The mixed fortunes of Daniel Jacobs and Dimitry Pirog
By Gav Duthie: It is somewhat of a fairytale that Daniel Jacobs 27-1 (24) fights for the WBA world title on August 9th 2014. His last title challenge ended in disaster when in 2010 he was put flat on his back in the 5th round as the referee waved away the contest.
After two low-key winning comeback fights he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer.
His conqueror back in July 2010 on the undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez v Juan Diaz 2 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas was Russian middleweight Dimitry Pirog 20-0 (16). Despite being behind on the cards Pirog delivered a perfectly timed right hand to the head of Jacobs handing him the WBO middleweight championship. He made three successful defences of his title including a UD win over James Kirkland conqueror Nobuhiro Ishida. He was stripped of his title in September 2012 for defying the WBO by choosing to set up a super-fight with Gennady Golovkin instead of facing mandatory challenger N’Jikam. Jacobs life was on the line, never mind his career and Pirog was on top of the world.
Fast forward to today and the world paints a completely different picture. After undergoing a very serious back operation Daniel Jacobs defied logic and was back in the ring in just 19 months. He has since won five fights in a row all by knockout and is ranked number 4 with the WBA putting him in position to fight for the vacant middleweight title. As of yet he has not faced any fierce competition since his defeat to Pirog but is still favourite going into this title bout against Australian Jarrod Fletcher 18-1 (10). Opponent Fletcher was also stopped in his biggest challenge to date when he faced WBC 9, WBA 13, IBF 8 and WBO 3 British prospect Billy Joe Saunders 19-0 (10). Fletcher’s biggest victory so far came in his last outing against Max Bursar. But Bursar has since lost again to Martin Murray so it is difficult to give Fletcher any credibility as a prospective champion.
Dimitry Pirog has not been so fortunate. After successfully setting up a clash with fellow Eastern European Golovkin, Pirog nicknamed ‘The Grandmaster’ was looking at a career defining fight and a big payday. Not only would this have been Pirog’s biggest fight it would have been GGG’s also. In preperation for the bout Pirog suffered an injury slipping a disc in his back which resulted in the fight being cancelled. With no intention of retiring his situation has went from bad to worse. His last fight was that unanimous decision victory against Ishida now over two years ago in May 2012. Despite attempting several comebacks Pirog is no closer to a ring return.
At only 27 years old Daniel Jacobs has time on his side. With his cancer fully behind him he is now approaching his prime boxing years and if he can beat Fletcher this could set up some mega bouts against the likes of Peter Quillin, Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin. Pirog is now 34, possibly past his prime and may not ever fight again anyway. Despite Daniel Jacobs being handed some pretty raw deals it’s no wonder that he feels lucky to be fighting for another world title but if he is triumphant spare a thought for the unfortunate Dimitry Pirog.
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