By Keith Idec, photo by Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos
NEW YORK – The question was inevitable.
Following back-to-back performances that created some doubt about Gennady Golovkin’s invincibility, is Golovkin starting to show signs of slippage? The undefeated middleweight champion is, after all, just three weeks shy of his 35th birthday.
Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, thinks Golovkin’s outings against Kell Brook and Daniel Jacobs were more reflective of the level of competition, not Golovkin moving out of his prime.
“Yeah, this is the same guy,” Sanchez said Sunday morning, following Golovkin’s unanimous-decision defeat of Jacobs at Madison Square Garden. “He’s getting a lot better, but the opposition’s getting a lot better. Daniel was a champion, is a champion still in my mind. If we get the fight in Kazakhstan, and Gennady vacates once he wins against Saunders [on June 10], Daniel I’m sure is gonna be champ [and own] one of the belts. He’s probably better – other than Golovkin, he’s probably better than anybody else out there. He beats every other middleweight.”
When asked again if Golovkin’s skills have deteriorated since he first fought on American television in September 2012, Sanchez said, “No. I just think the opposition’s getting better.”
England’s Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) was faster than Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) and showed boxing ability that troubled Golovkin when they fought September 10 at O2 Arena in London. Brook also was a welterweight who moved up two weight classes to challenge Golovkin, but before he was stopped during the fifth round landed enough punches against the knockout artist from Kazakhstan to make him appear vulnerable.
Brooklyn’s Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) boxed well against Golovkin, often out of a southpaw stance, took Golovkin’s power well other than suffering a fourth-round knockdown and was very competitive against Golovkin on his way to ending the WBA/WBC/IBF/IBO middleweight champion’s knockout streak at 23 fights.
“He’s my best opponent,” Golovkin said. “He’s very smart. He has very good boxing technique. He’s moving, you know, don’t have panic, don’t lose control. It’s very good.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.