By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Let’s get a few things out of the way.
I scored Saturday night’s fight 114-113 in favor of Danny Jacobs, but in no way do I believe – contrary to many of the social media troll persuasion – that the word “robbery” in any way applies to the goings-on at the world’s most famous midtown Manhattan arena.
It was a close fight with a lot of close rounds. Shade a few of them in the opposite direction and you have yourself a different, albeit just as fair, result.
Personally, I gave Jacobs rounds 1, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11 and 12, but would have no problem swapping out the first, seventh or 12th. On the flip side, I gave Gennady Golovkin rounds 2, 4, 5, 8 and 9, but could just as easily have moved the fifth from the Kazakh’s column onto the Brooklyn side.
Incidentally, those jumps alone make it 115-112 for the winner and still champion.
And if you had Jacobs winning so many rounds that even switching a handful doesn’t change the verdict, maybe it’s you – and not the silly establishment-rules conspiracy theories – that’s to blame.
But I digress.
In fact, I come here not to hail Triple-G, but to bury him.
Because as impressed as I’ve been by the knockout run, the body shots and the now 15 defenses of his IBO middleweight title, I’m beginning to suffer from a slight case of “Big Drama Show” fatigue.
Particularly because of what have been announced as his imminent future plans.
Rather than quickly moving to legitimize the most debated result of his 11-year pro career, the most feared man on premium cable is instead parroting the same tired script that’ll line his pockets and cram his trophy case while doing precisely zero to further his pound-for-pound cause.
In other words, forget the worthwhile rematch and continue the breathless pursuit of one fighter whom exactly no one cares about (Billy Joe Saunders), and the plaintive pleas for the attention of another (Canelo Alvarez) who’s shown exactly no indication of interest in getting his face punched in.
“Saunders is my dream fight for unifying all the middleweight titles. It is my ambition to take from him the only belt I am missing,” Golovkin said after Saturday’s win.
“So yes, I definitely want to fight him before the big drama against Canelo Alvarez.”
Saunders, by the way, has defeated one middleweight who was ranked better than No. 18 – a controversy-sopped decision over Andy Lee in late 2015 – while Alvarez won his “160-pound” title while far closer to the 154-pound limit and instantly abandoned the strap when a defeat of 155-pound Amir Khan prompted the WBC to label Golovkin as his mandatory next challenger.
Nevertheless, this is still the supposed master plan that’s putting all else on hold?
In reality, the only crime linked to Saturday is if Golovkin indeed fights Saunders for a meaningless trinket rather than giving Jacobs another fight. Indignant fans and media clods rail all the time about how insignificant the sanctioning bodies are, but they still want to see him collect all the belts.
Sorry folks, but you can’t have it both ways.
It was a close fight and it deserves a second go, certainly more so than a paper title chase.
You want to save boxing and bring it back to some semblance of public consciousness, have your champions -- like Triple-G, in this case -- stop this "I need all the belts" nonsense. It's an easy path to easy fights, rather than forcing him to pursue greatness with another Jacobs fight, or by moving up.
He's defended the IBO title 15 times, but engaging in a silly Canelo dance and dreaming about unproven targets like Saunders cheapens the accomplishment. Either give Jacobs an immediate return or go do the things that another long-term middleweight kingpin, Bernard Hopkins, did after he cleared out his weight class – pursue bigger names on bigger stages.
If you spend your career with the Dominic Wades and Billy Joe Saunders of the world, you risk compromising stardom for comfort. And when it comes to a guy who can make any big fight he wants simply by signing his name, it'd be nice if Golovkin wanted something more than a shelf full of jewelry.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBA super middleweight title -- Potsdam, Germany
Tyron Zeuge (champion/No. 8 IWBR) vs. Isaac Ekpo (No. 3 WBA/No. 75 IWBR)
Zeuge (19-0-1, 11 KO): First title defense; First fight scheduled for 12 rounds (3-0-1, 2 KO)
Ekpo (31-2, 24 KO): Second title fight; Lost challenge for WBO title in 2013 (L UD 12)
Fitzbitz says: The challenger is older and has a cool nickname, but that’s about it. He’s never beaten a top 100 foe in spite of a No. 3 world ranking. Yeah, folks, the IBO is the problem. Zeuge in 9
WBA lightweight title -- Manchester, United Kingdom
Jorge Linares (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Anthony Crolla (No. 4 WBA/No. 7 IWBR)
Linares (41-3, 27 KO): First title defense; Previously held titles at 126 (WBC), 130 (WBA) and 135 (WBC)
Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KO): Fifth title fight (2-1-1); Held WBA title at 135 before losing to Linares in 2016
Fitzbitz says: You’ve got to admire the way Linares has continued in spite of the kinds of KO losses (three of them) that have stopped others for good. He should win another fun one here. Linares in 10
Last week's picks: 1-1 (WIN: Golovkin; LOSS: Gonzalez)
2017 picks record: 17-7 (70.8 percent)
Overall picks record: 839-281 (74.9 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.