All kidding aside: Daniel Jacobs-Peter Quillin

Jacobs-Quillin fight poster-Showtime

Poster courtesy of the Showtime network

 

It’s been two long years since the last “Battle for Brooklyn” was fought and if you’re any boxing fan with a pulse, sleepless nights and downtrodden days have slowly passed since Paulie Malignaggi decisioned Zab Judah to take the unofficial Brooklyn championship crown. The wait comes to an end  this Saturday  night at the Barclays Center as Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs squares off against Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin on “Showtime Championship Boxing” (9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 PT).

 

Yes, the Brooklyn infighting narrative is being rehashed and, this time around, you don’t even have to grow up in the borough to be a part of it. Quillin, who was born in Chicago, Il., raised in Grand Rapids, Mich. and calls Brooklyn home since turning professional (not counting the few years spent in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Freddie Roach). Sure, he didn’t grow up in the borough but, to be fair, Quillin still has plenty of growing up to do at 32 years old.

 

“(Jacobs has) got something to prove. I don’t have anything to prove,” was the quote from Quillin heading a press release from Showtime for its “All Access” episode, which served as a preview to the fight.

 

 

It’s an abysmal assessment of one’s career at the moment  that rivals “Kid Chocolate’s” fashion statements lately. Despite still having an undefeated record, Quillin, 32-0-1 (23), hasn’t looked like the impressive middleweight knockout artist who dominated Hassan N’Dam in a decision and blew away Fernando Guerrero when he first jumped onto the big stage as the WBO titleholder in 2013. After slaughtering Guerrero, Quillin ran into troubled waters late in a fight with Gabriel Rosado at the end of that year and, if it weren’t for the cuts that’ve consistently haunted Rosado, a late surge from Gabe that had Pete warily stepping backward was thwarted abruptly.

 

Quillin followed up with his worst year as a professional. 2014 was basically held hostage for Quillin’s sake as Al Haymon, Peter’s manager, had his venture of Premier Boxing Champions still in the works for 2015. Most of Haymon’s stable balked in 2014 with his new project on the horizon and Quillin fought only once against Lukas Konecny – a virtual unknown from Poland whose claim to fame was surviving the European circuit without being knocked down. Konecny kept the no-knockdown streak going after facing Quillin in his American debut but was blanked on the cards after being outboxed. Pete outclassed him but didn’t close the show against a guy who wasn’t ranked in any Top 15 middleweight rankings other than the WBO. Later in the year, Quillin decided to vacate that title in order to avoid facing Matt Korobov, who was, at the time, an unbeaten mandatory. Quillin had already been accused of steering clear of others in the division and now swerved blatantly against an untested Russian (Quillin would have made a career-high payday of $1.4 million, had he fought Korobov). While his reasoning was unknown during that time, its story sat on a shelf for six months, for whatever reason, and was then gift-wrapped to Kevin Iole in this Yahoo! Sports column just before his fight to reclaim the title he relinquished.

 

In an ironic twist, Quillin fought Andy Lee for the same 160-pound WBO title Lee won after knocking Korobov out at the end of 2014. It was the culmination of Quillin’s lackluster year as he would get to fight for a world title on a huge stage, being on NBC. He also got to fight for it in Brooklyn but on a PBC undercard featuring two fighters who weren’t BK natives, Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson. At the scale one day prior, Quillin failed to make the 160-pound limit and he entered the fight knowing he wouldn’t get the so-called redemption of winning back his belt. If they hadn’t traded knockdowns, the fight between Quillin and Lee would have been completely forgetful as they postured in front of each other for a majority of the fight. It ended in a draw and, while Quillin indeed had a case of being the winner, he couldn’t get the “hometown” nod. In his last fight last September, with  Dec. 5 already circled on the calendar, Quillin showed flashes of that knockout power everyone believed he possessed but his opponent, Michael Zerafa, was so overmatched, one can’t help but feel it was a mirage. Zerafa, a Chippendale’s dancer-turned-boxer, got wrecked by Quillin so badly he had to be stretchered off the canvas. It certainly wasn’t PBC’s proudest moment in a fight that had a criminal afterthought.

 

Speaking of stretchers, Jacobs had one of the best “Fuck you” moments in the ring this year after he immediately denied Sergio Mora a rematch after beating him. Mora sat there on the stool with a broken ankle, disappointed the injury cut his night short in the second round. The two traded knockdowns in the first and Mora seemingly had a shot to upset Jacobs. “I want a rematch,” were his final words before ESPN reporter Bernardo Osuna went to talk to Jacobs. “No rematch,” Danny said, “No reason for me to go backwards now.” Meanwhile, Mora sat there, to no avail, waiting for assistance to leave the ring and then proceeded to be a part of quite possibly the worst attempt to exit the ring in a splint.

