Photos: Ed Mulholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
So embedded has Gennady Golovkin become in the upper echelons of boxing, it’s hard to believe that it was only four years and four months ago that he first exploded onto HBO screens with an emphatic stoppage of Grzergorz Proksa in December 2012. Twelve subsequent opponents have stepped up to challenge the Kazakh middleweight; twelve have been summarily dispatched, all of them within the distance. Throughout this brief but dominant rampage through the 160-pound division, Golovkin has called out forlornly for a real challenge. The consensus is that he finally has one this Saturday, when he takes on Daniel Jacobs in the main event from Madison Square Garden on HBO PPV.
“I think he is my toughest opponent,” admitted Golovkin after a Monday press conference featuring the two fighters, which kicked off fight week ahead of an anticipated snowstorm that is predicted to engulf the Big Apple on Tuesday. It is not just the fact that Jacobs is bigger and taller than Golovkin, with strong boxing skills and an impressive knockout record; it is also, said the Kazakh, “his boxing IQ.”
There is something else. “I’m crazy!” proclaimed Jacobs with a smile – because, he explained, he is a man without fear of any opponent, even Golovkin. And understandably so, given that he has already faced and defeated a foe far greater than any boxer. Six years ago, almost to the month, he was diagnosed with cancer; 15 months after having a tumor removed from his spine, he was back in the ring, and now he is on the precipice of taking on one of the biggest names in sport in front of his hometown New York crowd.
It has been 15 years since, as he told those assembled at the press conference, a young Jacobs sat in the Garden watching the Golden Gloves. His then-trainer promised him that soon he would be participating in and winning that tournament and would then embark on a stellar pro career. The potential pinnacle of that career is now just five days away.