HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Daniel Jacobs wishes he knew before he fought Dmitry Priog what he knows now.
Jacobs was unbeaten when he entered the ring to fight Pirog for a vacant middleweight title last July. The Brooklynite left the ring the victim of a one-punch knockout in the fifth round.
The fact that Jacobs’ grandmother died days before the fight weighed heavily on him and probably affected his focus. There was another problem, though: His defense, or lack thereof.
And Jacobs decided to do something about the flaw: He hired Freddie Roach to train him. The two have been working together for about a month.
“Boxing is a sport where you never stop learning,” said Jacobs, fights Robert Kliewer on the Saul Alvarez-Matthew Hatton card Saturday in Anaheim, Calif. “I had some defensive things that I needed to tighten up. As an amateur, I always blew guys out. I was always offensive. I never worried about having my guard up.
“There are certain things that Freddie and I have worked on. I’m very excited and forward to the future. With the work, I’m doing, I definitely think I’m going to be a world champion.”
Roach believes that Jacobs wasn’t ready for Pirog, saying “they went from D opponents right to an A opponent. They skipped the middle.” He likes what he sees from the former amateur star, though.
Jacobs (21-1, 18 knockouts) didn’t work as hard as Roach would’ve liked from the start but, Roach said, “we’re slowly getting that out of him.”
And all the physical tools are there.
“He definitely has a lot of potential. Speed, power, everything … when he wants to show it,” Roach said.
One important question is whether Jacobs can bounce back from the devastating knockout. As Roach said, “Some guys roll over and die and some get better.”
Jacobs says he’s in the latter group. He already won his comeback fight, stopping journeyman Jesse Orta in five rounds, and faces another journeyman in Kliwer (11-12-1, 5 KOs) on Saturday at the Honda Center.
Someone suggested that victories in such fights will rebuild his confidence after the Pirog disaster.
“What they don’t know is that my confidence is already built,” he said with a smile. “… It did feel good to get a win (against Orta) after that loss. It wasn’t a regular loss; it was a devastating loss. Some people can’t handle stuff like that but I got right back on track.
“That was a little bump in the road. Now I’m going to go where I’m supposed to be.”
Could that include another shot at Pirog?
“Deep down I feel like I’m the better fighter and I can beat him,” Jacobs said. “One day, hopefully, when we’re both complete fihters, we’ll get a rematch.”
Photo / Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions