By Edward Chaykovsky
At one time Bernard Hopkins was the undisputed king of the middleweight division.
He was practically unbeatable with the IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO world titles around his waist and set a record with 20 consecutive world title defenses at 160-pounds.
But his middleweight legacy is in danger of being upstaged, as Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) is quickly approaching the mark of Hopkins' historic run.
Golovkin has 17 consecutive world title defenses and makes his 18th this coming weekend when he faces mandatory challenger Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) at New York's Madison Square Garden. And Golovkin has knocked out 23 opponents in a row.
Golovkin holds the WBC, IBO, IBF, WBA world titles and lacks the WBO belt around his waist.
But Hopkins expects the GGG train to end this Saturday, because he believes Jacobs is going to rise to the occasion to knock Golovkin off.
Hopkins does have a horse in the race, because he's a top executive with Golden Boy Promotions - who guide the career of Golovkin's most desired target, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. If Golovkin loses, any possibility of facing Canelo would go out the window.
“I see one of the biggest upsets ever coming,” said Hopkins to veteran scribe Bernard Fernandez. “I see Danny Jacobs winning a hard-fought decision, but it won’t be a fight so hard to score that the outcome will be debated, like we had with Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward. I just think Danny is prepared to do something great.”
“On paper, `GGG’ has to be the favorite. He’s got all those knockouts in a row and very few of those times has he been challenged a little bit, much less seriously challenged. He’s been steamrolling guys. There are some people who have been suggesting that he’s shown some vulnerability in his last two fights (against Dominic Wade and Kell Brook) because he’s been hit with punches he normally doesn’t get hit with, but he’s enough of a veteran to know what kind of power a guy packs, or doesn’t pack, right from the jump. If you don’t get his respect early, he’ll go right to you and eventually through you."
If Golovkin overcomes Jacobs and eventually breaks the defend record of 20, Hopkins will not be bitter but admits he never thought anyone would be close to breaking his accomplishment this soon. More impressive is that Golovkin may break the record with all knockout victories.
"I thought I’d be around 70 before somebody got close to my record, based on the trend of fighters going for titles in different weight classes rather than to stay in one class that long. I really thought my record would last a long, long time, and maybe it will," Hopkins said.
“It ain’t broken yet, but it ain’t too far off. Would I be joyful if it was broken? Hell, no. Would I accept it? Of course. I would have no choice but to accept it. Records are meant to be broken. But, you know, that don’t mean I’d have to like it if mine is broken.”