By David Walker: Last time out, in November 2020, Daniel Jacobs put in a far from a stellar performance against Gabe Rosado. He was missing that drive and energy that had won him the WBA and IBF middleweight titles.
Jacobs had to face many questioning his desire, following that performance in what was his 40th professional bout. These weren’t unwarranted; he’d already faced the best there was, made a great fortune, and was in the 13th year of his career.
Boxing has seen many men starting to show their age as they enter the twilight of their careers, and the Marvin Hagler quote that it’s hard to get out of bed to do road work at 5 am when you’ve been wearing silk pajamas remains timeless.
Jacobs had to answer all of these questions on Saturday against British hopeful John Ryder in North London.
Perhaps the 15-month break would’ve done Jacobs good; he would emerge refreshed, recharged, and recalibrated. Bookmakers had him as the favorite, a world class fighter a level above Ryder, bound to find a way through.
After the opening bell sounded, Jacobs was technical and slick, handling Ryder as well as he’d handled fighters of his caliber in the past. By round 6, he was streets ahead. It was at this point that Ryder made some well-needed adjustments.
Ryder was now fighting on the inside, taking it to Jacobs, whose speed seemingly disintegrated. Ryder was then in the ascendancy. Jacobs briefly switched to Southpaw in the 8th, which brought no real success, so switched back to orthodox for rounds 11 and 12, enabling him to get back into the fight.
It was a close encounter in truth, but most seemingly had thought Jacobs had done enough to take the judge’s decision. As is usually the case in boxing, the UK being no exception, the decision went to the home fighter.
Ryder was victorious by split decision. The result was in no way a travesty, a robbery, or the like. Jacobs had visibly faded, and as an overseas fighter, you can’t throw away a handful of rounds and expect to come out on top when it goes to the judges’ scorecards.
For Ryder, the door is now open for a shot at a version of the world super-middleweight title, which he is more than deserving after a couple of tough years himself. Ryder said it himself in the post-fight interview, stating that he wouldn’t like to have fought the Jacobs of 5 years ago.
Herein lies the problem for Jacobs, no longer the fighter he once was. As to where he goes next, that remains to be seen. Before the fight, Jacobs insisted a loss wouldn’t be the end of the road.
Stating he was a world class fighter who remains highly marketable. Post-fight, Jacobs may take time to reconsider. If it is the end, Jacobs will be remembered fondly.
As an excellent fighter who overcame the odds to capture multiple world titles and that’s a far greater achievement than most.