It wasn't the impressive showing he sought. Still, Danny Jacobs was happy to be back in the ring, and to be an easy winner over an outmatched Luis Arias.
Jacobs dominated on Saturday night in a middleweight bout as lopsided as a fight can get.
In his return to the ring since an outstanding performance in a loss to champion Gennady Golovkin in March, Jacobs easily swept the judges' cards, though he often was frustrated by the holding tactics and unorthodox style of Arias. Seeking a knockout in the final rounds, Jacobs punished Arias in the 10th, 11th and 12th, and earned a knockdown that looked more like a slip in the 11th.
"I wanted to impress the fans and put on a good show," Jacobs said. "I hurt him early and once I knew I could hurt him, I got a little more aggressive."
Jacobs, a former world champion and one of New York's most popular fighters, is 33-2 with 29 KOs. He is hopeful of another shot at a title in 2018, though Golovkin will be busy with a rematch with Canelo Alvarez after their draw in September.
Jacobs, who overcame bone cancer earlier in his career and is nicknamed "Miracle Man," held the WBA belt for two years. He remained a force in the division even after his close defeat to Triple G.
Next up could be either David Lemieux of Canada or Billy Joe Saunders of England, who battle next month in Canada for the WBO middleweight title.
"I want to stay active, we have major plans," the 30-year-old Jacobs said. "We are going to invade Canada so they can see my face, and I will call them out later."
Arias, 18-1 of Milwaukee, annoyed Jacobs at times with his style, but Jacobs never was in anything but control.
Most of that aggression came late as Jacobs searched for the shot that would stop Arias. That punch never came, but it didn't matter.
Wearing trunks with the name of his young son, Nate, sewn on the belt, Jacobs entered the ring with a grin, and kept smiling throughout introductions. He was grimacing at points during the fight, but only because of the way Arias was carrying himself.
When Arias attempted to hug Jacobs after the 12th round, Jacobs refused.
"We are in there to hurt each other, but it took me a couple minutes to get it out of my system," Jacobs said.