Daniel Jacobs: The True Definition of a Fighter
He might not be the most glamorous fighter in the world, but Daniel Jacobs' story will inspire anyone to get off the canvas.
Round 1: Brooklyn born and raised
Brownsville, Brooklyn is known for producing many famous world champion boxers, including Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Shannon Briggs. It is also known as being a dangerous neighbourhood, with the highest crime rate in all of Brooklyn, refusing the trend of gentrification that has revitalised New York City’s most populated borough.
Those three former heavyweight champions all had rough reputations in and out of the ring, and although their boxing achievements cannot be questioned, their bravery and ability to inspire pales in comparison to fellow Brownsville fighter Daniel Jacobs.
Round 2: The early days
Born in 1987, Jacobs had many local role models to look up to on his way to a successful career in the squared circle, and recorded an impressive 137-win and 7-loss record as an amateur.
In December 2007, at just 20 years old, he made his professional debut on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather vs Ricky Hatton super fight, and took just 29 seconds to record a TKO win. This was the start of a great run for the Brooklyn native, and he remained undefeated until July 2010, where he was stopped by Russian Dimitry Pirog, despite being a strong favourite to win the fight.
While this shock loss was a massive setback in the fickle world of boxing, Jacobs bounced back with one-sided victories in his next two fights, and was on the road to redemption. But his next fight would be the biggest of his life.
That fight would be much more important, and much tougher than boxing. It was cancer.
Round 3: The biggest fight of Daniel Jacobs’ life
In early 2011, the talented middleweight fighter began to experience numbness in his legs, and was occasionally struggling to walk. Concerned that this could escalate and have a detrimental impact on his boxing ability, Jacobs sought medical advice. He was dealt devastating news.
Doctors informed the proud Brooklynite that the cause of his numbness was a rare type of bone cancer - osteosarcoma. A tumor had wrapped around his spine and was beginning to paralyse Jacobs from the waist down, consigning him to a wheelchair. At just 24 years old, his life had rapidly changed from being an exciting middleweight prospect to entering a fight for survival.
Requiring immediate surgery to remove the tumor, he was advised by doctors that there was a significant chance he wouldn’t survive the procedure. And if he did survive, he may not be able to walk again.
While this news would be enough to shatter anyone’s dreams, Daniel Jacobs used this sobering message as motivation, and declared right then that not only would he survive the surgery, not only would he walk again, he would also make a triumphant return to boxing and fulfil his dream of becoming middleweight champion of the world.
To the surprise of everyone except Jacobs, the surgery was a success and after a 25 rounds of radiation, he began walking, jogging and training again. The comeback was on.
Round 4: The Comeback
Despite medical experts advising Jacobs to never fight again, he was preparing for his long awaited return to the ring in October 2012, less than 18 months after surgery, in front of an adoring hometown crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
While most fighters like to slowly ease their way back into the sport after a long layoff, Jacobs did not waste any time. Taking just 73 seconds to finish off opponent Josh Lutheran, he made a strong statement and underlined his world title ambitions once again.
After staying busy and notching up easy wins in his next four fights, his world championship moment had arrived. Daniel Jacobs had the chance to become WBA Middleweight Champion of the world, fighting against Australian Jarrod Fletcher for the vacant title.
With the backing of a boisterous Brooklyn crowd behind him, and a new nickname “The Miracle Man”, Jacobs realised his dream with just seconds remaining in the fifth round, brutally sending the Aussie to the canvas.
When he was officially announced as “the new, WBA Middleweight Champion of the World”, the accomplishment really sunk in. Not only did he fulfil his lifelong boxing ambition to win a world title, he also defied the odds, medical advice and adversity to knock out cancer and achieve his dream.
Despite his brutal loss, Fletcher had nothing but pure admiration for everything that his opponent had been through, declaring “If anyone can show you that you’re never beaten it’s Daniel Jacobs”.
Round 5: The Battle of Brooklyn
Just over a year after winning the world championship, and two successful title defences, the Brownsville slugger was pitted against fellow Brooklyn fighter Peter Quillin, in what was promoted as ‘The Battle of Brooklyn’.
Going into the fight, many boxing experts agreed that “Kid Chocolate” Quillin was Jacobs’ most difficult opponent to date, and that he needed to win this fight to confirm his status as a genuine world class middleweight.
Not only was the WBA Middleweight Title on the line, Brooklyn bragging rights were up for grabs with a packed Barclays Center watching on.
Quillin was a slight favourite to win due to his heavy punching power, but of course, Daniel Jacobs was all too familiar with overcoming the odds, and nothing would scare him.
Before the excited Brooklyn crowd could get comfortable in their seats, it was all over, as Jacobs came out with an amazing flurry of punches, rocking Quillin and causing the referee to stop the fight less than 90 seconds into the first round.
Once again, he overcame the odds, retaining his title and becoming the unofficial king of Brooklyn boxing in the process.
Round 6: GGG - Madison Square Garden
After remaining undefeated since his return from successful surgery, Jacobs was tasked with facing the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world; Gennady Golovkin (GGG). An undefeated middleweight from Kazakhstan with devastating knockout power and an undefeated record, this was a huge step up in class.
Although he had conquered his hometown of Brooklyn, Jacobs had never headlined at Madison Square Garden, until the sold out March 2017 battle with GGG. The boxing world was glued to this fight between two of the sports most loveable characters, with zero trash talk and a lot of respect exchanged between both fighters.
Once the bell rung, all respect was briefly lost, as the two went toe-to-toe in one of the most evenly contested middleweight fights in recent memory. After being dropped by Golovkin with a vicious right hand in the fourth round, it appeared that Jacobs’ night would soon come to an end, as his opponent had never been taken the full 12 rounds by any other fighter.
But as previously mentioned, the popular Brooklyn fighter had a habit of overcoming adversity, and bounced back to give GGG his toughest challenge to date. Both fighters exchanged punches for the remainder of the fight, and although Golovkin dominated the early rounds, it was Jacobs who finished stronger, as both fighters embraced at the end of 12 entertaining rounds.
Commentators and Twitter experts argued who deserved to be victorious, as over 19,000 fans gave the two warriors a standing ovation as they embraced, waiting for the judges’ official score.
All three judges scored the fight as a narrow win to GGG, and Jacobs was understandably shattered as Michael Buffer announced the official result.
Round 7: What’s Next?
After an eight month layoff following his battle with GGG, Jacobs returned to the ring in November 2017 with a new promoter and manager - famous English boxing identity Eddie Hearn.
Hearn is credited with boxing’s recent rise to mainstream popularity in the UK, partly thanks to managing Anthony Joshua on his way to heavyweight glory and global stardom. This was highlighted by a thrilling KO win over Wladimir Klitschko in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in April last year.
Matchroom Boxing (Hearn’s company) believe that Daniel Jacobs is the perfect fighter to help the UK brand enter the United States boxing market, and have stated that the popular 30 year old will be preparing for another world title fight in the coming months.
Hearn recently declared that Jacobs “has one of the most inspirational stories you will ever see in the sport, which must be told”, underlying the former middleweight champion’s strength and marketability.
Outside of boxing, Jacobs remains extremely busy, inspiring others through his “Get in the Ring” charity foundation, which aims to “knock out childhood cancer and obesity.”
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