WBA middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs understands he’s the underdog when he steps into the ring Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against Gennady Golovkin, who holds the WBC, IBF and IBO titles.
Not only does Golovkin hold the majority of the belts, but he has a string of 23 straight knockouts that puts a certain amount of trepidation into the hearts of his opponents.
When he sat with the media Monday at the Garden, Jacobs compared Golovkin’s fear factor to that generated by former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
“We’ve seen that a lot in Mike Tyson fights,” Jacobs said. “A guy was previously a totally different fighter, and when he stepped in there with Mike, you could see he was a little nervous, a little fidgety, and he didn’t give his best performance.”
Jacobs cited English middleweight Martin Murray, who was knocked down three times before being stopped by Golovkin in the 11th round two years ago, as a good example.
“I’ve actually gotten in the ring with Martin Murray a couple times as an amateur,” said Jacobs, who beat Murray twice, “and he was more aggressive. But [against Golovkin] he just went from one rope to the other rope to the other rope to the other rope. There was no other game plan, and I could see it was an intimidation factor.
“It’s a hard skill to learn, but under that type of pressure, you have to have a sense of calmness and stillness. I think we’ve got it down pat. I’m looking forward to letting my hands flow, being comfortable, having fun.”
Jacobs said his sparring partners did a good job of pressuring him as Golovkin will do. More to the point, Jacobs believes his winning battle over cancer has given him the mental strength to face up to Golovkin.
In May, 2011, Jacobs was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a deadly form of bone cancer. Doctors told him he might never walk again because of a tumor that wrapped itself around his spine and left him partially paralyzed. But 17 months later, he returned to the ring and began his climb to a world title.
“I definitely think I’m the more mentally strong fighter, the better fighter, too,” Jacobs said. “He’s not cancer. This is not a life-threatening situation. This is a man coming to inflict some harm to me. Where the cancer and going through all my ordeals helped was strengthening my mental capacity and allowing myself to, once again, have my back against the wall and having everyone doubt me.
“Listen, I have lived for this moment. I’m not going to be intimidated. He hits hard and cuts the ring. I’m going to be ready for all those things. The last thing I’m worried about is being intimidated or losing before I go in the ring.”
Jacobs freely acknowledged Golovkin has the more impressive resume. His best victory was a first-round KO over Peter Quillin 15 months ago.
“You guys have to understand that, when I was coming back from cancer . . . we had to gradually get back to that point. It took us about three years fighting guys appropriately, climbing up that ladder until we were at this level. But it doesn’t take away from what I bring to the table.”
It might not show up on his record, but the fighter known as “The Miracle Man” has a win over the “Big C.” So, why fear “GGG?”