Danny Jacobs has never been more ready to seize the opportunity to be a world champion.
The Brownsville boxer steps into the ring to face Jarrod Fletcher with the vacant World Boxing Association world middleweight title on the line at the Barclays Center on August 9. Brooklyn-bred boxers Sadam Ali, Zachary Ocho, and Edgar Santana will also be on the card.
The last time Jacobs had a shot at the world title was back in 2010, in a bout against Dmitry Pirog. It was the lone loss of his career. Jacobs blames the loss on lack of mental toughness at the time.
“I had the skills. I had the natural talent to be a world champion at that level, but my mental state wasn’t as strong as it is now,” Jacobs said. “That’s why I feel like I’ll be more successful this time around.”
After surviving spinal cancer that nearly left him paralyzed, the 27-year-old feels like he has the maturity and mental stamina to take down Fletcher and win the title.
Jacobs has used the 2010 Pirog fight as a learning experience on how to better approach and prepare for a bout of this magnitude. Jacobs (27–1, 24 knickouts) knows there are going to be some nerves when he fights in the co-main event to Danny Garcia defending his welterweight titles against Rod Salka, but his experience will allow him to control the butterflies when the bell rings against the 30-year-old Fletcher (18–1, 1 knockout). The Australian, who Jacobs described as a jabber who is going to look to score points, is making his first professional appearance in the United States.
The hard-punching Jacobs, on the other hand, is living the dream and still in awe of where life as taken him. He’s won seven-straight fights. All but one has been by knockout or technical knockout.
The struggles of beating cancer and returning to the ring have all built up to this moment for Jacobs — the chance to win his first world title in front of his hometown fans.
“It writes the picture-perfect story,” Jacobs said. “I couldn’t have had a better opportunity to have everything go my way. I know I have to take advantage of it.”
He remembers dreaming as a kid to of raising the belt over his head, and expects an emotional night if that dream comes true. Jacobs is better prepared to do that at this point in his career, and he doesn’t know if this chance will come around again.
He knows he can’t let his ultimate goal get away once more.
“I have a second chance, Jacobs said. “Most people don’t get a second chance. This is it.”