John A. MacDonald assesses the keys to victory for Daniel Jacobs ahead of his intriguing super-middleweight clash with John Ryder at the Alexandra Palace in London this weekend…
Getting The Band Back Together.
The good news for Daniel Jacobs is that one of the factors most imperative to his success has already been implemented. The New Yorker has teamed with Andre Rozier once again. Jacobs had his greatest success under the tutelage of Rozier, winning the WBA middleweight title and pushing Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez extremely close.
Jacobs and Rozier had worked together since the fighter was a teenager, but parted company after the Canelo defeat. Allegedly, the dispute centred on money. Jacobs wanted to pay Rozier less than the percentage of his purse that had been agreed. The split was acrimonious.
This is boxing, such occurrences are not uncommon. Life went on for both men. Jacobs teamed up with Fareed Samad and moved up to super-middleweight. The results were underwhelming.
Jacobs’ first fight at 168lbs saw him force Julio Cesar Chavez Jr to retire after the fifth round. At this stage, Junior is simply a noteworthy surname rather than a boxer.
His next bout was against Gabriel Rosado. Jacobs was a big favourite ahead of the fight, as he should have been. Rosado is tough and as brave as they come, but invariably falls short at the highest level. On the night, Rosado produced a spirited performance and was unlucky to find himself on the wrong end of a split-decision.
It is possible that at 35, Jacobs’ best days are behind him and that his new weight class does not suit. However, it may just be the case that the ‘Miracle Man’ was just unable to motivate himself for such bouts, having previously faced elite fighters at 160lbs.
If the American is still able to produce the level of performance he did against Golovkin and Canelo, Rozier is the man to coax it out of Jacobs.
Throw With Ryder.
Against Gabriel Rosado, Jacobs was far too passive at times. Rather than attempting to counter his rival, Jacobs, was happy to cover up, or evade when Rosado was punching. Jacobs would wait until the onslaught had ended, reset then launch his own attack.
The tactic almost cost him the fight. Rosado outworked Jacobs for large portions the contest and nearly did enough to win the bout. Ultimately, Jacobs got the benefit of the doubt. He may not be as fortunate tonight. The UK has become one of the worst countries in the world for an away fighter to get a fair shake on the cards. Jacobs must be aware of this. There is no guarantee that close rounds will go in his favour.
If he is to wait for Ryder’s attack to subside, he may well be waiting some time. Ryder’s lead right hand is like a three-year-old that has consumed too much sugar: in perpetual motion. As with said toddler, not every movement poses a threat of danger, but it is tricky to differentiate between those that do and those that do not.
Jacobs will have to take his chances until he is able to determine which of his opponent’s lead hand movements are feints and which are punches.
Patience will not be a virtue. It is vital that the American establishes control early on. Crowds should not impact scoring, but they do. If he can silence the crowd, Jacobs’ chance will increase exponentially. To achieve that, Jacobs must let his hands go.
Jab To The Body.
Despite possessing a six-inch reach advantage, Callum Smith failed to establish his jab against John Ryder. Jacobs’ wingspan is only marginally longer than that of his opponent, he may struggle to win the battle of lead hands.
The problem Ryder poses is that his head is rarely static, as the Londoner utilises lateral movement to evade punches, bobbing his head like a ‘90s raver, to a beat only he can hear. Jacobs chances of landing his jab increase if he aims for a larger target: the body.
Ryder will look to get inside and sink shots to Jacobs’ ribs, the American’s night will be easier if he can keep Ryder at bay, and a stiff jab to the chest would enable him to maintain distance.
Interestingly, Jacobs has not faced a southpaw as a professional. Given that Jacobs had a decorated amateur career, he would have boxed many left-handers in the unpaid ranks, but the fact he is yet to fight one as a professional is suspicious. Some fighters can’t stand port-siders, is Jacobs one of those?
If Jacobs has an aversion to southpaws, the importance of winning the battle of the jabs becomes even more vital.