There’s been a defeated look in the eyes and body language among several men who’ve fallen during Gennady Golovkin’s run of 23 consecutive knockouts.
That’s what made Wednesday’s introductory news conference between three-belt middleweight champion Golovkin (36-0, 33 knockouts) and Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs such a refreshing contrast.
Jacobs, emboldened as a cancer survivor who in 2011 endured surgery to remove a massive spine tumor, said gaining victory in his March 18 HBO pay-per-view showdown at New York’s Madison Square Garden against fellow World Boxing Assn. champion Golovkin feels like “destiny.”
“This is the pinnacle of the story,” Jacobs, 29, told reporters at L.A. Live’s Conga Room. “I believe deep down in my heart that the creator wouldn’t allow me to come this far and not allow me to be victorious.
“I believe I have everything to win this fight. It’s the perfect story, the perfect opportunity and I’m looking forward to making it happen because I realize my life means a lot more to people than what I think about being an inspiration and going through what I’ve gone through. It’s amazing.”
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin, 34, who resides in Los Angeles and trains in Big Bear, has defined himself as a merciless tactical slugger in the ring who last year knocked out mandatory challenger Dominic Wade in the second round and stopped welterweight champion Kell Brook with a broken orbital bone in the sixth.
Jacobs, however, is riding his own 12-fight knockout streak which counts a first-round stoppage of Peter Quillin and a late 2016 TKO of East Los Angeles’ Sergio Mora.
“[Brook] didn’t have the reach or power … and I didn’t know [Golovkin would] show some holes in his defense. Some of those flaws we’ve seen throughout the years,” Jacobs said. “Climbing the ladder, I first heard of this guy, this “killer” coming from Russia … he was always on my radar.
“[Golovkin’s] extremely powerful – you can’t disregard that –but the flaws we’ve seen to capitalize upon have been the same over the years. You have to gain [his] respect. I’m athletic. I have the size, the reach, a lot of physical advantages, so it’s just about using the best of my attributes as much as possible and minimize his.”
Jacobs said he spent his two years sidelined by the cancer fight to address his own weaknesses, learning to “stand my ground” better and flex his power.
“This is my first opportunity really to show the world my skills,” he said.
Although doctors told a swollen Jacobs to give up boxing, his trainer, Andre Rozier, recalls seeing him on his first return trip to the hospital, in a wheelchair, wearing a neck brace and a beaming smile.
“To understand the pitfalls and complications of battling cancer, it’s a 50-50 war – sometimes not even that fair – but Danny – not for one moment – was on the pessimistic side,” Rozier said.
“He said, ‘I’m feeling good, we’re going to the gym.’ I saw him in the gym with this [neck] brace on – he looked like Frankenstein’s monster, just needed the bolts in his neck, and he moved like he was 8,000 years old. He did some shadow boxing and said, ‘OK, I’m ready to get on the bag.’ Lo and behold [months later], he won the WBA championship, and from that moment, I knew he’d never be stopped.”
While the boxing world craves a Golovkin date against Canelo Alvarez in September that Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler said Wednesday he believes will happen, Jacobs is poised to complicate matters as he meets Golovkin with no rematch clause in place.
“I know it takes a real strong mental state to be able to go in and defeat Gennady Golovkin, and the fact I have those physical advantages, and I’m a boxer-puncher, I have a really good chance and I’m excited about it,” he said.