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Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs showdown set for March 18 at MSG

LOS ANGELES -- After months of negotiations and the threat of a purse bid looming Monday, representatives for unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin and secondary titlist (and mandatory challenger) Daniel Jacobs said Saturday they have made a deal for the fight that will match the top two 160-pounders in the world.

The bout is slated for March 18 at Madison Square Garden in New York, and will be televised on HBO PPV, Golovkin said.

Later Saturday, Golovkin met with reporters for lunch to discuss the fight.

"It's big news for me. I am very excited," he said. "I think it's a very big fight and great fight for you guys to watch. Danny is an amazing fighter. He is a tough opponent and No. 2 in the middleweight division. He is my toughest opponent. Hopefully, I fight three times next year. There are big plans for 2017 (but) right now I am focused on Jacobs and I am here to fight."

Although the fight most boxing fans want to see is Golovkin against Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez -- a bout in the works for September -- both need to win intervening fights, and a Golovkin-Jacobs match is a significant one.

"I'm excited about facing GGG and proving I'm the best middleweight in the world," Jacobs said in a statement to ESPN. "On March 18 I'm bringing all the belts back to Brooklyn with me."

K2 Promoter Tom Loeffler, who represents GGG, and Al Haymon, adviser to Jacobs, have been working on making this fight since September, when both fighters scored knockout wins one day apart. In his fourth defense, Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) knocked out Sergio Mora in the seventh round of their rematch Sept. 9. Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) stopped Kell Brook in the fifth round Sept. 10, to retain his title for the 17th time as he scored his 23rd knockout in a row.

But talks moved very slowly and it looked as though the fight might go to a purse bid. Had that happened, Golovkin, a Kazakhstan native based in Santa Monica, California, would have been entitled to 75 percent of the winning bid and Jacobs would have received the remaining 25 percent.

Although terms of the March fight were not disclosed, Jacobs certainly will get a much bigger slice of the pie than 25 percent by making a deal, but the fight will stay with HBO, which has Golovkin under exclusive contract.

The 34-year-old Golovkin also has deep ties to Madison Square Garden as opposed to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Jacobs, 29, is the face of the boxing franchise for the arena in his borough.

Golovkin-Jacobs took so long to negotiate that in mid-October the sides gave up a proposed Dec. 10 date for the fight and agreed to try to make the deal for early 2017.