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Knockout artists: Golovkin, Jacobs vie for middleweight belt

(AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

By BARRY WILNER

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) Some believe Saturday night's middleweight unification bout will go the distance.

Not many, though. The odds of Gennady Golovkin and Danny Jacobs both standing after 12 rounds aren't good.

Golovkin has won 33 of his 36 fights by knockout, including the last 23, dating to 2008. Yep, nearly nine years. The Kazakh owns the WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight crowns.

WBA champ Jacobs has a string of his own going with 12 KOs since he was sidelined for 19 months while battling bone cancer. Counting his two fights before that, the streak is 14 since his only loss, to Dmitry Pirog in 2010.

It's the fight of the year - forget all that preposterous buzz about the retired Floyd Mayweather against UFC's Conor McGregor, a farce about as likely to happen as Jimmy Kimmel climbing into the ring with either of those guys.

Watch this one closely from the beginning; it could end quickly.

"He is one of the most dangerous for me," Golovkin says. "He is very good in the ring. He is a good boxer with good technique. His right hand is good, his left hand. Everything is good."

Good might not be, well, good enough. The 34-year-old Golovkin, known as GGG, is one of the sport's best and most powerful fighters. Jacobs, 30, might need to be great - something he's certain will happen at Madison Square Garden.

"He's the No. 1 guy," Jacobs says. "He has the belts and the impressive resume. I have a good respect where respect is due.

"I think I'm the better fighter. I think this is the time to prove it. I'm the faster guy. He's a very skillful fighter. My plan is to be the best me and use my best attributes."

One of those attributes would seem to be a home-crowd edge; Jacobs is a native of Brooklyn. But, like Golovkin, who calls the Garden his "second home," both fighters expect plenty of support for the HBO pay-per-view telecast.

Jacobs has won four Golden Gloves titles in the Garden and two pro bouts. In an odd twist, he is now a representative for Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

"I'm a New Yorker. I've made a lot of history in this building," Jacobs says. "And it's all coming in a circle, sort of."

GGG has a 4-0 record (all knockouts, of course) at MSG.

"This is the biggest chance for us to show our world boxing class," Golovkin says. "He's come back to home. I feel the same way. I promise we'll bring an amazing show."

That very much could depend on Jacobs' staying power. But Jacobs also believes Golovkin can be hurt and that, in GGG's last fight, Kell Brock had Golovkin "shaken up."

The problem for Jacobs is that when Golovkin gets tested, he tends to respond with more ferocity. There's little to no retreat in GGG's style.

Not that Jacobs is likely to turn and run. Indeed, he's seen fighters do that against Golovkin, noting it's an instant recipe for defeat.

"A guy steps in and is fidgety and he does not give his best performance," Jacobs explains, invoking the name of Mike Tyson and how his opponents often were beaten before the first bell. "I don't care about that. I have lived for this moment. I'm not going to be intimidated, that's the last thing I'm concerned about is being intimidated in the ring."

Golovkin and his handlers occasionally get asked about an anticipated bout with Canelo Alvarez later in the year. That would be a monstrous matchup, too, but first GGG has a pretty stern obstacle to clear in Jacobs.

The undercard Saturday night features more knockout artists.

Unbeaten Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez of Nicaragua, who has 38 KOs in 46 wins and owns the WBC super flyweight belt, faces mandatory challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (41-4-1, 38 KOs) of Thailand.

Carlos Cuadras, who once owned Gonzalez's crown, brings a 35-1-1 mark with 27 knockouts into the ring against Mexican countryman David Carmona (20-3-5) in a 10-rounder. And in another 10-rounder, rising lightweights Ryan Martin and Bryant Cruz go at it.

Updated March 17, 2017

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