Daniel Jacobs will need to bring his formidable power to bear against undisputed middleweight champion Gennday Golovkin at Madison Square Garden
The people who resist the coronation of Gennady Golovkin as the king of boxing range from informed experts, curmudgeons and professional cynics through to those few who are in a position to test the proposition for themselves. Daniel Jacobs is a proud member of the latter category.
On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, a suitably grand and historic setting for what promises to be the most strenuous examination of Golovkins credentials, Jacobs will have the advantage of home support, atomic power in both hands and a back story that will no doubt tempt otherwise measured opinion-makers to lean dewy-eyed in his favour.
His has been a journey of extraordinary heroism, much of it outside the ring. In the course of compiling 29 stoppages in 32 contests, Jacobs has been interrupted in his reach for the crown by a rare bone cancer that conventional medical evidence decreed was not only career-ending but life-threatening. It is to his immense credit that he defied their prognosis; whether he can upset the odds against Golovkin is an altogether different test of his resolve, skill and self-belief.
If Jacobs falls short gloriously, his legend will be enhanced; if he is beaten badly, which is probable rather than possible if Golovkin rises to the occasion, he will have at least shared an experience that some of the middleweight divisions best before him, including the Irishman Matthew Macklin, who was heading for a ringside seat after overseeing the St Patricks Day debut of his new signing, Michael Conlan, in the adjacent smaller arena.
Macklin, one of the games toughest customers, says he has never been hit harder than by the body shot with which the Kazakh levelled him for the count when they fought in Connecticut nearly four years ago.
Since then, Macklin has had to manage a hard exit from the business, while Golovkin, who is 35 next month, has gone on to wreck the ambitions of several worthy contenders. His victims include Curtis Stevens (brutally knocked unconscious by David Lemieux the other night), Lemieux himself, who took a beating for eight rounds, Briton Martin Murray, who lasted into the 11th, the Australian Daniel Geale, stopped in three, Willie Monroe Jr (six), unbeaten Dominic Wade (two) and then Kell Brook, who showed admirable heart but not enough firepower when he stepped up from welterweight to reach the fifth against Golovkin last September in London.
All are good fighters but none in Golovkins class. Nor, if the doubters are honest, is Jacobs. But he brings the one component that excites dreaming: power.
He is a very good fighter and maybe has a little bit more power than me, the ever-smiling Golovkin said, going on to explain the science of his own considerable menace in the punch.
I feel I have power [Golovkin has won 33 of 36 bouts inside schedule, 26 of them by halfway] and it is very important to me and I can feel the power in my punches. I get that from hard work and practice. Sometimes though it is not just power. It has a lot to do with timing and distance. It is not all in the punch.
This is my first fight of the year. He is a tough guy and a great fighter and I am very excited for this fight and this year. He is one of the most dangerous [opponents] for me. He is a good boxer with good technique. I respect him too, he is a very good man.
Being a good man might have helped Jacobs sell this fight but the test fight fans want for Golovkin is against Saul Canelo lvarez, who is otherwise engaged preparing to meet Julio Csar Chvez and whose connections have wriggled artfully out of a showdown with the WBC, WBA and IBF champion.
Golovkins trainer, Abel Sanchez, says, I think Jacobs is a bigger threat than Canelo. He has got one-punch power. There is the chance he will knock you out he is a big dude. Canelo is more of a combination puncher but they are both very good fighters. Both Canelo and Jacobs have fights coming up and Canelo has the bigger guy on 6 May. We will be able to tell then who is the bigger and stronger guy.
At the weigh-in in New York, Golovkin and Jacobs were each inside an ounce less than the 160lb limit. As long as it lasts, there should be few backward steps from either but the champion has the pedigree to finish it some time between the sixth and 10th.