By Scott Christ
Daniel Jacobs returns to HBO to take on Luis Arias in this weekend’s main event.
Record: 32-2 (29 KO) … Streak: L1 … Last 5: 4-1 … Last 10: 9-1 … Stance: Orthodox … Height/Reach: 5’11½” / 73″ … Age: 30
Thoughts: Daniel Jacobs was once “The Golden Child,” and now he’s “The Miracle Man.” As “The Golden Child,” he was a celebrated Golden Boy prospect, mowing down the opposition until the 21st fight of his pro career.
On July 31, 2010, in Las Vegas, the 20-0 Jacobs was matched with Russian Dmitry Pirog. Jacobs was the favored fighter, a blue chipper with power and speed and skill, Pirog more of an unknown, but a dangerous opponent, a fellow unbeaten prospect.
Jacobs lost. He was viciously knocked out in the fifth round of what had been a pretty even and exciting fight, caught by a shot he never saw coming. He said after the fight that he felt like his legs weren’t quite there, but he didn’t make excuses, and I thought his chances of coming back from the loss were pretty good. I wasn’t down on him for losing. He got caught by a good fighter. When fighters take risks, sometimes they lose.
Jacobs bounced back with a couple of easy wins before being diagnosed with cancer in 2011. He came back to the ring in October 2012 as “The Miracle Man,” an earned nickname, after beating osteosarcoma. He went on a five-fight winning streak before winning the WBA “world” middleweight title with a victory over Jarrod Fletcher in August 2014, putting himself back in the mix for real at 160.
To even be in the ring anymore is amazing for Daniel Jacobs. To compete at a high level is even more astounding. In December 2015, he was matched with Peter Quillin, another highly regarded fighter, unbeaten coming in, and he stopped Quillin in just 85 seconds, retaining his title. That victory was sandwiched by wins over Sergio Mora.
Earlier this year, Jacobs took the final step to the very top of the sport. He faced Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden on HBO pay-per-view. Jacobs wound up narrowly losing, but he ended Golovkin’s long stoppage streak by going the distance, and plenty of people felt he’d done enough to win the fight. I was one of them, scoring the fight 115-112 for Jacobs. I didn’t feel he’d been robbed, but I felt he could easily have walked out of MSG the new recognized true middleweight champion of the world.
But I wasn’t altogether surprised by that outcome, either. For a while, I’d said that I felt Jacobs might be a bigger threat to Golovkin than Canelo Alvarez was, simply based on size and style. While Golovkin fought Canelo to a draw in September, that was a truly controversial result, with most scoring the fight for GGG. Many in and around the sport made a point to say that Jacobs did better in his loss to Golovkin than Canelo did in receiving a draw. Whether you agree or not is your prerogative, but it was said, a lot.
As it stands now, Jacobs is no worse than the No. 3 middleweight in the sport, and he’s signed a new deal with Matchroom Boxing and HBO to chase those top two guys. With Golovkin and Alvarez likely to rematch on Cinco De Mayo 2018, Jacobs could await the winner in the fall — if he keeps winning.
Record: 18-0 (9 KO) … Streak: W18 … Last 5: 5-0 … Last 10: 10-0 … Stance: Orthodox … Height/Reach: 5’11” / N/A … Age: 27
Thoughts: Luis Arias impressed in July of this year, when he beat Arif Magomedov on the Ward-Kovalev II pay-per-view undercard, stopping Magomedov in the fifth round of a fight he completely dominated, landing better, harder shots the whole way through, until the stoppage.
Arias is younger than Jacobs, about the same size, and is promising he’s going to bring the fight to his opponent, believing that Jacobs doesn’t really like to mix it up. Maybe he’s right, maybe not, but it’s certainly the right sort of attitude to have, even if he ultimately fights a bit more cautiously than he’s saying he will in the build-up.
The truth is, Arias is still something of an unknown. The win over Magomedov was good TV, but how good is Magomedov? His other more notable wins have come over the likes of Darryl Cunningham and Scott Sigmon, journeyman fighters who are signed up to lose to prospects like Arias.
The Cuban fighter, born and raised in Milwaukee, has talent, and he probably has a bit more power than his KO ratio would make you think at a glance. But he’s the major underdog in this fight, and the feeling is he’s been signed up as a sacrifice to a new network star, someone HBO hopes can keep winning and take part in bigger fights in 2018 and beyond.
Matchup Grade: C-. I certainly don’t hate this fight, but there’s not a lot to love about it, either. On paper, it looks like a pretty transparent matchup, meant to give Daniel Jacobs a win and keep him in the mix to face Golovkin or Canelo, either waiting on the winner of a rematch, or being subbed in to take on either man if that rematch doesn’t come. Maybe we’ll see a shocker, but it would, after all, be a shocker.
- Jarrell Miller vs Mariusz Wach: Miller (19-0-1, 17 KO) strikes me as another in a long line of American heavyweights with some hype who isn’t going to make it at the top levels. “Big Baby” is 29, 6’4”, and in his last two fights has checked in just shy of 300 pounds on the scales. He can punch and he’s plenty fun to watch at the level he’s been at, but is he a great prospect? No. Wach (33-2, 17 KO) is a hard-headed veteran with losses to Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin. He wasn’t remotely competitive with either of them, but he is coming off of a win over Erkan Teper. If Miller is a total pretender, Wach could be trouble. If he’s not, Miller should win, but that won’t mean he can compete with the real top fighters in the division, either. All that said, this isn’t a bad matchup for where Miller’s at, and clearly HBO figures he’s at least worth a glance. Grade: C
- Cletus Seldin vs Roberto Ortiz: Ortiz (35-1-2, 26 KO) was supposed to face Antonio Orozco on HBO in September, but Orozco missed weight by a mile and the fight was scrapped. So here he gets a make-up date, against New York local Seldin (20-0, 16 KO). If Seldin is any more prepared for the higher levels than Seanie Monaghan or Yuri Foreman were, you can consider me surprised when this is over. Grade: D
Source:: Bad Left Hook