By Ivan G. Goldman
Daniel Jacobs’ career took a huge leap Saturday night on Showtime. No question about that.
But just because Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin didn’t make it to the second round, that doesn’t mean Quillin was nothing. He got caught by a big right hand from a big hitter. When you get two tough middleweights in the same ring, these things can happen.
It’s tiresome when some folks assume one loss erases an entire career. “Miracle Man” Jacobs would be the first to agree. He was ahead on all three cards back in 2012 when Dmitry Pirog stopped him in round five. You can bet plenty of “experts” figured Jacobs had been “exposed” as a second-rater. Jacobs didn’t believe them. He won his next eleven bouts, holds the WBA belt and just annihilated a top contender.
Of course Quillin, 32-1-1, 23 KOs, definitely shouldn’t have been prey for that early right hand, but they knew each other’s tendencies, and Jacobs outsmarted him at a crucial moment. When he did, he knew what to do next, which was to finish like a champion.
No, it wasn’t a lucky shot. Jacobs, 28, trained for months to get in that split-second right hand.
Meanwhile Quillin, at age 32, could still come back and be a force in the division. It’s not outside the realm of possibility.
In 1996, heavy-handed David Tua marched out at the opening bell and knocked out John Ruiz with a perfect left hook. Ruiz eventually won the WBA heavyweight title and defeated Kirk Johnson, Hasim Rahman, Fres Oquendo, and Andrew Golota before he retired in 2010 at age 38.
But Ruiz fought in a boring jab-and-grab style that gradually drove fans away. Quillin gives fans more sustained action. He’s a puncher, and punchers with questionable chins are arguably even more exciting.
However, it’s also worth considering that last year Quillin vacated his WBO title rather than accept a career-high $1.4 million purse to defend it against Matt Korobov, a Russian southpaw who fights out of Florida. The reason we were given at the time was that Quillin’s wife had just given birth to their first child.
Korobov then fought southpaw Andy Lee of the UK for the vacant title, and Lee won it by stopping Korobov in the sixth round in Las Vegas. Lee was behind on all three cards.
When Quillin tried to regain his title from Lee, they fought to a draw in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. However, Quillin failed to make weight, and even a victory would not have won him the belt. That half-pound of extra flesh raised questions about Quillin’s commitment to the sport.
Lee, 34-2-1, 24 KOs, still holds the WBO title. He’s set to defend it on Showtime December 19 against Billy Joe Saunders, 22-0, 12 KOs, also of the UK.
The abbreviated brief rumble in Brooklyn Saturday between Jacobs and Quillin took place under the auspices of manager/adviser Al Haymon, who has contracts with both fighters and pretty much controls Showtime boxing these days, though he holds no official title at the network.
It’s no secret that the middleweight division is blazing hot, with Gennady (Triple G) Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez circling each other, and Jacobs looking like a very legitimate opponent for either of them. Canelo and GGG have each got one of the other two major titles, and the WBC is crowding them to sign for a unification match by Friday.
These alphabet politics complicate the middleweight picture, but a bigger complication is the fact that Golovkin and Alvarez campaign on HBO and Haymon and HBO don’t do business together. It’s an ugly situation when business rivalries get in the way of athletic contests that cry out for consummation.
This dismal circumstance is pretty much unique to boxing. Imagine the NFC and AFC teams refusing to play a Super Bowl because their owners didn’t get along. Boxing fans are used to this sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean we should accept it.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.