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Having Defeated the ‘Big C,’ Daniel Jacobs is Hardly Intimidated by Canelo

Bernard Fernandez




When it comes to sports movies, Hollywood has always been partial to boxing. Aside from fictional characters like Rocky Balboa, biopics, some of which have been quite good if not always factually accurate, have been made about Jim Corbett, Jake LaMotta, James J. Braddock, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Chuck Wepner, Micky Ward, Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran, Vinny Pazienza and, of course, Muhammad Ali. There also were a couple of made-for-TV flicks about Rocky Marciano which, sad to say, failed to do the real Rocky justice.

But there are other, seemingly enthralling stories of actual fighters that have yet to get the silver-screen treatment. You’d think someone with clout in La La Land would consider doing something on either or both of the Sugar Rays, Robinson and Leonard. Bernard Hopkins’ tale of his lengthy championship reign after doing hard time in prison would seem to merit a look, as would the inspiring careers of Matthew Saad Muhammad and Arturo Gatti, both of whom made an art form of rallying to win fights they had no business winning.

And if some enterprising producer is looking for a project about a never-say-die scrapper who whipped an opponent scarier than anything he could ever face in the ring, he or she need look no further than the aptly nicknamed “Miracle Man,” Daniel Jacobs, whose career – and earthly existence – was imperiled by osteosarcoma, a rare and insidious form of bone cancer. Eight years ago a large tumor wrapped itself around Jacobs’ spine, paralyzing the then-24-year-old and consigning him to a wheelchair. Told by doctors he likely would never  box again and should be thankful that the osteosarcoma, which was malignant, was caught early enough to likely save his life, Jacobs’ response was to buckle down and work hard enough to whip the “Big C,” cancer, as scary a word as a shout of “shark!” is to summertime beachgoers.

After 17 months of physically and emotionally draining treatment, Jacobs resumed a career that many had wrongly assumed was finished. Thus was conferred upon him the inspirational nickname that suggests that the human spirit indeed can be unconquerable, if bolstered by the kind of resiliency, courage and foresight exhibited by the Brooklyn native who already has demonstrated he is up to the task of defying long odds.

But the story of Daniel Jacobs remains a work in progress, a potential movie in search of a rousing ending. Such an exclamation point might or might not be furnished Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, when the now-32-year-old Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) puts his IBF middleweight championship on the line against Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs), who holds the WBA, WBC, lineal and The Ring magazine 160-pound titles.

The bout, which will be streamed internationally by DAZN, is another instance of Jacobs confronting a fearsome “Big C” in the form of Canelo, a -500 wagering favorite (meaning you’d have to bet $500 to win $100) who appears to have everything going for him, with the exceptions of a couple of inches of height and a bit longer reach that certify Jacobs as the marginally larger man. But bigger doesn’t necessarily translate to better, especially inside the ropes, and it will be up to Jacobs to again demonstrate that he is capable of making miracles. When the opening bell sounds, he will be tasked with the formidable challenge of upsetting a highly skilled, laser-focused Mexican national hero during Cinco de Mayo weekend, and in a venue that has become almost as much of a home-field advantage for Alvarez as if the fight were being staged in his backyard in Guadalajara.

“This is a can’t-miss type of fight, a Hall of Famer-type of fight,” said Jacobs, widely regarded as the third-best middleweight in a global landscape where the drop-off after the top two, Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, is and will continue to be stark until proven otherwise. “When you think about top pound-for-pound fighters today, I’m not sure if I’m on that list. But wherever the fans choose to place me, that’s what I’m grateful for.

“The general consensus is that Canelo is not only the face of boxing, but he is probably pound-for-pound one of the best in the sport. I think a victory over him, a convincing victory, would definitely solidify my spot and it would be inevitable for people to know who Daniel Jacobs is.”

Jacobs is correct; as accomplished as he is, he is nowhere to be found on the top 10 pound-for-pound ratings posted by the Boxing Writers Association of America, The Ring and The vastly popular Canelo, in addition to being the most highly paid active fighter (in October 2018 he signed a five-year, 11-fight deal with DAZN for a staggering $365 million) since Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s retirement, is third on all of the aforementioned lists.

So what other edges does Alvarez seemingly have going into what appears to be, at least on paper, one of the more attractive matchups that can be made in 2019? Well, he is 28, nearly four years younger than Jacobs; he will be appearing for the 12th time in Las Vegas, for the fifth time at the T-Mobile Arena and for the fifth time during Cinco de Mayo weekend. His appearances in Vegas are the boxing equivalents of when Elvis came to town, a cause for breathless celebration not only for locals but for his many fans who pour into town like a tsunami, filling hotels, restaurants and showrooms while loudly proclaiming their support of the red-haired rock star wearing padded gloves.

Jacobs, on the other hand, is most comfortable fighting on the East Coast, especially in New York City venues. Although this will be his ninth bout in Vegas, it will be his first appearance there in nearly nine years, when, leading on all three scorecards, he failed to claim the vacant WBO middleweight belt when he was knocked out in the fifth round by now-retired Russian Dmitry Pirog. In terms of fan support on Saturday night, Jacobs and his smattering of supporters will be as outnumbered as bow tie-wearing certified public accountants at a bikers convention.

But none of that will matter when the first punch is thrown in earnest. Boxing destiny often is played out in strange and unusual ways, and Alvarez-Jacobs would seem to have the potential to provide a surprise or two.

“It is a high-risk fight,” Alvarez acknowledged of the very real threat posed by Jacobs. “I believe Jacobs is unique because he’s a very complete fighter. He can box, he can punch. He’s tall, agile. But I have fought all the styles out there. I can adapt and overcome. I want to be remembered as one of the greats in boxing. I want to continue writing history.”

Can Jacobs triumph? He not only believes he can, but will, and do so emphatically. “I think I’m the bigger hitter and definitely the stronger fighter,” he said, an opinion that may or not be valid. In a town where fortunes can be won or lost on the turn of a single card, boxing is not all that different from high-stakes Texas Hold ’Em. You win big or lose big, but to do either you have to have enough gumption to take a seat at the table.

“This is how Danny has basically been living his life,” said Andre Rozier, Jacobs’ longtime trainer. “He’s been places that none of us ever will – and I pray, never have to – visit. Danny has been through the worst that anybody could be through, and he once again will rise to the occasion.”

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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Looking at the Heavyweight Calendar (Odds Review)

Miguel Iturrate



Joshua vs Ruiz

This past Saturday night saw Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title defense against Dominic Breazeale go down on Showtime. The fight lasted just 137 seconds as Wilder floored Breazeale with a cannonball of a right hand to end the night early.

With Wilder out of the way, Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr is up next. They meet June 1st at Madison Square Garden. Two weeks later, on the 15th of June, ESPN+ will deliver Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz, so fight fans will get a look at all three members of the “Big Three” all in a month’s time.

Wilder’s erasure of Breazeale this past weekend sent a message to the rest of the division as well as giving him a highlight reel to show during upcoming negotiations. Wilder entered a strong -1000 favorite at the sportsbooks for this fight.

Check out our pre-fight review of the Wilder vs Breazeale odds right here at TSS –

Looking forward, the odds posted for Joshua and Fury’s upcoming tussles are even less competitive. Let’s take a look at what the books are giving us as we await the two big Brits fighting in the USA.

Madison Square Garden – New York City – Saturday, June 1, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Andy Ruiz Jr +1500 Over 6½ +100

Anthony Joshua -3000 Under 6½ -130

Ruiz Jr is 32-1 overall with his lone loss coming at the hands of Joseph Parker in a failed WBO world title bid. That same WBO belt is now in the hands of Joshua as are the WBA and IBF belts.

Joshua was a big favorite over Jarrell Miller, his original opponent, who was denied a license in New York after testing positive for a buffet of steroids. Ruiz Jr took the fight with less than a full training camp, but you have to believe that he is going to come in highly motivated. Ruiz Jr has been caught at a different type of buffet, the all-you-can-eat kind, but even when in the best of shape his body type isn’t “poster boy material.” Miller was big and bulky as well, but he was a near 300 pounder whereas Ruiz Jr will come in between 250 and 260 pounds, which is right around Joshua’s size. Rather than slaying a 300-pound giant, he is facing a guy who is shorter and fatter than him, making it very hard for Joshua to look great on paper.

At +1500 will people bite on Ruiz Jr? He is more experienced than Miller and he is probably a better fighter overall and though he is facing a formidable champion, Joshua is not a finished product. Perhaps Joshua will be chasing an early finish, feeling the pressure of Wilder’s performance, and if so will he make a mistake that Ruiz can exploit? We are roughly 10 days from finding out.

MGM Grand Garden – Las Vegas, Nevada – Saturday, June 15, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Tom Schwarz +1800 Over 9½ -105

Tyson Fury -3600 Under 9½ -125

Tyson Fury closes out the run of top heavyweights with a very deliberately chosen showcase fight against Tom Schwarz. Schwarz is 24 years old and 24-0 but he is a fighter who has come up on the regional German scene and as the old boxing cliche goes, there are levels to this game.

