopted hometowns.

Add to that prodigious list Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin, who will meet to unify the world middleweight title on March 18 at – where else? – Madison Square Garden.

Jacobs, of course, is a native New Yorker, a product of the same Brownsville, Brooklyn neighborhood that spawned Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Zab Judah and Shannon Briggs. Golovkin was born in Kazakhstan and now lives in Santa Monica, California, but considers New York his home base; the Jacobs fight will be his fifth at Madison Square Garden and he has headlined three of the last four shows held in the Garden’s main arena dating back to 2014.

Their scheduled 12-round bout is among the most highly-anticipated matchups the middleweight division can offer, pairing one fighter (Golovkin) who is as intimidating to middleweights as Mike Tyson was to heavyweights 30 years ago, and another (Jacobs) who has beaten an even scarier foe than Golovkin, having survived a 2011 bout with a form of bone cancer that left doctors doubting he would ever walk again, let alone fight.

When the two come together on March 18, it is bound to add to the proud legacy of not just boxing, but middleweight boxing, in the building that is known around the world as the Mecca of the sport.

“Even in Kazakhstan we knew about Madison Square Garden,’’ Golovkin told me recently during a visit to his training camp in Los Angeles. “I feel very comfortable at Madison Square Garden. I know Danny is from Brooklyn, but I feel like New York is my home.”

Indeed, although more than 500 fans are expected to travel from Golovkin’s native Kazakhstan to attend the fight, the fact that he has sold out the Garden every time he has fought there attests to a popularity that crosses ethnic and racial lines, from the Russian and Ukrainian enclaves of Brighton Beach to the Hispanic communities throughout the city that have always been loyal and vociferous fight fans. 

“Our game plan was always to build him in New York City,’’ said Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, who took over the direction of the fighter’s career in 2012, after his first 23 fights, mostly fought in Germany. “His fight against David Lemieux (from Canada) sold out the Garden in spite of there being no local fighters on the card. That hasn’t been done since the days of the great Puerto Rican fighters like (Miguel) Cotto and (Felix) Trinidad. It’s almost unheard of that a non-Latino or a non-heavyweight can sell out the Garden like that.’’

Jacobs, who grew up in an apartment on Pitkin Avenue just blocks away from where Bowe lived on Lott Avenue and not far from Mike Tyson’s boyhood home on Amboy Street, scored his most notable win in his native Brooklyn, knocking out Peter Quillin – another transplanted New York middleweight – in the first round in December 2015. This will be Jacobs’ fourth fight at Madison Square Garden, but his first in a main event.

“I thought headlining the Barclays center was an all-time high for me, because I’m a Brooklyn guy, and I’m actually the first world champion from Brooklyn to win his title in Brooklyn,’’ he said. “That was really special for me. But when I think of fighting at the Garden, all I can think about is Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, all those guys who had the chance to display their talents and now it’s the same for me. I feel like I’m following in the footsteps of those guys.’’

Those are giant steps to fill and it will likely take a giant effort by Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) to deal Golovkin his first defeat after 36 victories and 33 by knockout, including 23 in row stretching back to 2008. But huge middleweight upsets have happened here – Robinson was upset by Gene Fullmer and Denny Moyer at the Garden and by Carmen Basilio at Yankee Stadium, and a supposedly washed-up Roberto Duran shockingly knocked out Davey Moore at MSG in 1983 – and Jacobs draws upon his own upset victory over the osteosarcoma that almost ended his career, and life, six years ago, for inspiration against Golovkin.

“I think, to beat a guy like Golovkin you have to be mentally tough,’’ Jacobs said. “And what guy could be tougher than me, after what I’ve battled?  You never really know who you are until your back is against the wall like that. I know now that I can’t be broken, especially by fear. I will fight the best fight of my life that night.’’

Spoken like a true New Yorker, but Daniel Jacobs is more than that.

He is a New York middleweight, a special breed of cat with a long, proud history in a town that has never stopped fighting for an instant.

Podcast: GGG-Jacobs Fight Week Pod No. 3 -- Mailbag

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney open up the mailbag to answer listener questions (and give away signed gloves as prizes) pertaining to Gennady "GGG" Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs -- and the fights on the undercard -- taking place Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Golovkin vs. Jacobs is available live on HBO Pay-Per-View on Saturday, March 18 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. To purchase the fight, visit: www.insidehboboxing.com/golovkinjacobs

CompuBox Preview+Prediction: Golovkin vs. Jacobs

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Compubox

Gennady Golovkin's critics have long cited the absence of genuinely threatening opponents during his 23-fight KO streak that goes back nearly nine years and his middleweight reign that has encompassed 12 defenses of the recognized version of the WBA title and five more defenses of subordinate versions. On Saturday, “GGG” will face a mortal threat from within as he will face WBA "regular" titlist Daniel Jacobs, who has scored 12-straight knockouts since his only defeat to then-WBO titlist Dmitry Pirog six-and-a-half years ago. Want to talk about a potential shootout? Both have fought past the eighth round a combined four times in their 69 fights while scoring a combined 39 KOs inside three rounds.

