For Daniel Jacobs, the hardest part about fighting Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. might be just making sure the Mexican fighter successfully steps inside the ring come Dec. 20 in Phoenix without making any mistakes along the way.
The unpredictable Chavez Jr. (51-3-1, 33 KOs), who made his return in August after a 27-month layoff, is still facing fallback of his missed VADA test from last month, and he’s one hiccup away from letting the fight slip through his hands.
Jacobs (35-3, 29 KOs) will be making his super middleweight debut on DAZN, and he’s coming in confident even though he lost to Canelo Alvarez in a competitive decision in May.
“I’m training for a challenge, but if you want for me to be completely honest, this fight is not going to be the biggest challenge I’ve had in my career,” Jacobs told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “I don’t think that’s going to be the case. The only challenges I’m going to face is adjusting to the super middleweight division and maybe feeling the power, and going body-to-body and actually feeling the physique of a super middleweight. But he’s more like a light heavyweight. I have the skillset and ability to move forward, and move back. It’s a perfect fight for me at the perfect time.”
Jacobs, a two-time middleweight titleholder, has also split with longtime trainer Andre Rozier and bestowed coaching services onto Fareed Samad, who’s trained Zab Judah as well as Devin Haney in the past.
In September, BoxingScene.com’s Thomas Hauser reported that Jacobs and Rozier were at odds over money.
“There were some small differences. There isn’t too much I want to talk about because I love Andre and have the utmost respect for him,” said Jacobs. “It was just time for the transition to happen. It came at the best time. I don’t want to get into depth because I respect him and I don’t like causing confusion, rumors or gossip, but at the same time, I wish him the very best with him and his fighters and everything that he does.”
In a recent interview, Rozier was a bit more direct on the situation.
“Danny has to do what he has to do, I’ve got nothing to say about Danny. As far as I’m concerned, I’m done with him. He hasn’t been good to me. I treated him like he was like my son. Sometimes you have to let them go,” Rozier told Michael Woods of Ring TV.
“Money changes some people, not all people, some remain the same. I never wish any bad to Danny, love the kid, but I don’t like him anymore. Now, no prima donnas allowed.”
Jacobs and Rozier are in the process of working out their differences and a reunion at some point in the future should not be ruled out quite yet, a source with direct knowledge of the relationship told BoxingScene.com.
It won’t be the first time the duo have been at odds after a loss. In 2011, Jacobs left Rozier after he lost to Dmitry Pirog and went on to seek the services of Freddie Roach.
“I am fully in control of my career and things that happen,” said Jacobs. “I’m just happy to have that liberty to move how I want to move. I have the best team, and now that I have this new trainer, I’m looking forward to learning and implementing new things … It’s a new chapter. I’m excited.”
Jacobs will lean on Samad to make the transition to 168 a smooth one. For the Alvarez fight, Jacobs was fined $250,000 per pound in penalties when he weighed 3.6 pounds over the 170-pound rehydration weight limit on the afternoon of the fight.
“In order to be one of the best, I now have a clean slate and new platform to do so at 168,” he said. “The Canelo fight was the last straw for me at 160. The things that I put my body through in that camp was the most extreme I’d gone through in a very long time — and then I had to weigh-in the next day, too. I tried to play it off as much as I can, and I hate making excuses. I outgrew the division.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at [email protected].