“First it must be scaled, followed by a storm that awaits. For any man that desires to be champion, he must ascend through fire while ignoring the broken rungs along the way.”
—John Gatling, Jacob's Ladder, NYF's November 2017
It would seem that life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. For whatever history we made, we press on with the idea that we can repeat if the memories are fond, largely unaware of former selves until time reveals a shade of autumn grey.
Last year at Nassua Coliseum in Long Island, new IBF middleweight world champion Daniel Jacobs (35-0, 29KOs) was riding a wave of success after failure. Because then unified champ Gennady “GGG” Golovkin had won– but really didn't beat Jacobs, “The Miracle Man,” age 31, began charting a new course to victory with expectation of success by paint jobbing a talented Luis Arias on an HBO applying its first coat of DAZN in our living room walls.
It was an OK performance, but it was, well, flat. Some of us felt Jacobs, a rare talent of ambidextrous speed and skill, should've flattened Arias. I certainly expected him to. Still, his 2017 showing was good enough to anticipate a scintillating 2018 and I asked Danny about that after his UD over Arias beyond a post fight presser that ended around 3 am.
“Oh look, it’s Batman!” said Jacobs, jabbing me for my Dark Knight scully before turning serious in eloquent fashion. “I'm excited for what's ahead, man, I really am. From here on out the big names are all on notice. Some great things are on the horizon and I'm looking to prove I'm the best middleweight in the world.”
Enter April 2018 and a terse affair that saw Jacobs edge a tough Maciej Sulecki from Poland in his native Brooklyn at the Barclays Center via narrow UD. It was OK, but casuals won't rewind that fight, nor will they rewind an excellent split decision win over an ultra tough Sergiy Derevyanchenko only a purist could love. Most of us at ringside the other night at MSG anticipated a nip ’n tuck 12 round affair with Derevyanchenko, but none of us would expect nothing but dangerous fireworks and sheer drama if Jacobs were opposite Jermall Charlo, who was seen chumping the big-mouthed bully on March 4 at the aforementioned Barclays. What we've forgotten over the course of the last two years, is that Jacobs is actually a beautiful KO artist who’s been matched too ugly for real fans to care. Charlo, who Danny can't stand, would absolutely try to get that man KTFO. There is a similar disdain for Canelo Alvarez, in contrast to Demetrius “Boo-Boo” Andrade, someone he basically considers a little brother. Think he'd try to get him KTFO? No, he wouldn't.
The great thing about a ringside perspective when evaluating fighters is that it offers a truer understanding of where a fighter is and where he or she may be going. Lost on many fans was just how bruising an affair fights like Saturday night can be for a fighter like Jacobs, whose ladder to his own version of heaven will get decidedly more perilous from here on out. He's already dissed Golovkin for no longer being ‘a champion', and who knows if a deal with DAZN can be worked out for a salty “GGG” who might be better off pulling a Marvin Hagler and just retiring. Personally, Jacobs has earned the right to demand a fight he wants to make himself in fan demand. Eddie said it himself, Danny's the new champion and can call this shot. There is no conceivable way in my mind that a fight with Jermall Charlo goes the distance. Work it out. It's a cold autumn and winter is approaching.