Backstage at the weigh-ins before his Dec. 20 fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., a man confronted Daniel Jacobs near the entrance of the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The headphones around this man’s neck couldn’t hide his tattoos. The wide ear-to-ear grin revealed his mood as he walked into the resort with his grey Adidas sweater and red dad hat. (No, not that red dad hat.)
The man had his arms out, smiling as Jacobs, 33, finished putting on his white sweatshirt, which read, ‘The Miracle,’ with a dark cancer ribbon accompanying the phrase.
“You know why I wanna thank you?” Jacobs — a survivor of osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer — asked rhetorically as he confronted the man, both smiling at one another. He continued, leaning in to speak directly into this man’s ear, while also tapping him on his shoulder and chest area, “If you weren’t the replacement. I wouldn’t have gotten that extra ‘M’ in the bank for leverage, so, you the man, bro! Good luck tomorrow.”
The man maintained his smile and replied to the confident Jacobs, “Handle your business then, dawg,” then paused, erased the smile from his face, and in a more serious tone, offered to him, “But you corny, though!”
As the cordial confrontation morphed into a skirmish that required separation, Jacobs famously told him two things.
- “You will never step foot in the ring with me, you know why? Because you don’t deserve it … because of your record!”
- “I get nothing out of fighting you.”
The man was Gabriel Rosado, who fought on that same undercard as Jacobs did that December, winning by unanimous decision before Chavez quit after five rounds in the main event with Jacobs.
This Friday, Jacobs (36-3, 30 KOs) and Rosado (25-12-1, 14 KOs) are fighting one another at super middleweight, doing battle in the main event of Matchroom Boxing’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino card in Hollywood, Fla., for the first time since that December. With the new normal, Rosado can’t confront Jacobs in this same way until their own weigh-in, maybe, but both hungry combatants have managed to get their roasts in before their fight. It allows Rosado to expound upon calling Jacobs a “nut-ass motherfucker” in that same Phoenix face-off.”
Jacobs and Rosado even held an E-Press Conference last week, via Matchroom, which included this.
It’s easy to dismiss Rosado’s record, but to his credit, and Jacobs’ own admission, his sparse amateur background leading to an early debut amounted to a vastly imperfect career start. The Philadelphia-born Puerto Rican gained notoriety in the sport for his challenges against blue-chip prospects like Fernando Guerrero, undefeated champions like Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin, and he’s even a former Big Knockout Boxing Middleweight Champion.
Within boxing die-hards, he’s as revered for his participation in war as a college football coach claims to be.
But for Jacobs in particular, who had long scoffed at the challenge before accepting it, it’s all about what follows — so long as he stops Rosado, as he’s heavily favored to do. Rightfully so, as Jacobs has a case as the third best middleweight of the 2010s behind Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, both of whom he nearly defeated in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
For the Brownsville, Brooklyn-made boxer, this is to be a stage setter for one more run at a world championship before he walks away. He’s said as much in various interviews.
Being regarded as one of the toughest challengers for both Golovkin and Alvarez, Jacobs has maintained that while this fight with Rosado, 34, won’t elevate his career, it won’t diminish it either. It’s especially true in a COVID time where remaining active is essential. Jacobs is a former two-time World Middleweight Champion, and a consensus elite at both middleweight and super middleweight, where he fought Chavez Jr last year. He knows that a convincing win should return him into the championship picture, even if Rosado is, as he says, “a good gatekeeper.”
That should mean a 2021 bout with the Canelo vs Callum Smith winner, or with Billy Joe Saunders, whom Jacobs says has been avoiding him. But in recent history, unfortunately, the sport doesn’t present the greatest track record of providing fans and media the fights they should see.
If Jacobs has it his way, his Friday night will leave more answers than questions. But if Rosado has it his way, and pulls off what would be the unquestioned boxing upset of the year, we’ll have a slew of new questions, including ones we mostly haven’t allowed ourselves to consider.