By Jake Donovan
Despite rumors to the contrary, the only established portion of the July 30 event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York is the headlining act itself.
Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton have already agreed to terms for their upcoming featherweight title clash, but the show – which is likely to air live on Showtime – has yet to be formally announced. There are varying factors involved as to why that is the case, reasons that include the hunt for a feasible chief support.
One such bout rumored to land the slot was Brooklyn’s own Daniel Jacobs in a middleweight title defense versus former beltholder Andy Lee. Many in the industry have suggested the bout was a done deal but simply in need of a home, assuming that Jacobs would automatically make his third straight appearance at his home venue.
To date, promoter Lou DiBella has vehemently denied such placement or even confirmed the status of said matchup. His claims were supported by one of the suggested participants.
“A lot of rumours flying around, just to let you know, as of yet, there's been no offer to fight Danny Jacobs July 30th,” Lee (34-3-1, 24KOs) announced through his verified social media account on Saturday.
Neither boxer has yet fought in 2016, as both have out of the ring since separate ring appearances last December.
Jacobs (31-1, 28KOs) capped a three-fight 2015 campaign with a bang, punching fellow Brooklyn-based middleweight Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin into submission just 85 seconds into their highly anticipated crosstown showdown at Barclays.
Two weeks later and across the Atlantic, Lee conceded his portion of the middleweight crown in a 12-round decision defeat at the hands of unbeaten mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders. The bout marked the first ever middleweight title fight between boxers from traveling communities, although the pre-fight hype far exceeded the action (or lack thereof) in the ring.
Jacobs has racked up 11 consecutive knockouts since his lone loss – a 5th round stoppage versus Dmitry Pirog in July ’10. The last nine have come since his triumphant ring return after overcoming a near-fatal battle with osteosarcoma.
However, he’s fought just three rounds worth of ring time since a 12th round stoppage of Caleb Truax last April. Prior to the win over Quillin, Jacobs traded opening round knockdowns with Sergio Mora before dropping him again in scoring a 2nd round injury-induced knockout win.
The idea of a title defense versus Lee has been floated seemingly all of 2016 thus far, but has yet to move beyond the suggestion stage.
If in fact a pre-arranged deal is not already in place, Jacobs’ next option – if he wants to keep his belt – could very well be a title consolidation bout with Gennady Golovkin. The unbeaten, unified titlist from Kazakhstan is fresh off of a two-round destruction of overmatched mandatory challenger Dominic Wade, which took place one week ago in Inglewood, California.
Among the belts in Golovkin’s collection is the World Boxing Council (WBC) interim title, which guarantees him next in line for the winner of the May 7 catchweight bout between World middleweight champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and former 140-pound titlist-turned-welterweight contender Amir “King” Khan.
Alvarez was granted the optional title defense on the condition that – with a win – he would immediately enter negotiations with Golovkin, with the two mandated to work out a deal by no later than May 22 (or perhaps May 23 if pushed to the first available business day).
Should the May 7 winner choose to go in a different direction, Golovkin will be named WBC champion by default. In that event, the World Boxing Association will step in and enforce a title consolidation bout between Golovkin – its “Super” champion – and “Regular” titlist Jacobs.
However, that fight could eventually hit a political snag. Golovkin is bound to an exclusive contract with American cable giant HBO, while Jacobs has firmly pledged his allegiance to Showtime, although the Al Haymon-advised middleweight has also appeared on Spike TV and ESPN as part of the Premier Boxing Champions series.
All of that only serves as further motivation to get Jacobs back in the ring, or at least committed to a fight versus Lee or another qualifying contender before mandated otherwise.
For now, event handlers are focusing its time and energy on the fight in place.
Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18KOs) – who has won belts in three weight divisions - will make the second defense of the featherweight title he claimed in a 12-round victory over Abner Mares in their non-stop thriller last August in Los Angeles. His first title defense came this past February, scoring a 5th round stoppage of former 122-pound titlist Kiko Martinez in fun – albeit one-sided – slugfest in Anaheim, Calif.
The win over Martinez came hours before Frampton (22-0, 14KOs) gave himself a late birthday gift with a split decision win over longtime rival Scott Quigg in their super bantamweight title unification bout in Manchester, England. The fighting pride of Belfast, N. Ireland withstood a late rally from the Brit to earn a close decision win to add a second belt to his collection.
With the second title also came a second mandatory challenger. Pressed with having to face either Guillermo Rigondeaux – the supremely gifted unbeaten southpaw from Cuba who is still regarded as the World (lineal) super bantamweight champion – or Japan’s Shingo Wake, Frampton instead to sever all ties with the division, vacating both belts in favor of a move up in weight to challenge Santa Cruz.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow him on his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2