In 2011, Danny Jacobs, a four-time Golden Glover, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Then 23, he went from being an elite boxer to walking with a cane to being paralyzed from the waist down – in a matter of weeks.
“At that very moment, I wasn’t immortal,” Jacobs said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Growing up, you always think you’re Superman. You always think you’re invincible. To me, that was a wake-up call that I need to start taking my health a little more serious – and I was a superb world-class athlete. In my opinion, I was the healthiest guy I could be. It goes a little bit further than that obviously with the diet and your off time. So I had to alter my diet completely as a whole and I’m doing very well.”
If being middleweight champion of the world is “doing very well,” then yes, Jacobs is doing very well. Jacobs had surgery to remove a tumor from his spine, received 25 radiation treatments and had to relearn how to walk.
“It was very hard,” Jacobs said. “In the back of my mind, I still hear the doctor’s words: ‘Your career’s over. You’re never going to be fight again.’”
That doctor was wrong.
“(He’s) actually my best friend now,” Jacobs said. “He came to my last fight.”
While recovering, Jacobs was told to perform physical therapy and not go to the gym. So, naturally, he went immediately to the gym.
“That was my safe haven,” Jacobs said. “That’s where I felt the most comfortable. I figured if I was going to have any shot of getting back into the boxing gym, it was going to be by going to the gym every day.”
In his first fight back, Jacobs knocked out Josh Luteran in October 2012 – in the first round.
“Oh, man – unreal,” said Jacobs, who entered the ring that night to Kanye West’s Stronger. “Unreal. It was so surreal. . . . It just all happened so fast. I don’t think I got a chance to enjoy it until I got back home and got a chance to see the fight and embrace my family.”
Jacobs (30-1, 27 KOs) has since won seven more fights. He won the middleweight championship after beating Jarrod Fletcher in August 2014 and has successfully defended his belt twice since then. He’ll defend it a third time against Peter Quillin (32-0-1, 23 KOs) at the Barclays Center on December 5.
Jacobs, who made his professional debut in 2007 as the undercard to the Mayweather/Hatton fight, was asked about good old Floyd, who has allegedly retired.
Jacobs isn’t buying it.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “Fifty’s the number. I think at that point, it doesn’t matter who he fights. Personally, I think a fight with him and Keith Thurman would be ultimately the best way to go out.”
What about Triple-G, Gennady Golovkin?
“Triple-G is 100 times bigger than he is,” Jacobs said. “Triple-G is hundred times stronger than he is. No matter how skillful Floyd Mayweather is, the power would be the difference. Huge difference. So I don’t think he should go out with that type of a bang, but a guy that is respected in his weight division – and Keith Thurman is that main guy.”
Even more so than Manny Pacquiao?
“I believe so,” Jacobs said. “I don’t think anyone wants to see a rematch.”