This weekend is the culmination of a long journey for Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs. The Brownsville, Brooklyn native has been tested time and time again, with the outcome almost always being the same: victorious. Before boxing, the young Jacobs was raised by his matriarchal grandmother. She instilled in him a gentlemanly outlook that rose above his Brownsville environment.
When Jacobs began to box, it is no wonder he did so well amid the competitive pressures, for like most true gentlemen, patience and excellence were his guiding virtues.
His amateur career was stellar, recording 137 wins and 7 losses, and then came the early accolades. Jacobs won the Junior Olympics national championship, became a United States national champion in the 19–and–under division, two PAL national championships, and a National Golden Gloves welterweight and middleweight championship. Jacobs also won the United States Amateur middleweight championship and four New York Golden Gloves crowns.
To say he was primed for greatness is an understatement. When he turned pro in 2008 on the undercard of the Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton fight, he began to capture the world’s attention. Jacobs went 20-0 with 16 KOs over competitors like Ishe Smith landing him his first world championship bout against Russian standout Dmitry Pirog in just two years. The fight for the then-vacant WBO middleweight title would end in Jacobs being knocked out in the 5th round, but it was the first of many new obstacles he would face.
“My grandmother was like my mom growing up – she was that one,” said Jacobs on the international media call. “Fighting at that time was the toughest test of my career – fighting for a world championship and seeing my grandmother pass away. Having to fly out to the fight the next day then three days later. I just wasn’t really mature enough to take that on and kind of grieve the way a normal person is supposed to.”
Danny rebounded, compiling two knockout wins in a row before being hit with the biggest news of his career: he had osteosarcoma, a deadly form of bone-cancer. Jacobs would sit out of competition for 19 months, with no one thinking he would be able to return. However, his inner strength pushed him out of the New York Presbyterian Hospital bed and back into longtime trainer Andre Rozier’s gym.
“I’m not saying I’m glad those things happened, but when tremendous things happen, it only makes you stronger and know who you really are when your back is against the wall,“ Jacobs said.
Since then, he has only gotten better, returning with a first-round KO over Josh Lutheran in 2012 and currently on a 10-fight win streak since his return.
Now with the boxing world more ablaze then ever before, Jacobs meets the current middleweight kingpin, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin across the borough line in Madison Square Garden this weekend. With the world talking about a potential future matchup with Canelo Alvarez in GGG’s future, Jacobs is more ready than ever for the challenge.
“Simply put, it will be icing on the cake," he said. "It would be the pinnacle of this crazy life and career that I have - the ups and downs - going through all the things that I’ve been through. It has been my goal to become undisputed champion and to be considered the best champion so this would definitely represent that.”
With boxing returning to the best fighting the best at their athletic primes, this fight is the epitome of opportunity for both athletes. After watching Golovkin lose on the cards to Kell Brooks before knocking him out, many questioned GGG's consistency.
For Jacobs, chasing greatness always goes back to the qualities instilled in him by his late grandmother; patience, excellence and a humility that begs recognition of his want to be a true role model.
“I have always looked up to Derek Jeter," said Jacobs. "He was a great sportsman and athlete and everything he did was just gold. I’ve always thought that one day, I am going to be The King of New York. I’m just looking forward to being the best athlete that I can be and being a voice for the people and be a good role model – that is really my agenda.”