By Robert Aaron Contreras
For the time being championship belts aren’t on the mind of Daniel Jacobs—only money signs.
After finding his place in the middleweight division, Jacobs (35-3, 29 KO) is meeting Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (51-3-1, 33 KO) in a super middleweight contest that serves as the main event of a nine-fight DAZN billing on Dec. 20 from the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
An inspiring battle with cancer behind him, Jacobs in recent years settled into middleweight purgatory. Clearly a notch above the B-level ilk, sparking Peter Quillin and decisioning Sergiy Derevyanchenko, but after run-ins with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, is sequestered just below the proper, divisional elite.
In May, Jacobs gave away a points loss to Canelo. Following a slow start, the American switch-hitter didn’t pick up Canelo’s weakness for southpaws until it was too late, ultimately losing by unanimous decision. Two years earlier, Jacobs ran things even tighter against Golovkin. Fighting conservatively, in addition to longer intervals in the southpaw stance, he pushed Golovkin the entire distance for the first time in the Kazakstan’s career.
Now 2-2 dating back to 2017, Jacobs had a choice of two paths to take: continue nipping at the heels of the divisional immortals or cash out against a big name with a subpar game. He chose the latter. And he did so wisely, setting his crosshairs on Chavez Jr. The Mexican puncher has a legendary bloodline, regularly raking in six-figure paydays for it, but better known for undedicated training, partying his way out of the 160-pound class.
Sharing a common opponent in Canelo, Chavez took on his countryman in 2017. The results were putrid. The fight had the air of a sparring match. Chavez rarely threw anything with force and Canelo didn’t bother expending the energy to do anything but cruise to a shutout, decision victory.
Chavez, 33, banked in on his father’s name from the beginning of his pro career. But fans didn’t mind once they saw his murderous shoveling attack to the body. He was a welcome addition to pay-per-view shows out of Las Vegas and New York before spearheading his own cards around Texas.
His peak, though, would come in 2012. Challenging Sergio Martinez for middleweight supremacy, Chavez floored the defending champ in the final round, but was far behind on the scorecards. He never made the 160-pound mark again. A two-fight series with brawler Brian Vera showed Chavez’s true level. Then a jump to light heavyweight left him cracked open by Andrzej Fonfara.
Just three wins over the last four years, Chavez has had a couple battles transpire over the last few months—just one however actually took place in the ring. Three months ago he pulverized the unheralded Evert Brazo at light heavyweight, picking up an easy first-round knockout with a swooping left hand to the liver. But the Mexican celebrity’s biggest test came knocking on his doorstep in November when he the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) demanded he comply with a random drug test. Suspiciously, but not out of character, that was out of the question for Chavez and he was suspended by the NSAC.
Lucky for Chavez and promoter Eddie Hearn, who is backing the show on Friday, the commission in Arizona decided not to recognize Nevada’s ruling and the show goes on.
Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Cristofer Rosales, WBC flyweight title
In chief-support, Julio Cesar Martinez (14-1, 11 KO) is ready to lift the title everyone thought he already won back in August in a tilt with Charlie Edwards.
A buzzing London crowd saw Martinez scalp Edwards, hacking away at the defending champion’s head and midsection. In the third round, Edwards went down to a knee but Martinez had one more body shot for him. The punch was rightfully called illegal. So the results were changed to a no-contest.
The punch, to a downed opponent, was illegal as they come but the 27 unanswered bullets that sent Edwards to the canvas convinced Edwards to vacate the title, citing weight issues, opting not to tussle with Martinez again.
With the WBC flyweight strap up for grabs, Martinez takes on Cristofer Rosales (29-4, 20 KO), who last year was dethroned by Edwards.
The 24-year-old Martinez got his big break in 2019. Though it should be mentioned years ago he defeated former champion Edgar Sosa, who would retire following the loss. This year Martinez has been on a British killing spree. First crushing the previously-undefeated Andrew Selby then bashing Edwards. It was another left hook to the body that decked Selby, this one legal, equally brutal, and makes him one of the most intimidating hitters in boxing’s little-weights.
Rosales, 25, is another lethal puncher, and fights out of Nicaragua (cousin to one Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez).
He held the green flyweight belt in 2018, going over to Japan to unseat the highly-favored Daigo Higa. The champion was undefeated and had finished every opponent by knockout. But he couldn’t match the length of Rosales, watching his corner throw in the towel midway through Round 9 after severe punishment.
One defense followed, over renowned Olympian Paddy Barnes, before being outpointed by Edwards. A seventh-round knockout in August over a palooka, the 29-9-3 Eliecer Quezada, put Rosales back in the win column and on the title stage.
Martinez’s recent work was still enough to open as a -250 betting favorite.