On Saturday, March 18, 2017, HBO Pay-Per-View broadcast an outstanding card live from “The Mecca of Boxing,” Madison Square Garden.
The main event, dubbed “Middleweight Madness,” featured two of the best Middleweight fighters in the world as Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) defeated Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) by unanimous decision in an epic 12-round battle.
In the co-featured event of the evening, the majority ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, Roman Gonzalez, engaged in a 12-round war with Thailand’s, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
The Super Flyweight bout featured 12 close rounds of non-stop action, of which, Gonzalez came out on the losing side of a close majority decision.
This card was full of both little and big drama shows, with plenty to discuss in its aftermath.
Here are five important lessons we learned from Saturday night’s HBO Pay-Per-View Boxing card.
1. GGG Has Been ‘Exposed’
Until this past Saturday night, Gennady Golovkin had not partaken in a fight that ended in a decision since 2008.
Every fight since, for the last eight years, had ended with a knockout stoppage of his opponent.
It was clear before the fight that Jacobs would be one of the toughest challenges of Golovkin’s storied career, even though it seemed predicted, almost unanimously, that GGG would end up, as he had for his previous 23 outings, a winner by knockout.
However, Jacobs was able to take Golovkin the full distance, a full 12 rounds, which is somewhere the Kazakh has never been.
The term exposed is usually reserved for when a hyped prospect loses his first professional fight. For it to be applied to a fighter who has over 11 defenses of his title while scoring a unanimous decision victory seems out of character however, bear with me.
To say Golovkin has been exposed seems a little extreme. Jacobs, a full sized Middleweight, on his best outing, in his best shape, was able to compete with Golovkin in all rounds, but not able to bully him, hurt him, or even really frustrate him.
If exposed seems like an over-exaggeration, we can at least all agree that Golovkin has now in Kell Brook and Danny Jacobs proven himself to be more vulnerable. This athlete, like all others before him, is not perfect.
When provided a true Middleweight competitor with boxing skills, like Jacobs, Golovkin struggled to keep up with the angles, the speed and jab of a true boxer-puncher. Golovkin will continue to have trouble with any fighter that can truly box and somehow withstand his punching power.
With each passing fight, Golovkin looks more human and the gameplan to beating Golovkin seem to be coming closer and closer each time. The blueprint to beating GGG after each passing fight seems much more clear:
- A fighter that is bigger or matches him in size.
- A chin that withstands power punches.
- Boxes with speed, angles and swift movement.
- Possesses enough power of their own to demand his respect.
2. Boxing Is a Team Sport
It is often said that boxing is the loneliest sport the world. As the fight begins and your team retreats to their corners it is just one boxer versus another. On Saturday night, Daniel Jacobs may have been fighting one-on-one, but his glimmers of success were the result of a true team effort.
Jacobs, the Brooklyn native, typically sets up his camp at home in New York. However, for the biggest fight of his career, Jacobs treated it as such, and created a dynamic team to prepare him for the bout.
Jacobs stayed with his long time trainer, Andre Rozier, and the two created a super team to help Jacobs be the best possible version of himself come fight night.
Team Jacobs setup camp in Hayward, CA at Virgil Hunter’s gym; the home of boxing superstar, Andre Ward. They surrounded themselves with some of best fighters currently in the sport including Andre Berto, Andre Ward, Andrzej Fonfara and his fellow Brooklynite, Peter Qullian.
Not only was he surrounded by great fighters, but Jacobs committed himself to nourishing his body with a great food regime as well, hiring Chris Algeri to be his full time nutritionist during this camp.
Jacobs also committed himself to an enhanced level of athletic conditioning at Victor Conte’s SNAC facility in the neighboring San Carlos, CA. The SNAC facility provided Jacob’s with enhanced condition such as explosive speed workouts from a track coach, altitude simulation and hypoxic training aimed at improving performance by way of adaptation to reduced oxygen.
Conte and Jacobs’ team also formulated a game plan regarding Jacobs’ size and weight for the fight. The plan now revealed was for Jacobs to make the Middleweight limit of 160 pounds during the Friday weigh in and then to skip to IBF mandatory weigh in on fight day of a 10 pound rehydration limit.
