A miracle almost happened on 34th street

By Jason Gonzalez


The ‘Big Apple’ is known to be the type of city where your dreams can become a reality. However, in the case of the middleweight kingpin Daniel Jacobs, his aspiration of becoming the “Top Dawg” at 160 pounds seemed less authentic and more fictional. In front of him stood his toughest task to date, well at least in the squared circle that is.


Outside of the ring, Jacobs survived the rough streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn. He also knocked out cancer. That alone is a supernatural phenomenon. But as far as boxing was concerned, in front of Jacobs stood Gennady Golovkin, a fighter feared by many - that had scored 23 consecutive knockouts prior to their epic showdown.


All of the experts and pundits alike deemed that it would take a miracle on 34th street for Jacobs to dethrone Golovkin. And guess what folks? It happened…well sort of.


Not to say that miracles don’t exist, and judging by Jacob’s previous accomplishments it’s obvious that they do. But unfortunately for him, he came in as a close second when crossing the finish line. No one saw that coming, prevailing wisdom suggested that Golovkin would have increased his streak to 24 within the distance. Jacobs exceeded all expectations.


Jacobs utilized a strategy that saw him switch back and forth from a conventional stance to a southpaw stance. He gave Golovkin angles, often times confusing him.


But it wasn’t without adversity. No stranger to overcoming obstacles, Jacobs had to overcome a two point deficit that manifested itself in the form of a knockdown in the 4th round. But with that being said, Jacobs felt that he had done enough to upset the apple cart and capture the middleweight championship before 19,939 at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night.


The scorecards did sing a different tune. All three judges were in favor of the native of Kazakhstan, by scores of 115-112 (twice), and 114-113. Maxboxing scored it 114-113 for Golovkin. It was an encounter that was close to call, as both combatants try to edge each other out in a photo finish during the homestretch.


Had it been reversed, there wouldn’t have been an outcry, even a draw was justified. In fact, had it not been for the only knockdown of the fight, the contest would have been called a draw on one of the scorecards, thus giving Golovkin a majority decision.


Jacobs got stronger as the fight progressed, as was evident by him sweeping the championship rounds (10, 11, and 12) on two of the official cards.


“I felt like I won the fight,” Jacobs said, now 32-2, (29). “But I can’t cry. I have to continue to perform.”


At the post-fight presser, Golovkin wasn’t shy on giving his competitor props.


“He is a very good fighter,” he said.


As far as a rematch in the foreseeable future, Golovkin seemed receptive.


“Of course, I want that fight,” he said.


But don’t bet on it, an immediate rematch doesn’t seem likely to take place. Moving forward, fight fans can expect the soon to be 35-year-old Golovkin to challenge Billy Joe Saunders of England for the WBO title this summer.


With the victory, Golovkin improved to 37-0, (33) while retaining the WBA and WBC strap in the process. Golovkin’s IBF belt wasn’t up for grabs, due to Jacobs declining to participate in the mandatory weigh in the day of the fight (Saturday morning).


The IBF requires that all of fighters competing and defending the championship of their sanctioning body, can only rehydrate up to 10 pounds the day of the fight. Jacobs was slightly under the 160-pound limit at the weigh-in on Friday morning. No one knows what Jacobs weighed in the day of the fight. Rumors have it that Jacobs was 175. As for Golovkin, he was 170.


The action commenced in the third round when Golovkin attacked Jacobs to the body, prompting Jacobs to retaliate with a combination of his own to the head of Golovkin. It was the kind of statement that informed Golovkin that it would be a long night, and Jacobs was going anywhere. In the fourth round, Golovkin landed a potent right-left hand combination that put Jacobs down on the canvas. He got up, but it prompted him to be more cautious.


By the seventh round, Jacobs had worked his way back into the fight and proceeded to switch from righty to lefty with more frequency. At this stage of the game, it appeared that Jacobs had grown accustomed to Golovkin’s power, because his shots weren’t affecting like before.


