Tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, nuclear hitting New Yorker Daniel Jacobs gets to test his weapons of mass destruction on formidable Kazakh kayo king Gennady Golovkin for a multitude of world middleweight belts.
The odd setters may list ‘The Miracle Man’ as a prohibitive 6-1 underdog but Glynn Evans identifies 10 reasons why it won’t exactly be turning water into wine if he manages to execute an upset.
1: Already Beaten a Stiffer Opponent
Golovkin may have iced 33 of his 36 victims but he is far from the most lethal foe that Jacobs has faced. In May 2011, the Brooklynite’s spine became riddled with osteosarcoma, a life-threatening bone cancer that left him partially paralysed and unable to walk for six weeks.
Doctors informed Danny he would never fight again and might not live but, after multiple surgeries and radiation treatments, he miraculously returned to the ring after 19 months and, in August 2014, made history as the first cancer survivor to win a boxing world title, when he wiped out Australia’s Jarrod Fletcher in five rounds at the Barclays Center. ‘I’ve already cheated death. What trouble can Golovkin cause me?’ has become his mantra.
2: One Momentary Lapse.....
Jacobs has been boxing competitively for 15 years yet appears to have been written off as an elite level fighter by far too many, based on one aberration in July 2010.
A stellar amateur who stopped 17 of his opening 20 pro foes, the then ‘Golden Child’ was a big fancy to marmalise Russian ‘Grandmaster’ Dmitry Pirog when they collided for the vacant WBO belt in Las Vegas. Wretchedly, the biggest test of Jacobs’ fighting life occurred between the death and funeral of his grandma Cordelia who had raised him after his parents split when he was two.
Pre-fight, Jacobs wept uncontrollably in his changing room and, though ahead on all cards after four rounds, he carelessly charged into a monster right hand in round five and was duly flattened. He was actually starting to stir when referee Robert Byrd called it off with the count at five.
But that was seven years ago and he has since rebounded with 12 successive stoppage wins – five in world title fights. Save for a flash knockdown in the opening session of his first fight with Sergio Mora, there has been little evidence of frailty before or since.
3: Pedigree Pup
Jacobs’ star quality has been apparent since he commenced a brilliant 137-7 amateur career, aged 15. Thirteen national US amateur titles across various age ranges place him right up there alongside the likes of Howard Davis and Mark Breland in the pantheon for NYC’s greatest ever amateurs.
Advised from the onset by the hugely influential Al Haymon and initially promoted by Golden Boy, ‘The Golden Child’ debuted on the Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton undercard at the MGM Grand in December 2007 and 12 sizzling stoppages in his first 13 wins in his debut year saw him honoured as the sport’s Prospect of the Year by both ESPN and Sports Illustrated.
4: Fight Fire With Fire
Golovkin’s 33 stoppages from 36 starts accords him the highest kayo percentage (92%) in the history of the middleweight division but, with 29 early nights from 32 wins, Jacobs is only a whisker behind (almost 91%).
He’s super sharp out of the traps. Nineteen of DJ’s blowouts were executed in the opening two rounds – compared to just 12 for ‘GGG’ – and six victims succumbed to the full ten toll. Make no mistake, Jacobs hurts and he is blessed with the speed, skill and savvy to ensure his scuds connect.
Brits Martin Murray and Kell Brook, plus Willie Munroe Jr before them, found Golovkin’s face with impunity but none carried the artillery that Jacobs can boast.
5: Fresh Guy
Thirty-year-old Jacobs is almost five years junior and enters the fray with significantly less mileage. The New Yorker had roughly 40% of the 350 amateur bouts attributed to the Kazakh, turned pro 19 months later, has entered a pro ring three times fewer and his CV shows 51 less rounds (109 to 160).
Additionally, Jacobs has put his body through the trauma of preparing for 12-round championship fights on just half a dozen occasions, compared to ‘Triple G’s’ 19.
6: Size Matters
While both are career middleweights, Golovkin’s lack of natural size is commonly cited as the biggest stumbling block to him stepping up to accept challenges from the likes of Carl Froch and Andre Ward.
Conversely, Jacobs is at the very top end of the 160lb weight class. He is at least two inches taller, has a three inch edge in reach and carries the nous to fully capitalise on his blessings. He has a great jab and exacts tremendous leverage into his pet punch, a long, raking right cross.
7: Location, Location, Location
The shootout takes place in the sport’s mythical Mecca in uptown Manhattan and Brooklyn-born Jacobs is Big Apple to the core.
Born and bred in the notorious Brownsville tenements that previously spawned Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Zab Judah, Jacobs was a graduate of the Erasmus High School that was attended by Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Mickey Spillane, Bobby Fischer and Bob Arum. He was all but raised at the Starrett City Gym by the late Victor Rountree and won four prestigious NY Golden Gloves titles.
His courageous comeback from cancer has made him a darling of the notoriously hard-nosed New York fight crowd and, in his eight previous paid outings in the Big Apple, dynamite Danny has won every time by stoppage inside five rounds, including three world title gigs.
8: Equal Competition
While Golovkin has engaged in 17 world title fights against just six for Jacobs, the disparity in their level of opposition is not enormous. In truth, this is largely because too many of the so called leading lights around 160lbs have shamelessly swerved the Kazakh culling machine for fear of being flattened.
As a consequence, many of ‘GGG’s title defences have been little more than exhibitions of ritual slaughter. Regardless, both principals have won four fights against former or current world champions.
9: Moral Fibre
Jacobs is handsome, charming, intelligent and articulate in equal measure; a thoroughly well adjusted young man. But behind the Colgate smile is real steel and integrity. Those unforgiving Brownsville streets fashioned an ingrained hardness that enabled him to overcome life threatening illness, bereavement and a harrowing knockout loss.
He exudes solid family values, sharing his life with his childhood sweetheart Natalie and eight year old son Nathaniel. Raised by Jehovah’s, he remains deeply spiritual and enters battle with the strength that God is in his corner.
The history of boxing is littered with stories that magnify the incredible strength of the human spirit and you just get the sense that Jacobs’ miraculous tale might yet have a few chapters still to run. And besides, after 36 consecutive ‘good nights’ over the past 11 years, ‘Triple G’ is long overdue a bad one!
Watch Jacobs challenge for Golovkin’s WBA Super, WBC and IBF middleweight belts – plus Pound-for- Pound leader Roman Gonzalez – live on BoxNation, the Channel of Champions, from 1am this Saturday night.