Photos: Ed Mulholland
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.