Two Danny’s, two cards, one weekend and lessons for fighters young and old. This weekend was highlighted by two fight cards following the Thanksgiving Holiday. DAZN returned to Miami this past Friday to feature moved up former middleweight champion Danny Jacobs in his fight with veteran Philly fighter Gabriel Rosado. While I was critical of the matchmaking and not interested in the card I watched anyway and press my fingers to the keys to write about a main event I nearly skipped. Jacobs is without a doubt at a crossroads in his career as it would seem he reached the crest of the wave and is now breaking toward the shore. This past Friday was his chance to show his relevance and worthiness at 168 lbs. and most observers have come away unimpressed. A simple sleuthing through the first page on a Google search shows “controversial split decision”, “survives scare”, “boring”, and the fight has a 57% controversy rating on eyeonthering.com at my time of publishing. I myself scored the bout 114-114 so in between the three judges at ringside who had the contest scored 115-113 twice for Jacobs and once for Rosado. The forum that I frequent at boxingnew24.com was fervently entrenched in the notion that Rosado was outright robbed of a victory that he deserved.
I scored the fight an even draw however I believe there are seven rounds you can give to Rosado but not seven for Jacobs. This is not to say that either man had a great performance but the pressure was really on Jacobs to show his superiority and get a convincing victory. Rosado as the longshot underdog was not expected to have much for Jacobs and he did his part in fighting a very patient and disciplined fight. Jacobs showed a lack of fire in the ring and was content just to score in select moments and retreat back into a waiting game of a fight. Jacobs wisely turned it back on in the final round to win the round and likely secured his victory (I cannot find the official cards posted to verify this). According to DAZN’s statistics neither man landed 80 punches in twelve total rounds so they averaged about six per round and combined for 158 punches total. The fight resembled a sparring session in pace and urgency. While I am not going to call this fight a robbery, it is unanimous that Jacobs lost the battle of public perception. This was his chance to show that he deserves a fight with championship fighters like Caleb Plant or David Benavidez or even a star like Gennady Golovkin. However, in what was viewed as a soft touch may have just become the landmine that ruined any interest in fans seeing him again. A one sided victory over Rosado would likely have propelled Jacobs into a big fight but now its more likely he may have to take a big risk to earn the fight he is searching for. If he sleep walks against the very best at 168 he is not getting his hand raised and may not hear the final bell either.
ESPN+ took us to London, England Saturday afternoon as Daniel Dubois took on Joe Joyce in a high stakes contest in the heavyweight division. In the exact opposite of the DAZN fight I was very fired up for this match and featured it in my November Schedule Part II article. Dubois entered as the WBO’s number two heavyweight behind Oleksandr Usyk and ahead of former WBO champions like Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz. Standing in the opposite corner was the hard punching Olympic Silver Medalist Joe Joyce who entered with his own undefeated record and WBO ranking at number eleven. Those backing Dubois saw his knockout power and athletic prowess and favored the intangibles of the younger man even if he was still proving himself. Those favoring Joyce pointed to his Olympic pedigree and deeper resume of opposition as a professional fighter and went by more of what they knew in the case of Joyce and less of what they could predict in Dubois. Early on the fight was interesting as Dubois and Joyce started off patiently in respect of either’s power. Dubois looked to be more athletic as Joyce seemed to be very deliberate in his movements sometimes looking crude and uncoordinated. Dubois was varied in his offense and like Evander Holyfield he fought in spurts of compact power punches. Joyce to his credit rode the force of the blows and only once or twice seemed really bothered by the attacks. I had Dubois jump out to an early lead on my scorecard that he maintained for the nine completed rounds.
While Dubois continued to chop away at the sturdy Joyce, Joyce remained patient and content just jabbing and waiting. As an observer there was a feeling that Joyce was building up to something as he never really opened up offensively despite working his jab over and over. What did not seem like the damaging type of jab employed by a Wladimir Klitschko or Larry Holmes, Joyce’s remained constant and accurate. Without masking it behind feints or varying the speed or arc of delivery he just seemed to land the same jab over and over. Dubois just could not get out of the way of the left hand and swelling began to form around his left eye. Scoring the fight was another interesting challenge. Do you favor the flashy work of Dubois or the overwhelming and constant jab of Joyce. The judges were divided with official scoring having Joyce up by three points and Dubois up by one point and by a wide five points. I had the fight 86-85 in favor of Dubois but the momentum had continued to shift to Joyce as the fight reached its conclusion.
The tenth round began with drama as Joyce was coming on and it felt like Dubois’s lead was evaporating away with only nine minutes to go. Dubois’ eye was beginning to look terrible as his vision was becoming more and more of a question mark. Joyce continued to peck away at the left eye until Dubois finally relented and took a knee that he never rose from. The young puncher took his count and surrendered to Joyce after taking a hard jab to the swollen eye and decided it was enough. Reactions from former fighters like David Haye and Tony Bellew as well as current fighters like Tyson Fury have questioned Dubois’ heart and toughness. He entered as the next big thing in the division and left with about a five month recovery time and his resolve called into question. Will he be the next Vitali Klitschko who quit in a big step up fight only to rebound and reinvent himself? Or will he be another victim in the long list of fighters who had the talent but just couldn’t take that talent across the finish line? He took a big jump up in class and I feel this was a needed experience. He got near the top of the heap in the WBO rankings but did not win the fights to get him there. Sure the loss to Joyce has spoiled his hopes for a big money fight with Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury and a chance to wear title belts. However, given the dynamic abilities of Joshua and Fury and especially with Joshua’s power a fight with them at the current experience level would have been an even bigger disaster. If the eye can properly recover I would like to see what Dubois can learn from this first loss and move forward.