Golovkin-Jacobs showed boxing’s true potential, but will power brokers build off it or keep holding the sport back? – Yahoo Sports

NEW YORK – This was a fight night, the kind that decades ago made boxing one of the most popular sports in the country.

It was four guys over two fights spending the better part of 12 rounds standing a foot or two apart and trying to knock each other’s head off.

Gennady Golovkin saw his 23-fight knockout streak end, but he survived to win a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs and retain the WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight titles before 19,939 fans at Madison Square Garden.

Jacobs left the ring a former champion, but with his reputation enhanced as a result of the tenacious, gritty effort he gave. This is a guy who stared down cancer and won. Saturday, he stared down one of the sport’s biggest fighters.

“He wasn’t this big, boogeyman knockout artist everyone was saying he was,” Jacobs said.

But Golovkin entered the fight 36-0 and was considered one of the two best fighters in the world. And he knocked Jacobs down in the fourth and eagerly traded blows with him in a battle that left the fans standing and cheering throughout.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who entered the night 46-0, set the stage for the two great middleweights with a rousing battle with Sor Srisaket Rungvisai in a bout for the WBC super flyweight belt.

Runvisai won the title by majority decision in an amazing fight in which both of them gave everything they had in the ring.

Boxing won on this night. It was the fourth week in a row of excellent matches, several of which drew massive TV ratings.

This show, though, pitted four of the best fighters in the world who fought with a passion and fury that makes the sport so enthralling at its best.

“The fans ultimately were the winners,” Jacobs said.

Now, for them to truly win, the right fights will continue to need to be made. The fight the fans most want to see is one between Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, one that has been discussed since 2015.

It hasn’t happened largely because of Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who has tried to milk it and get a series of interim fights.

It’s not given to happen now, not even after Golovkin’s gut-check win over Jacobs. Golovkin built an early lead and then had to withstand a furious rally from Jacobs.

“Danny was more resilient than I thought he’d be,” Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez said.

The stakes were high, with supremacy in the middleweight division and a potential mega-dollar fight with Alvarez down the road.

Jacobs, whose chin had been questioned, largely because of a 2010 knockout that occurred a week after his grandmother died, stepped up his game and gave as good as he got.

He stayed in the pocket and several times was roaring at Golovkin.

“This fight was very good,” Golovkin said. “He’s very good, very smart [and] he’s a very quality fighter.”

“He’s clearly the second-best middleweight in the world,” Sanchez added.

Golovkin held his title by doing what he always does, coming forward, firing hard punches and looking to put on a show.

Though he had a glittering record and wide appeal, there were those who doubted him, and he answered all of his critics. Facing the toughest man and hardest puncher he’s met, he stood in the pocket and rarely took a backward step.

It was one of those nights where the fans filed out with smiles on their faces, no matter who they were rooting for. The stakes were high, the fights were great and the future for all four boxers is bright.

Boxing, though, is a sport that will break your heart. These days, the low moments come largely because of what happens outside of the ring, not inside of it.

Week after week, fighters are putting on enthralling shows and giving their fans something to cheer about.

It’s a great step forward.

Now, if the promoters, the managers and the television executives could just do the same thing, the sport will be in a much different place.

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