Golovkin-Jacobs is the ideal start to GGG’s 2017 campaign

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Gennady Golovkin (blue trunks) and Kell Brook (red trunks) in action during their World Middleweight Title contest at The O2 Arena on September 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Gennady Golovkin (blue trunks) and Kell Brook (red trunks) in action during their World Middleweight Title contest at The O2 Arena on September 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

After lengthy negotiations and unsettling uncertainty, unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin will face secondary titlist Daniel Jacobs on March 18 at Madison Sqaure Garden in an absorbing match-up. This is the ideal start to what could be a defining 2017 for Golovkin.

Although boxing fans are understandably desperate to see Gennady Golovkin fight Canelo Alvarez, GGG’s scheduled bout against Daniel Jacobs ticks two necessary boxes: first, it allows Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) to test himself against the second best full-fledged middleweight in the world, and second, it provides him with the opportunity to tidy up the WBA portion of his belt collection by besting the sanctioning body’s “regular” champion.

Moreover, with Canelo Alvarez recently being named the mandatory challenger to WBO 160-pound belt-holder Billy Joe Saunders, a Golovkin win over Jacobs sets the stage for GGG’s desperately desired unification clash for all the middleweight marbles.

Regardless of who wins Saunders-Alvarez, the man left standing will have backed himself into a corner. Even if Canelo opts to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a circus attraction catchweight contest at 164 pounds instead, the Mexican idol will have clearly signaled his intention to camp out at the middleweight limit, which means he will no longer be able to manipulate the narrative of clearly ducking Golovkin. Should Saunders upset Canelo, which would be shocking given his recent form, he also won’t be able to hide behind the excuse that he’s still building towards a fight with GGG.

All of this, of course, is contingent on Golovkin defeating Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs). And luckily for fans, Jacobs presents a new set of challenges that Golovkin hasn’t had to deal with simultaneously: one-punch power, legitimate middleweight size, elite athleticism and a strong amateur pedigree.

Golovkin will be a clear favorite against Jacobs, both because of what he’s accomplished as champion and due to the lingering image of Jacobs getting knocked out by Dmitry Pirog. That loss, though, came all the way back in 2010, and since then Jacobs has reeled off 12 consecutive stoppages and scored a defining win over rival Peter Quillin. Simply put, Jacobs, much like David Lemieux in 2015, is as ready for GGG as he’ll ever be.

According to a report by ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler is ecstatic that the Jacobs fight is finalized:

"“There was a lot of back and forth and working out the details, and then pay-per-view was discussed to reach the guarantees we were talking about for both sides,” Loeffler said. “I’m happy we were able to announce a fight and work on a promotion rather than speculate what’s going to happen with the purse bid."

Gennady Golovkin is looking for big fights.
Gennady Golovkin is looking for big fights. /

"“The fans and even the media have Triple G withdrawals. He just fought in September, and people make it sound like he’s been out of the ring for like two years. They are so used to seeing him fight. But we’re happy to be back in promoter mode where we can actually go on sale with tickets.”"

Loeffler is absolutely correct in stating that fans are going through Golovkin withdraw, but the reality is that GGG has also entered a different phase of his career. While the ideal is still seeing GGG in three or four fights per year, at 34 he needs to be more judicious with his opponent selection — a fact clearly reflected by the excellent balance his promotional team is striking with regards to keep him busy and holding out for deserved opportunities now that Golovkin has built up so much goodwill with boxing fans.

The Jacobs fight coming together is the latest example of that, and it can also be viewed as positive from the standpoint of a Premier Boxing Champions fighter being permitted to step outside the Al Haymon safe zone.

Next: Bernard Hopkins and the fallacy of fulfillment

So, while it’s still disappointing that Golovkin-Canelo didn’t happen in 2016, be thankfully that GGG and his team have continued to focus on what they can control. It’s for this reason that Golovkin continues to press forward and hasn’t sidelined himself, and while the payoff may not be instantaneous, it’s there — and only getting bigger.