Former contender David Haye mounted a 2016 comeback, booking fights against Mark De Mori (30-1-2) and Arnold Gjergjaj (29-0). It took Haye precisely 6:42 to dispose of both of them, and though Fury is a completely different beast than Haye, the level difference between he and Schwarz may be even as striking.

Wilder has gotten through his “challenge” and if Fury and Joshua also emerge as winners as expected, it will leave several open questions –

– Will Fury vs Wilder 2 happen first, or will Wilder vs Joshua go down first? Could Joshua and Fury meet and freeze Wilder out?


– Will we see any of these fights take place in 2019?

If Joshua or Fury stumble, it will only add to the chaos in the heavyweight division. But if the professional oddsmakers know anything, it isn’t likely to happen.

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Three Punch Combo: An Early Look at Inoue-Donaire and Under the Radar Fights

Matt Andrzejewski



Inoue vs Donaire

THREE PUNCH COMBO — This past Saturday, Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KO’s) punched his ticket to the bantamweight final in the World Boxing Super Series when he impressively knocked out Emmanuel Rodriguez in the second round of their scheduled 12-round fight. The win sets up a showdown with veteran Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KO’s) who punched his ticket to the final with an impressive knockout of Stephon Young last month.

As expected, Inoue has opened as a monstrous favorite in the betting markets. While this suggests a one-sided wipeout, I have some other thoughts.

Inoue is pound for pound one of, if not the, hardest puncher in the sport today and put that power on full display in his destruction of Rodriguez in the semi-finals. But having enormous power does not make him indestructible.

In watching that fight against Rodriguez, there were clearly flaws on display on the defensive side of Inoue’s game. For one, Inoue does not move his head at all and as such can be hit. Rodriguez landed several clean punches on Inoue in the first round. And Inoue frequently keeps his hands low looking to bait opponents into throwing to set up counter opportunities. It has worked so far but could be something he pays for down the road.

Donaire is a smart and skilled fighter and though he is 36, his last few fights have shown that he still has plenty left in the tank. Moreover, he possesses one thunderous left hook and has always been at his best when fighting below 122. He has all the capabilities to expose Inoue’s flaws and a left hook that can alter the course of a fight as we have seen him doing plenty of times in the past.

Unlike a lot of people, I do not consider Donaire to be another layup for Inoue. There is real danger in this fight for Inoue if he does not make changes to his game. Donaire has starched big punching rising stars before and I would not discount his chances to expose the significant defensive flaws in Inoue’s game.

 Under The Radar Fight

Boxing returns to ESPN on Saturday with a card from Kissimmee, FL headlined by 130- pound champion Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13 KO’s) who is making the second defense of his title against former US Olympian Jamel Herring (19-2, 10 KO’s). While I think this should be an excellent fight, the co-feature, which is flying deep under the radar, should be even better.

In this fight, former two division world champion Jose Pedraza (25-2, 12 KO’s) makes his return to the ring after losing his lightweight title to Vasiliy Lomachenko in December to face Antonio Lozada (40-2-1, 34 KO’s). Given their respective styles, this fight at the very least will provide plenty of sustained action.

Appropriately nicknamed “The Sniper,” Pedraza at his best is a precision puncher. A boxer-puncher by trade, he uses subtle movement inside the ring to create angles that are used to land sharp power shots on his opposition. He is also a very good inside fighter and will shift around on the inside to once again set up just the right angle to land his power shots with maximum efficiency. But despite being a good inside fighter, Pedraza has a tendency to stay in the pocket a bit too long which leaves him open to getting hit.

Lozada is best known for his upset TKO win against one-time blue-chip prospect Felix Verdejo in March of 2018. However, he failed to build momentum off that win and is coming off a lackluster split draw his last time out to 12-7-1 journeyman Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez.

Lozada certainly does not have the technical proficiency of Pedraza. He is slow and plodding. But what he does bring to the table is relentless pressure combined with a high volume of punches. He will press forward, recklessly at times, winging punches consistently hoping to wear down his opposition through attrition.  As such, he tends to get hit a lot and can be involved in shootouts.

Cleary, Pedraza is the more skilled fighter, but given Lozada’s all-offensive mindset as well as Pedraza’s willingness to stay in the pocket, the leather is all but guaranteed to be flying from the opening bell. Neither are big punchers either so I suspect we see a fight that goes rounds providing many exciting exchanges and one that could certainly steal the show on Saturday.

