Boxing is filled with dramatic, fairy-tale stories but for Daniel Jacobs – his nickname says it all “The Miracle Man”, returning to the ring after lifesaving surgery to remove a tumour to go on and win a World Title.
A solid amateur, the 6 footer recorded 137 wins and just 7 losses with achievements such as the 2003 Junior Olympics National Champion and the following year crowned the US National Champion, not to mention winning four Golden Gloves Championships.
After switching to the paid ranks, Jacobs made his professional debut on the biggest of stages, the undercard of Floyd Mayweather v Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas back in December 2007. It took just half a minute for then named ‘The Golden Child’ to get the W and move to 1-0.
Victory over Jose Hurtado that night snowballed eight more wins on the spin, all inside the distance, within just ten months.
A unanimous decision victory over Ishe Smith for the WBO NABO Middleweight strap in Texas, August 2009, put Jacobs firmly in the limelight.
Fast forward nine months and the second round stoppage victory over Juan Astorga to capture the vacant NABF and to retain the previously won WBO NABO title earned a jump in the World rankings.
Sergio Martinez was stripped of his WBO World title outside of the ring freeing up two unbeaten fighters to contest the gold, Jacobs and Dmitry Pirog.
The bout took place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on 31 July 2012 as chief support to Juan Manuel Marquez v Juan Diaz and despite leading on all three judges’ scorecards, Pirog landed a big right hand to KO Jacobs in the fifth to pick up the vacant World Title.
For many, defeat would result in their world crashing down but for Jacobs, things were about to take a turn for the worst.
Under a year later, Jacobs was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, and would undergo lifesaving surgery to remove a tumour that had damaged his spinal nerves.
The young Middleweight was paralysed below the waist line.
Jacobs started to suffer with his legs behaving erratically but assumed it was just part and parcel of being out of training. Movement decreased and shortly after an MRI scan would reveal the full extent of the damage.
Speaking after the surgery, it became apparent how much of a close call it was.
“The doctor said that the tumour was growing so fast that if I had waited four more days, it would have grown so large it would have slowed my heart down. I was literally on my deathbed. I escaped death,” revealed an emotional Jacobs.
Against doctor’s wishes, the fighter now dubbed “The Miracle Man” was back in the gym quicker than advised sparring with the likes of Sadam Ali.
After almost 18 months out of the ring, Jacobs returned to action with an emphatic first round KO victory.
Since that win over Josh Luteran on 20 October 2012 things have gone from strength to strength, not just in Jacobs’ recovery but also in the ring.
Four more back to back early wins put Jacobs in the frame for a shot at the vacant WBA World Middleweight crown against Jarrod Fletcher.
It was to be Jacobs’ crowning moment as a professional and prove that with grit, determination and hard work – anything is possible.
Subsequent follow up TKO victories over Caleb Truax and Sergio Mora to retain his World Title have set up the Battle of Brooklyn.
Watch Daniel Jacobs defend his WBA World Middleweight Title against Peter Quillin this Saturday night live on BoxNation!