by Cliff Rold
The fights are happening.
Already this year, we’ve seen Peter Quillin-Andy Lee, Gennady Golovkin-David Lemieux, and Miguel Cotto-Saul Alvarez. Next year, we might see Golovkin-Alvarez and Lee versus Billy Joe Saunders is only two weeks away.
This week, we get Quillin facing down with Brooklyn rival Daniel Jacobs.
We are getting a series of top ten clashes in the middleweight division. This field might not make anyone forget the reigns of Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins. It probably won’t ever compare to the deep reservoir of talent at 160 between those two titans featuring James Toney, Julian Jackson, Mike McCallum, Chris Eubank, and Nigel Benn.
It doesn’t have to.
In order for this era to carve its space, it simply has to makes the fights, the memories, amongst each other that it can. Whether or not the bridge can be crossed between the various promotional factions to eventually have a truly culminating showdown remains to be seen. For now, Jacobs-Quillin is one of those fights that can increase that demand.
It has the makings of a good one.
Let’s go the report card.
Title: WBA Middleweight (2014-Present, 2 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 159 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Brooklyn, New York
Record: 30-1, 27 KO, 1 KOBY
Rankings: #5 (BoxingScene, TBRB, BoxRec), #6 (Ring), #9 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-1, 3 KO, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions Faced: 3 (Ishe Smith UD10; Dmitry Pirog TKO by 5; Sergio Mora TKO2)
Previous Titles: WBO Middleweight (2012-14, 3 Defenses)
Weight: 159 lbs.
Hails from: Brooklyn, New York
Record: 32-0-1, 23 KO
Rankings: #2 (BoxingScene, TBRB), #3 (Ring, BoxRec), #4 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-0, 1 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 1 (Winky Wright UD10; Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam UD12; Andy Lee D12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Jacobs B; Quillin B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Jacobs B; Quillin B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Jacobs B; Quillin B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Jacobs B; Quillin B+
Jacobs and Quillin come into the bout fairly evenly matched, both with strengths and weaknesses that could play into each other’s hands. Quillin might be the better raw athlete and shows that in superior bursts speed. Jacobs offsets what deficit exists with better technique. Of the two, he is the more polished. Quillin leaves himself open when he jabs while Jacobs is regularly in position, hands held high, head moving.
Until it isn’t.
Both men can be hit. Jacobs has appeared to be the lesser of the two in taking shots. He was run over by Pirog in his lone loss, thrown off by the Russian’s awkward, fast-handed attack. Jacobs was also in big trouble in his fight. After dropping Sergio Mora in the first round of their bout, he got greedy in pursuing a stoppage and was dropped by a Mora left hand. While it’s true any fighter can be caught right by the right guy (see: Sven Ottke-Anthony Mundine), being hurt badly by Mora sends up red flags about the chin of Jacobs.
Quillin was also down earlier this year, but it took one of the better punchers in the division to do it in Lee. That was after Lee took two trips to the canvas. In terms of power, Jacobs has the better knockout percentage but he arguably hasn’t defeated the same caliber of foe. He is the sharper, more pinpoint puncher and to date has at least been the better finisher. Quillin seems to have the heavier hands, but he lets guys off the hook.
Could Quillin find that to be a failing Saturday? It was against Lee. Lee survived and earned a draw. Jacobs has the boxing acumen to win rounds around knockdowns if he has to dust himself off.
The chin and durability of Jacobs is the big difference in intangibles. His mark might be lower but the character he’s shown in overcoming cancer and returning to form in undeniable. For Quillin the question is about gas tank. After a long layoff, he couldn’t make the 160 lb. limit against Lee and didn’t have as much energy in the second half of the fight. He’s made weight twice since. Was the Lee struggle at least partly a product of rust? Having made the weight twice in a row, is he back in the sort of condition he’ll need to be if this goes rounds?
It’s often a sucker bet to look at the outcome of a single shot and pick a winner but Mora-Jacobs looms large in the mind’s eye. Jacobs can do a lot of things right all night, but he’s going to get caught at some point. Given Quillin’s more raw approach, when he lands it might not be something Jacobs sees coming. Can Jacobs endure?
The answer from this corner is no. This might be the sort of scrap where both men touch the deck but Quillin will shake it off easier and remain a physical threat. At some point, the stronger and less refined man will outfight the more skilled. The pick is Quillin by stoppage sometime in the second half of the fight.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2015: 86-24
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]