In what is becoming a disturbing trend, a middleweight has opted to skip a mandated second-day weight check ahead of a major prize fight.
Seven days after David Lemieux claimed to have been unaware of a contractually agreed-upon second-day weigh-in for his eventual 3rd round knockout of Curtis Stevens, it was Daniel Jacobs who decided he had better ways to spend his morning than to check his hydration limit for Saturday's middleweight title consolidation clash with unbeaten, unified titlist Gennady Golovkin.
With the IBF title among the slew of belts at stake for the bout - which airs live on HBO Pay-Per-View from Madison Square Garden in New York, NY - both boxers are contractually bound to weigh-in the morning of the bout and must be no more than 10-pounds above the contracted limit. Golovkin tipped the scales at 169.6 lbs. just within the 170 lb. tolerable limit. Jacobs' absence means the best he can do with an upset win - other than gain recognition as the best middleweight in the world - is nab Golovkin's WBA Super and WBC titles.
As for Golovkin, the IBF will still honor tonight's title fight as a voluntary defense, despite the fact that it is no longer on the line for Jacobs.
“Golovkin is defending his IBF title," confirmed IBF Championships Chairman Lindsey Tucker. "[H]owever, Jacobs cannot acquire the title with a victory because he did not participate in the required IBF same-day weigh-in."
The purpose of the same-day weight-check is to ensure that boxers are not gaining excessive weight from the time of the day-before pre-fight weigh-in. Today's prizefighters have a sordid history of cutting weight and then ballooning upwards of 2-3 full divisions above their contracted limit by fight night.
As much took place a week ago, when Lemieux - who has a history of struggling to make the middleweight limit and even had to cancel a bout last year due to missing weight by a considerable amount - enjoyed a massive size advantage over Stevens in their HBO-televised main event. With an IBF regional title at stake, both were contractually bound to weigh-in the morning of the fight. Lemieux claimed to have been unaware of the stipulation, but as a former IBF titlist whose team pushed for this particular belt to be at stake, the alibi registered as little more than a poor excuse to come in as heavy as he desired for the contest.
Lemieux scored a violent 3rd round knockout that rendered Stevens unconscious and prompted a visit to a nearby emergency room for immediate observation. The Brooklyn-bred middleweight came back OK, but sadly paid the price for actually following the rules.
Golovkin is a considerable favorite to win Saturday's bout, so the theory here is that Jacobs - who barely came within the tolerable limit for the WBC 30-day and 7-day pre-fight safety weight checks - is looking for any edge possible to level the playing field. Despite hailing from nearby Brooklyn, Jacobs has learned throughout fight week that being closer to home doesn't necessarily mean he enjoys hometown advantage. The pre-fight crowds have been heavily pro-Golovkin, as Jacobs - sadly like many in the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) circuit - has never really developed into even a boxing star or a draw in his own region.
As for the weigh-in timeline, Jacobs was 174.8 lbs at the WBC 30-day weight check, at which point boxers cannot weigh more than 10% above the contracted limit - in this case a maximum of 176 lbs. He weighed 167.8 lbs. at the 7-day mark, barely inside the tolerable 168 lb. limit or 5% above the contracted limit. Golovkin weighed 165.1 lbs. 30 days out and 162 lbs. one week ago. He was already on weight as early as Wednesday, as has always been the case throughout his lengthy title reign.
The unbeaten 2004 Olympic Silver medalist for Kazakhstan is also creeping up on history. Saturday's bout marks an attempt at an 18th defense of at least one major title, as he's held the WBA strap since 2010. He added the IBF title with an 8th round knockout of Lemieux in Oct. '15, one year after claiming the WBC "interim" belt with a two-round destruction of Marco Antonio Rubio in Oct. '14.
An upgrade to WBC full titlist came last fall after Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez decided he wasn't yet ready to test the full middleweight limit, instead opting to drop down one pound from his preferred 155 lb. Caneloweight to reclaim a super welterweight belt in a nine-round drubbing of Liam Smith.
Jacobs attempts a 5th defense of his WBA secondary title that he earned in a 5th round knockout of Jarrod Fletcher in Aug. '14. The win made him the first-ever cancer survivor to claim a major title in the pro ranks, having overcome a near deathly battle with osteosarcoma. His signature win came in Dec. '15, scoring a one-round knockout of Peter Quillin, a win he sat on for nine months before returning with a 7th round stoppage of Sergio Mora in their largely unnecessary rematch last September.
That bout came one day prior to Golovkin briefly struggling with welterweight Kell Brook before stopping the previously unbeaten Brit in five rounds in his UK debut.
With a win on Saturday, Golovkin will move within two defenses of tying the all-time middleweight mark set by Bernard Hopkins, who registered 20 defenses over the course of his 10-year title reign from 1995-2005. Heavy rumors have circulated of a June clash with WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders in Kazakhstan already in place assuming he escapes Saturday's contest unscathed. Should he prevail in that bout, a potential record-tying 20th defense could come against Alvarez, which - in addition to being the biggest fight that can be made in boxing today - would carry the fitting touch of the red-headed Mexican superstar serving as the face of Golden Boy Promotions, a company in which Hopkins is among the chief stakeholders.
Long before any of that happens, Golovkin sill has to get through Saturday night. Whatever takes place, he can at least say he properly followed the rules to get to this point. David Lemieux and now Daniel Jacobs can no longer make the same claim.