Gennady Golovkin wins narrow decision in back-and-forth slugfest with Daniel Jacobs

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Daniel Jacobs (R) lands a punch on Gennady Golovkin during their title fight on Saturday. (Getty)
Daniel Jacobs (R) lands a punch on Gennady Golovkin during their title fight on Saturday. (Getty)

NEW YORK – There was no miracle on this night, even though the Miracle Man put in a spirited bid to pull a stunning upset.

Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs ended Gennady Golovkin’s 23-fight knockout streak, but he couldn’t end the most important streak.

Golovkin pulled out a tight unanimous decision to remain undefeated and retain the IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles in a tense battle before 19,939 at Madison Square Garden.

“Tough, tough guy,” Golovkin said of Jacobs.

Both were tough, and it was a nip-and-tuck battle that highlighted the skills and the grittiness of each. Golovkin scored the only knockdown of the fight, landing a left, two hard rights and another left to put Jacobs on the seat of his pants in the fourth round.

Judges had it 115-112 twice and 114-113 for Golovkin. Yahoo Sports scored it 114-113, seven rounds to five, for Jacobs.

“I thought I won the fight,” said Jacobs, who fell to 32-2 following a pitched battle he easily could have won.

The pay-per-view card included the two men considered the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Roman Gonzalez and Golovkin.

Gonzalez was upset, losing for the first time in 47 bouts, in a sensational battle when Srisaket Sor Rungvisai pulled out a majority decision victory.

Golovkin landed more, and at a higher percentage, according to CompBox. Golovkin landed 231 of 615 punches while Jacobs connected on 175 of 541.

“We got the tough rounds we needed,” Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez said. “I give Gennady a 7½ or 8 out of a 10. Daniel’s athleticism was strong tonight. Gennady’s accuracy was not quite as pinpoint as in the past. I’m happy with Gennady’s performance.”

It was one of those nights that showed boxing in a great light. The Gonzalez-Rungvisai fight was an incredible battle in which both men poured their hearts out.

The same thing happened in the main event. Jacobs, whose only prior loss was in 2010 to Dmitry Pirog a week after his grandmother died, was at his best.

He was effortlessly switching from conventional to southpaw and was hitting Golovkin with clean, hard shots. Golovkin’s face showed the effects of the battle.

Golovkin clearly left the ring with tremendous respect for Jacobs.

“Daniel Jacobs is my favorite fighter,” Golovkin said. “He’s clean and a good quality, very good fighter.”

Golovkin did his part, barely, to keep alive the long-discussed bout with Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez has a fight in May with Julio Cesar Chavez he needs to win, but if he does, it figures to set up the biggest fight of the year.

Golovkin had discussed fighting Billy Joe Saunders in June for the WBO middleweight belt, but promoter Tom Loeffler said his preference would be for Golovkin to fight Alvarez. But there is no guarantee that Alvarez will beat Chavez, or that Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya will make the fight.

Jacobs won the final three rounds on the cards of Max DeLuca and Steve Weisfeld, and won two of the final three on Don Trella’s card.

Jacobs was strong down the stretch and several times shouted emotionally at Golovkin.

“I think I won the fight and I think the fans support me on the decision,” Jacobs said. “I think I won by two rounds at least. “

When Jacobs went down in the fourth, it seemed like a familiar scene. Golovkin came after Jacobs looking for his 24th consecutive finish, but Jacobs showed the grit and tenacity that helped him to overcome cancer.

He fought furiously back and wouldn’t wilt.

“After the knockdown, I told him he’d have to kill me,” Jacobs. “When I got up, I thought ‘Is this all he has?’ There were many times during the fight I went toe-to-toe because I knew I could.”

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