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Daniel Jacobs: A Future Champion or a Bust?

Daniel JacobsBy Jason Kim: Middleweight contender Daniel Jacobs (18-0, 15 KO’s) has emerged on the boxing world with a great deal of hype about him due to his successful amateur background on the East coast area. A former 2004 and 2005 National Golden Gloves middleweight champion, a lot has been expected of him after Jacobs turned pro in 2007.

Unlike most other boxers, Jacobs has gotten a great deal of attention due to his bouts being shown on the undercard of HBO fights, as well as on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. For a brief time, it was thought that Jacobs was an unstoppable knockout artist, that is, until a few of the boxing experts noticed that Jacobs’ power wasn’t as great as his knockout record suggested.

Shortly after that, Jacobs suddenly began to be put in with better fighters, ones that wouldn’t fold so easily. In the last three fights against Michael Walker, George Walton and Ishe Smith, Jacobs suddenly doesn’t look like the huge puncher that people originally thought he was, as he’s been take the distance in two out of his last three bouts.

At the same time, Jacob’s defense – or lack thereof – has been exposed by his opponents with Jacobs taking some big shots in each of these fights. The latest fight against Ishe Smith last weekend was a prime example. In that fight, Jacobs was staggered in the 5th round by a right hand from Smith.

Jacobs needed to grab onto Smith and looked to be several punches away from being knocked out. In case no one knows, Smith isn’t a big puncher, not even close to being one. But Smith was still a bigger puncher than Jacobs in that fight. For those people who were really high Jacobs and see him as future, that’s not good news.

Jacobs won’t be able to go far in the middleweight division unless he has good power to cover up for the boxing skills that Jacobs is missing. His defense is poor, and so is his footwork, stamina and hand speed. From what I see of Jacobs, he appears to be a poor man’s version of Jermain Taylor.

Jacobs is still young at 22, and well ahead of Taylor at this point in his career in terms of progress. At this point in Taylor’s career, he hadn’t quite turned pro yet. However, Taylor already had the offensive tools in place – power and hand speed – before he turned pro.

Jacobs is missing those assets and at 22, I’m not entirely sure he’ll ever get them. Let’s assume that Jacobs is about as powerful and as fast as he’ll ever be as a fighter. Can Jacobs develop his jab and fix his defense. Probably he can, but I don’t know whether fixing his slow jab and his poor defense will be enough for Jacobs to contend with middleweights like Felix Sturm, Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik.

As of now, I think Jacobs would be way over his head against those fighters. I also think Jacobs would have huge problems with middleweight contenders Winky Wright, Sebastian Zbik, Hassan N’Dam N’ Jikam, and Sergio Mora. No amount of training would likely put Jacobs in the class of those fighters.

Those guys have loads of talent and had it from the beginning. I just don’t see that from Jacobs, I hate to say. Unless Jacobs goes through some incredible growth period where his strength shoots astronomically and his hand speed and defense show a lot of improvement, I see him as nothing more than a gatekeeper.

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