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Jermall Charlo v Danny Jacobs: What Would That Look Like?

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While the boxing world – and the mainstream sporting audience – awaits the next chapter in the Canelo versus Golovkin saga, a fight that is potentially even better percolates. Daniel Jacobs, the man who gave the middleweight division a blueprint for beating or at least surviving a fight with Golovkin has repeatedly called out rising star and former 154-pound titlist Jermall Charlo. Andre Rozier, Jacobs’ trainer and one of the best in the business, today confirmed to Michael Woods that Jacobs wants a fight with Charlo next.

I am going to skip the potential hang-ups that exist for this, given that the two fighters have different television homes and somewhat at-odds promotional situations. Instead, I want to look at how this fight might play out and delve into why this is one of the best fights that can be made right now. Both fighters are in their prime and while Jacobs is certainly more battle tested, Charlo has flashed the kind of skills and killer instinct that make him a top middleweight just two fights into his campaign at 160.

Let’s start with Daniel Jacobs, the cancer survivor and Brooklynite in the truest sense of the word. Jacobs is best described as a classic boxer-puncher, meaning he has the skills to box and move but has the aggressive orientation to jump on wounded prey – letting fans know that while he is no mere brute, he can finish. His two most impressive performances have come against Peter Quillin, a first round stoppage in which he stunned him early then kept coming until the referee waived off the bout, and Gennady Golovkin, where he climbed off the deck and pushed the long reigning champion to twelve rounds for the first time in his career while making the fight extremely close.

Jacobs is a good but not great puncher, hence why his boxing acumen is so important. He has very sound fundamental skills, especially on defense where he can catch punches on his gloves and shoulders. Because of this he is able to shoot counters with relative ease, the clean shots amplifying his power. In his last fight against Maciej Sulecki, Jacobs showed those skills to great effect. Despite not putting on the kind of performance I felt him capable of – perhaps owing to his lack of respect for Sulecki’s power – he continually stood in the pocket slipping and blocking shots while firing sharp and accurate counters, eventually putting his opponent on the deck in the final round. His unwillingness to lead hurt him a little, occasionally looking uncomfortable when he had to initiate, but while the fight was closer than some expected he was still the clear winner. 

Jermall Charlo on the other hand is best described as a monster. Years ago, Max Kellerman uttered the now famous phrase “there’s a monster in the middleweight division,” when describing the emergence of Gennady Golovkin. The same can be said of Charlo, who combines highly refined boxing skills with murderous power that can compare to anyone at 160. Just 27 years old, Charlo is already becoming one of the more avoided fighters in the sport because of his ability to end a fight with one flurry, much like Golovkin was able to do for years. 

Charlo’s last fight, against game underdog Huge Centeno Jr, was a lesson in class. The first round was uneventful as Centeno circled and bounced about the ropes in an effort to stay away from Charlo. This was obviously part of a plan, as the basic prescription for fighting a young power puncher is to drag him into the later rounds where his power is less considerable. The problem is that Charlo never misses an opportunity, especially lately, to attack when he sees weakness. He is a sublime counterpuncher, though different that Jacobs in that he counters with several shots and can play defense while throwing his own shots.

He caught Centeno with several shots that knocked him nearly cold and ended the fight abruptly in the second round. The first time Centeno tried to come forward he was punished for his efforts, which is how Charlo operates. Where Golovkin, in whom I think he sees a lot of himself, will jab, jab, jab and then unload with the real power, Charlo waits for you to fuck up in some minor way before punishing you for your errors. His jab is very good, but it is nothing compared to his killer instinct and penchant for throwing damaging and entirely orthodox punches that seem to be pulled from the very pages of Boxiana.

Jacobs, who I feel would be more prone to lead in this fight, would have to be extremely cautious with Charlo. He is the bigger puncher, and his counters are devastating. That said, Jacobs has been in with some of the best at 160 and has an advanced defense beyond anything Charlo has yet seen. His knack for using the ancient cross-armed defense that he claims to have learned from studying Archie Moore – for my money one of the finest artists the sport was ever witness to – has befuddled many opponents. Even Sulecki, who appeared to be having success at times, only battered Jacobs shoulders with most of his shots. 

Charlo would have to be more conventional in his attack. I think the recipe for beating Jacobs is to do just what Golovkin did to him. Apply pressure. Of course, Golovkin is to the average pressure fighter what a Charlie Parker is to your high school jazz club, but I feel Charlo has the talent to reproduce the effort. On top of that, he is much faster than Golovkin, so back peddling will be of little use to Jacobs should Charlo go the constant pressure route. 

This is probably a 50/50 fight, or maybe 60/40 in favour of the younger and stronger Charlo. I generally disregard to character argument, favouring talent over will, however Jacobs may be the one fighter whose personal history makes him unique in his willpower. What I can say for sure is that this would be one hell of a fight, and I am praying it gets made before 2018 is over.

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