This plan allowed Jacobs to come in as the larger fighter on fight night and strengthened his questionable chin.
The most important piece of Jacobs’ solid outing against GGG may have been from his coach, Andre Rozier. During the fight, Jacobs at times became over enthusiastic, and began to fall into a toe-to-toe battle with Golovkin.
Rozier was the voice of reason for Jacobs, often bringing him back to the place he needed to be, the place where true boxing works over brawling.
Rozier could be heard in the corner in-between rounds repeating the phrase, “We fight fire with finesse,” and giving clear and concise instructions to his fighter.
Normally we hear panic when a fighter is knocked down in the early rounds; however Rozier kept his cool and therefore Jacobs kept his cool as well.
The two made a beautiful pair and the entire Jacobs camp made him a more highly-prepared fighter, proving that elite level boxing is indeed a team sport.
3. Ryan Martin, We See You!
Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (18-0, 11 KOs) received his biggest exposure yet with an appearance on the HBO Pay-Per-View opener on Saturday against Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz (17-2, 8 KOs). Martin is signed with K2 Promotions, who handles the likes of Gennady Golovkin and Wladimir Klitschko.
You only get one chance to make a first impression and Martin used his HBO debut well. Knowing most fans will be seeing him fight for the first time, he capitalized on the opportunity.
The 135-pound fighter showed himself as a boxer with a great physique who can blaze with his punches in bunches and holds the athleticism to overwhelm his opponent. Referee Harvey Dock stepped in as Martin was teeing away on Cruz and waved it off at 45 seconds of Round 8.
Martin has the long, lean body with all the tools of a boxer puncher. Looking at him I was reminded of a younger Tevin Farmer or a Terence Crawford in the making.
Post-fight, Martin gave his performance a score of 8 out of 10 and said, “I’m ready for a top-10 fighter in the Lightweight division.”
Keep an eye out for Ryan Martin.
4. Gonzalez vs. Sor Ringvisai Is an Early ‘FOTY’ Contender
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world going into Saturday night, tasted defeat for the first time in his career from Srikaset Sor Rungvisai of Thailand by majority decision.
As fans watched an epic 12-round battle come to a decision, many were shocked as Chocolatito lost and gave up his WBC Super Flyweight title in a brutal and bloody head-to-head, toe-to-toe battle.
The judges’ decisions were questionable. Many rounds were close, which in that case, one would assume should favor the champion. However, the judges scored the bout 113-113, and 114-112 twice for Rungvisai.
One thing is certain, the fight has 2017 Fight of the Year written all over it.
The fight was an epic back-and-forth battle. Gonzalez went down in the first round from a right to the body by Rungvisai. In the second round, an accidental head butt by Rungvisai opened a bad cut over the right eye of Gonzalez, and it bled throughout the entire fight.
Then another head butt in the sixth round caused referee Steve Willis to take a point from Rungvisai.
The fight was extremely back and forth and the pace was high. It was all gas and no brakes, with nearly more than 2,000 combined punches thrown in the 12-round battle with Gonzalez landing 441 of 1,013 and Rungvisai 284 of 940.
5. HBO Boxing Is Killing It!
HBO Boxing in 2017 is freaking killing it, and it’s only March!!
2017 may have just started, but HBO alone has already given fans so much great boxing.
Just last week, fans saw an early front runner for Knockout of the Year when David Lemieux landed a left hook that sent Curtis Stevens to sleep on the canvas for several minutes.
This past Saturday, both Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs as well as the co-featured bout between Romaon Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai were extremely close bouts that have rematch written all over them.
HBO also has huge fights in the works as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will face Julio Chavez Jr. on May 6 on a Cinco De Mayo weekend, in a pure-Mexican showdown.
Also, the rumors of a Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward rematch are buzzing with talks of a possible fight in June.
HBO Boxing is on a roll!
Header photo by Tom Hogan/K2
God 1st. Staff Writer for Round By Round Boxing, social service work, fitness instructor & sports fan. Love, laughter, kind soul, reader & BELIEVER IG: @Sarah073