Another Under The Radar Fight

Also on Saturday, Fox Sports 1 will televise a card from Biloxi, MS featuring a crossroads fight between former 154-pound champion Austin Trout (31-5, 17 KO’s) and former US Olympian Terrell Gausha (21-1, 10 KO’s). But it is another 154-pound fight on the undercard that is receiving almost no coverage that I want to highlight. It pits Chordale Booker (14-0, 7 KO’s) against Wale Omotoso (27-3, 21 KO’s).

Booker turned pro in 2016 after a successful amateur career and has kept up a fairly busy schedule. He is coming off a dominating 8-round unanimous decision over veteran Juan De Angel in January and now is taking a big jump up in his caliber of opposition in facing Omotoso.

Booker, a southpaw, likes to press forward behind a stinging right jab. He possesses elite level hand speed and likes to use that jab to set up quick power punching combinations. Booker is also an excellent counter puncher and possesses a very potent right hook coming from that southpaw stance. He will often hold his left low to bait his opponents into opening up to set up counter opportunities. However, he has also been clipped by his share of left hooks fighting in this manner and this is something he will need to tighten up against Omotoso. So just how will Booker respond to Omotoso’s pressure and heavy handed body attack? Depending on the answer, we will either see Booker step up to the next level or get exposed. And that’s what makes this fight so intriguing to me

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Serhii Bohachuk KOs Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez in Hollywood

David A. Avila



in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-Super welterweight prospect Serhii Bohachuk got his first taste of upper tier boxing from Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez and gave him his best Sunday punch to win by knockout.

Bohachuk (14-0, 14 KOs) showed the excited Hollywood crowd he’s more than ready for former world title challengers like Hernandez (34-11, 22 KOs) or maybe even the current contenders with an exuberant display of pressure fighting at the Avalon Theater.

The smiling Ukrainian fighter has been steadily attracting fans to the 360 Promotions fight cards.

Trained by Abel Sanchez, the lanky and pale Bohachuk – whose nickname “El Flaco” fits perfectly – always moved forward against Mexico City’s Hernandez who has made a reputation of being crafty despite the strength of competition. With Bohachuk constantly applying pressure the Mexican fighter used the first round to touch and feel his way around the Ukrainian bomber.

In the second round a sharp counter right floored Hernandez who quickly got up and resumed the contest. It looked like the end was near until Hernandez caught Bohachuk with a solid right cross. It was a warning shot well heeded by Bohachuk.

Both fighters exchanged vigorously in the third round with the Ukrainian fighter’s youth a definite advantage. Hernandez was able to display his fighting tools more effectively in the third round but could it be enough?

Bohachuk was clearly the heavier-handed fighter but was finding it difficult to connect solidly against the Mexican veteran. But in the fifth round Bohachuk lowered his gun sights and targeted the body with a left hook that dropped Hernandez.  The fight was stopped by referee Wayne Hedgepeth at 1:40 of the fifth round.

Other Bouts

A battle of super featherweights saw Rialto, California’s Adrian Corona (5-0) rally from behind to defeat Florida’s Canton Miller (3-3-1) by split decision after six rounds.

Corona had problems with Miller’s speed in the first two rounds and was unable to track the moving fighter’s direction. But in the third round Corona began to apply more aggressive measures against Miller and was especially effective with lead rights. The momentum changed quickly.

Miller switched from orthodox to southpaw and it served to pause Corona’s momentum, but he seldom scored with solid blows. Though Miller landed quick soft blows, Corona was landing with strong shots and convinced two of the three judges that he was the winner by 58-56 twice. A third judge saw Miller the victor by the same score 58-56.

“It’s not my job to judge the judges,” said Miller. “It’s my job to just fight.”

Corona was happy with the victory.

“I could have put the pressure on him a little more,” said Corona. “It was a very technical fight and he put on a great fight.”

Other Bouts

George Navarro (6-0-1, 2 KOs) knocked out Cesar Sustaita (3-5) with a perfect overhand right that disabled the senses and forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to halt the fight at 1:37 of the first round.

“I worked hard to prepare for this fight,” said Navarro.

A super bantamweight clash saw Humberto Rubalcava (10-1, 7 KOs) knock out Daniel Constantino (3-3-2) and win by knockout after a flurry of a dozen blows went unanswered. Referee Angel Mendez stopped the battering at 1:39 of the first round.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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