A Golovkin uppercut that landed in the ninth round on Jacobs momentarily stopped him in his track. In rounds 10 and 11 rounds, Jacobs’s confidence grew. Some might even say that he was getting cocky. But he stuck to the script, and used what was working for him. Golovkin struggled with Jacobs’s right jab, his straight left that he would sneak in intermittently, as well as the left hook. You have to wonder why didn’t Jacobs didn’t implement this strategy for the remainder of the fight?


Heading into the 12th round, as per Max Kellerman’s affidavit, he informed the viewers on television and to the spectators in attendance (During the post-fight interview), that HBO’s unofficial judge Harold Lederman had said at that specific juncture, “It was anybody’s fight.” The bout concluded with Jacobs remaining active by letting his hands go in certain spots, while Golovkin stalked him, looking to knock him out.


“I think I won by two rounds at least,” Jacobs, 30, said in the post-fight presser. “All I can do is be gracious in the decision.”


Even though Golovkin may have slightly edged out Jacobs, Jacobs may have benefitted more this night, making it bitter sweet for him. Jacobs made the most feared man in boxing look beatable.


In the co-feature bout of the evening, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, lost his super flyweight WBC championship, along with his status as being the best fighter pound-for-pound to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. On the contrary, Gonzalez should have escaped the Garden with a narrow victory over Sor Rungvisai of Thailand, but instead would lose a majority decision. Sor Rungvisai gave Gonzalez all that he could handle during their brutal and violent encounter at the “Boxing Mecca”.


Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai was an excellent matchup, which will be in the running for “Fight of the Year” honors at the conclusion of 2017. At the conclusion of the brawl, the scorecards read 114-113 (twice), and 113-113. Maxboxing scored it 114-112 for Gonzalez.


Gonzalez was dropped with a body shot in the first round. He also sustained cuts to his right eye that occurred as the result of several head-butts throughout the night, a common occurrence whenever a righty faces a southpaw.


"I’m a little dinged up," Gonzalez said through a translator in his post-fight interview. "I thought I won the fight. I want an immediate rematch. I want to get my title back."


It was assumed that Gonzalez of Nicaragua, a former four division champion, now 46-1, (38), would have beaten Sor Rungvisai, moving on to face Carlos Cuadras in a highly anticipated rematch towards the end of the year. But in the sport of boxing nothing is guaranteed. So it’s back to the drawing board for Gonzalez.


"I want to thank the fans in Thailand for sending me encouragement and I was able to do it because of all of their encouragement," Sor Rungvisai said through a translator, in his post-fight interview. Sor Rungvisai was fighting for the first time in the United States. "At this point, after winning this fight, I believe I can take on anyone, including a rematch with him. I have to admit he is a very good fighter and he would not give up."


Halfway through the first round, Sor Rungvisai connected with a right hand to the body of Gonzalez that floored him. It was the first time that Gonzalez was ever knocked down as a champion, and only the second time he had been down in his career. Throughout the bout were many tough exchanges between the prizefighters. Sor Rungvisai’s body language in the fight indicated that he was unfazed by Gonzalez’s excellent pedigree.


An accidental head butt in the third round opened a cut over Gonzalez’s right eye. Gonzalez appeared frustrated as the collision of heads continued. Sor Rungvisai has now improved to 42-4-1, (38). The nod marks his 15th victory in a row since losing to Cuadras three years ago.


So while Gonzalez and Sor Rungvisai played rock’em sock’ em robots, another clash of heads in the eighth, quickly prompted referee Steve Willis to deduct a point from Sor Rungvisai.


At the start of the 12th round, it seemed that the fight may have been hanging in the balance. Gonzalez and Sor Rungvisai went for broke, letting it all hang out. Both Gonzalez and Sor Rungvisai showed grit, courage, and granite chins.


This was the first time that the 29-year-old Gonzalez didn’t have his head trainer, Arnulfo Obando working the corner. Obando had passed away in November last year.


But based on Gonzalez’s last two performances, the 115 pound limit may be too much weight for him to carry. Gonzalez has now had back-to-back fights (Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai) that has left many asking if there is too much mileage on the odometer. Gonzalez’s best days as an elite fighter may just be behind him.


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