 

 

Usually an injury would rule this one a no-contest but Jacobs was credited with a knockdown when the injury happened, therefore he secured the victory. Even though Mora rightfully deserves the rematch, with all things considered, facing Quillin is a much better fight for Jacobs and it’s certainly a step forward rather than the alternative.

 

They call him “The Miracle Man” because of his triumphant return to the ring after beating cancer. Jacobs was on his deathbed nine months after suffering his lone defeat to Dmitry Pirog in 2010, in which he was shockingly stopped in his first world title shot. A boxing prodigy to some in his developmental stage, at 24 years old, Jacobs found himself fighting a cancerous tumor lodged in his spine. It would be the biggest test of his life – and the biggest fight inside or outside the ring. He beat it and something as simple as walking again was nothing short of miraculous, let alone returning to the ring. Jacobs, 30-1 (27), looks every bit as back to his former self and has quietly stopped every opponent he’s faced – 10 in all – since losing to Pirog. However, the competition in that span isn’t exactly a list to boast about and, come  Saturday, a win over Quillin should be the biggest of Jacobs’ pro career.

 

“I can’t afford to lose this fight. My dreams of becoming a superstar will all be over,” Jacobs was quoted in the same press release in which Quillin left everyone scratching their heads. It was a moment of clarity for Jacobs to look at his situation from the outside looking in, while Quillin’s thought seemed unaware of his own station in boxing. Somewhere along the way, Jacobs acquired a WBA middleweight trinket that has given the promotion the right to label this contest a “world championship” bout. Never mind the fact that Gennady Golovkin has held the sanctioning body’s true title since 2010 and is now characterized as its “super champion” (in short, Jacobs’ belt is basically an interim one). Jacobs’ belt that he’ll wear to the ring has as much validity as the Barclays Belt presented at the fight’s first press conference.

 

Only 28 years old, Jacobs, the true Brooklyn native from Brownsville, will finally get truly tested since his lone defeat, health scare and inspiring comeback.

 

That isn’t a Photoshopped mockery of the latest BK conflict but the official fight poster commissioned by Showtime. It’s already been compared by many as a cheap Godzilla reference and its inferior choice of posture, layout and use of of the word “championship” feel as forced and contrived as Gojira’s friend-turned-foe, Jet Jaguar.

 

Maybe the graphic designer is a Kid Chocolate fan, considering Jacobs looks like he’s on his way down. Plus, being the A-side, you’d think he’d have his face shown on the poster. It’s not to say it’s a bad idea for a fight poster but Brooklyn doesn’t even have tall buildings, let alone iconic ones to fight around. As for the championship part, well, there’s a Kazakh in the division who would have something to say about that. He bears the nickname “Triple G,” which, in this scenario, resembles Godzilla’s best villain, the three-headed monster, King Ghidorah.

 

Yet, despite all the fictitious precedents and the WBA’s cash grab of sanctioning fees, Jacobs-Quillin is one match-up to which all boxing fans should pay attention.

 

It’s about as even a match you can make in the middleweight division. Las Vegas agrees and has Quillin the slight favorite at -130, with Jacobs at +110. Such odds are a rarity in boxing and it’s a testament to how intriguing this fight really is, not to mention a very important one to the 160-pound class as a whole.

 

Quillin is a bulky middleweight with decent speed and above-average power, who is going up against someone who has been stopped with a clean shot before. As for his holes, Quillin doesn’t have the greatest defense and sometimes lacks footwork that keeps him balanced when throwing punches. One of the best examples of that facet of balance was when Pirog iced Jacobs.

 

 

In the other corner, Jacobs is the slicker fighter with the quicker hands and has minimal advantages in height (one inch) and reach (one-and-a-half inches). Although they’re about the same size, Jacobs has a top-heavy build to him with skinny legs and muscular arms, whereas Quillin is a bit more filled-out. top to bottom.

 

When it’s all said and done, Jacobs and Quillin are two Top 5 middleweights, both with power and questionable chins as of late – two ingredients for a fun bout, especially because they’re important pieces to a meager middleweight division. Saturday  night will be the biggest fight of their respected careers to date and it will answer questions about both. Despite all the hoopla or what’s said outside the ring, Jacobs-Quillin is a must-see fight and that’s all that really matters.

 

You can reach Michael Baca II at mikebaca2@gmail.com, follow him at twitter.com/wotbboxing and visit him at his blog, writeonthebutton.squarespace.com.

 

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