Daniel Jacobs’ super middleweight debut mirrored that of what took place all through fight week—making the most of a messy situation.
The former two-time middleweight titlist returned to the win column in anti-climactic fashion, settling for an injury stoppage after Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. quit in his corner after five rounds Friday evening at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
A broken nose was cited as the cause for the stoppage, with referee Wes Melton forced to stop the contest at the end of round five. Neither the excuse nor his performance sat well with the capacity crowd of more than 10,000, several of whom saw fit to shower the ring with flying debris in stark protest.
“I don’t know why they won’t let me enjoy my victory, baby,” Jacobs exclaimed after the DAZN-headlining affair, doing his best to talk over a chorus of boos.
The fight was preceded by two months worth of a massive mess created by Chavez Jr., beginning with his evading a random drug test as ordered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). The bout was originally due to take place in Las Vegas, but was relocated after the second-generation boxer was hit with a temporary suspension by the Nevada commission.
It became the matter of a lengthy legal battle, with Chavez Jr. having to take to court, where he was able to secure a Temporary Restraining Order on Tuesday in order to permit the bout to go through as planned.
Then came Thursday’s weigh-in, where Chavez Jr. technically made weight but only after renegotiating with Jacobs from the originally scheduled super middleweight limit to a 173-pound catchweight.
Chavez Jr. hit the scales at 172.7 pounds, but looked closer to cruiserweight once he entered the ring on Friday evening. He was considerably larger than Jacobs, who did his job at the scale in weighing 167.9 pounds and who admittedly felt the effect of facing a significantly bigger foe.
“I just wanted to get acclimated to the punches,” admitted Jacobs, who took a couple of rounds to get untracked. “It was my first time fighting… this was the biggest I’ve ever been in my career. I wanted to make sure I could take the punches.”
The early rounds landed in favor of the blue-striped-blonde-hair Chavez Jr., who settled in once the opening bell sounded. The second-generation boxer—a former middleweight titlist—scored with left hooks in the early rounds, while Jacobs patiently boxed from the outside.
Jacobs ended each of the opening two rounds the same way—checking with new trainer Fareed Samad to see if he won the frames. Samad implored his charge to not worry about winning rounds but rather sticking to the game plan. Jacobs did just that in round three, utilizing lateral movement while Chavez Jr. stood center ring in search of an opening. A mix of boxing and a flashy body attack was offered by Jacobs, darting inside and landing in combination downstairs.
Chavez Jr charged forward towards rounds end, but not landing much of consequence once working his way inside. Jacobs fought at close quarters at the start of round four, scoring with right hands landing around Chavez Jr's high guard. The tide briefly shifted midway through, as Chavez Jr. pushed Jacobs into a corner but again not landing much. The final 30 seconds saw both boxers land left hooks, Chavez Jr. upstairs and Jacobs both to the body and up top in capitalizing on his massive speed advantage.
Round five saw Chavez Jr. open with a complaint to referee Wes Melton of fouls, though instructed to just fight. He did just that, connecting with a left hook that briefly stunned Jacobs.
It was the last shining moment that would ultimately end in disgrace.
In the very venue where Hall of Fame former three-division titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. suffered the final defeat of his career—and with the Mexican legend seated ringside—Chavez Jr. decided his night was done after five rounds. There was confusion in the corner as to the cause, although the final verdict seemed to be that he was unable to breathe through his nose in prompting the stoppage which he claimed was caused by a headbutt.
The official ending came at 3:00 of round five.
Chavez Jr. raced out of the ring, as disappointed patrons hurled objects in the direction of the ring out of sheer disgust. It remains anyone's guess as to what's next.
The loss is his second in three fight, falling to 51-4-1 (33KOs). Any other boxer without his background would be considered done and dusted. That should have been the case long ago for Chavez Jr., but his ability to still draw a crowd will likely result in at least one more circus coming to a new town.
Jacobs picks up his first win in more than a year, his arm last raised in a 12-round win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko last October to begin his second tour as a middleweight titlist. Friday’s win was bittersweet, both in dedicating the night to the memory of his late friend and former junior middleweight Patrick Day, while also having to navigate through boos and much worse at night’s end.
“I just want to savor this victory; [the fans] won’t let me, though I know they don’t blame me for this,” said Jacobs, who improves to 36-3 (30KOs). “I did my part.”
Jacobs conceded the middleweight belt in his first attempted defense, a competitive but clear points loss to Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in their three-belt unification clash. The bout was his last ever at 160, although he hoped Friday would truly serve as his super middleweight debut.
There’s always next time.
“It’s hard to tell,” Jacobs said of how well he can expect to do at the weight based on Friday’s performance. “I was in there with a cruiserweight tonight. It’s just a matter of me acclimating and moving in the right direction.
“I want to fight the biggest names in the division. I want to fight them all. Honestly, I want to fight (undefeated middleweight titlist) Jermall Charlo or a (Gennady Golovkin) rematch. If I can’t get that, then I’ll settle for the super middleweight division. There’s Callum Smith, there’s Billy Joe Saunders and other champions.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox