Gennady Golovkin won by unanimous decision against Daniel Jacobs, but the Kazakh had to go the distance for the first time since 2008.
Jacobs gave all he could against the knockout king, as he forced the middleweight to go the whole 12 rounds.
Both boxers gave their all and it was an exciting bout at the Madison Square Garden, in front of 19, 000 fans.
Golovkin said: “I couldn’t destroy him. He is a very clean, very good fighter. It is my first test for 12 rounds. This is sport. I am a boxer, I am not a killer. I respect his game.”
Judges Don Trella and Steve Weisfeld scored the fight 115-112 and Max DeLuca scored it 114-113 for Golovkin, who retained his WBC and WBO belts.
Jacobs couldn’t fight for the IBF belt because he declined to attend the weigh-in so he could hold on to 10 extra pounds, which proved to make the difference when combined with his reach.
GGG is now 37-0 with 33 knockouts and cancer survivor, Jacobs is now 32-2 with 29 knockouts. The Kazakh dropped Jacobs only once in the fourth round of the bout.
“At times I stood toe-to-toe with him to see what the power was like, what everybody was talking about, and it wasn’t that bad,” Jacobs said.