Gennady Golovkin will aim to unify the middleweight division this summer against England’s Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organisation champion, after retaining his three middleweight world title belts on points in the toughest battle of his unbeaten 37-fight career against Daniel Jacobs at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin-Saunders could take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, between June and September, but a decision will be made once Golovkin, 34, assesses the recuperation needed after a unanimous points victory over Jacobs.
Golovkin was pushed the distance by ‘The Miracle Man’, Jacobs, 30, who overcame a rare form of bone cancer and paralysis seven years ago, but came through 115-112, 115-112, 114-113, in a gruelling battle which was closer than the cards suggest, bringing to an end a 23-fight streak of knockout victories.
Post-fight Golovkin said that it was his “dream to unify the belts in my country”, adding that he was pursuing Saunders’ WBO crown to go with the IBF, WBC and WBA belts he defended against Jacobs.
“One hundred per cent I would like to face Saunders next, in my country,” said the Kazakh who has carved out a career in the United States.
Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, added that there were “a few options” but that discussions with promoter Frank Warren would go ahead in the coming weeks, with Astana, the Kazakh capital, sometime between June and September, the likely time and venue for the unification match.
The most lucrative payday would be against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, in the USA, but that fight has stalled several times.
Saunders, a southpaw, will have seen something significant in Jacobs’ successful use of switching to the southpaw stance against the champion.
“Golovkin is strong but he can be outfoxed,” said Saunders. “A boxer always beats a puncher and he has never faced anyone as awkward or tricky as me. I’ve seen faults and flaws in him that I know I can take advantage of.”
“I want to see how good I really am,” he added. “In my own head, I know I am capable of beating him. Jacobs isn’t in my class when I am on form.
“Golovkin wants the WBO belt and I am willing to put it on the line. I’ll travel anywhere to fight him, I’m not bothered about fighting him in Kazakhstan – I’ll fight him in a field for all I care.”
Trainer Adam Booth, with whom Saunders is now working, believes the Briton has the fighting IQ to defeat Golovkin. “He is frighteningly intelligent and one of the shrewdest young fellas that I’ve met - and competitive. It’s a massive challenge, but Billy Joe wants it.”