Precision Missiles: Golovkin's KO percentage -- the highest ever achieved by a middleweight champion in boxing history -- suggests he's a brutish wrecking machine, but in reality he's a state-of-the-art fighter jet that drops laser-guided bombs that level everything they hit. Consider his most recent effort against reigning IBF welterweight titlist Kell Brook: 64.7 punches per round, a jab that carved up Brook like a thanksgiving turkey (23.7 thrown/12.5 connects per round and 53% accuracy) and a hook that broke Brook's orbital bone the first time it landed. 

Brook thrilled the London crowd by landing well in Rounds 2 and 3 but in reality he was staving off the inevitable. In Round 5, GGG lowered the boom as he went 30 of 67 overall (45%) to Brook's 6 of 21 (29%) and led 25-5 in power connects, prompting Brook's corner to intervene and cap a fight in which the Brit led 133-85 overall, 58-25 jabs and 75-60 power. Yes, it was a bit worrisome that Brook landed 37% of his power shots but Golovkin's 39% was more than enough to make up for it. 

The Brook fight was just an extension of what GGG had been doing all along; if one includes Brook, in his last 12 fights, Golovkin has landed 40.5% overall (No. 2 on the Compubox Categorical Leaders list), 34.8% jabs (No. 1 on The CompuBox Categorical Leaders list) and 45.4% power (8% higher than the division average), while absorbing 25.4%, 15.9% and 33.5%, respectively. Also impressive was GGG’s jabbing as he landed 10.9 per round -- more than double the 4.8 middleweight average and No. 1 on The CompuBox Categorical Leaders list. GGG also landed 34.8% of his jabs, again No. 1 on the list.  GGG more than doubled his foes' overall connects per round (27.5 vs. 11.5) and doubled their power connects (16.6 vs. 8.2).

Further, within this time frame, GGG amassed a plus-15.1 plus/minus rating -- tied for No. 3 among plus/minus leaders -- a super impressive number given his aggressive style (67.9 punches thrown per round/27.5 landed).  

Rebuilding a Reputation: After the humbling loss to Pirog (whom he was outlanding 73-43 in total punches and 51-27 in power shots before the end came), Jacobs has established himself as a premier middleweight inside the ring and a true survivor outside it as he overcame cancer and became the first cancer survivor to win a version of a world boxing championship.

Only two of those fights went past Round 5: His 12th-round stoppage of Caleb Truax in what had been a slow-paced affair (41 punches per round to Truax's 32.9) marked by Jacobs' marksmanship (39% overall and 53% power to Truax's 17% and 22%, respectively) and his most recent fight, a seven-round rematch KO over former 154-pound titlist Sergio Mora. There, Jacobs, curiously fighting southpaw for long stretches, scored questionable knockdowns in Rounds 4 and 5 but finished the fight with three thunderous ones in the seventh. He led 80-25 overall and 61-14 power while averaging 51.6 punches per round to Mora's 38.3. Jacobs’ accuracy was sub-par thanks to Mora's still-slippery movement (23% overall, 12% jabs, 32% power), but Jacobs was even better on defense (10% overall, 7% jabs, 16% power). 

Most of the time, however, Jacobs has cashed in on his tremendous early power: Mora went in Round 1 in their first fight, as did Quillin, who was out-landed 27-2 overall and 25-1 power in their 85-second encounter.  In six of his fights tracked by CompuBox, Jacobs averaged just 47.5 punches thrown per round (15.9 landed, 33.5%).  He did land 11.2 of 23.9 power shots per round (46.9%). Note: Opponents landed just 2.3 of 21.7 jabs per round. Jacobs will see a jab like none other once GGG starts to unload.   

Prediction: Jacobs' trainer wants his charge to average 100 punches per round against GGG, a mark he has never reached; in fact, the Brooklyn native has averaged half that and we know the risk involved when a fighter is overly aggressive, especially against a pinpoint puncher like GGG.  Meanwhile, GGG consistently brings high output and accuracy to his fights and his versatility against a higher grade of foe will serve him well. GGG by mid-rounds TKO.