Two marquee former middleweight champions will duel on Friday night in an intriguing super middleweight showdown in Phoenix, Arizona.
Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs (35-3, 29 KOs) and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (51-3-1, 35 KOs) each lost decisions to Canelo Alvarez and now both are back in the hunt for world titles at 168.
The non-title fight has been marred by controversy related to Chavez Junior’s failure to comply with a required drug test in October. A temporary restraining order against the Nevada State Athletic Commission and a change of venue – from Las Vegas to Phoenix – has enabled the fight to finally take place.
Jacobs says he feels much more comfortable and stronger because he no longer has to to cut down to the middleweight limit of 160 pounds. “It was the actual fact of me cutting the weight and that would make a difference in the previous fights that I’ve been having. So now you’re going to see, in my opinion, a better version of myself and I look forward to that,” Jacobs said this week at the final press conference. “I’m able to be a lot freer when it comes to putting more food and necessary foods in my body. I don’t have to limit myself and most importantly, I don’t have to go through that weight cut process that always drains me the forty-eight hours before the fight. I think with this last fight (vs. Alvarez in May) it really took a toll on me. Obviously, we know the stipulations. I was in a contract with my last bout, so that was a clear indication for me that maybe I need to try and test the waters in 168 pounds just to give myself an opportunity to be myself, to be 100 percent and camp has been beautiful.”
Chavez is confident a win over the Jacobs will revive his career. Chavez has only had one very short fight since losing a wide decision to Alvarez in 2017 – a first round knockout in August. “This is the right fight to get me back to the top,” said Chavez Jr. “It’s a big risk because of the activity he’s had, but I am not a stepping stone for him, I am ready and I need to win the fight and I know I have the skills and the heart to win. There are a lot of good fighters out there at 168 pounds, not big names but strong guys. I feel I can beat them all and with the right decisions I will get there. And that starts with a win over a great fighter like Jacobs. I am a fighter and I take the risks, now I am doing things right. I think this is my time, and now I need to take the next big step. It’s going to be a good fight for the fans and after that I’ll be ready to win another world title. This feels like a world title fight as Danny is a true champion and so am I.”
Were both fighters in their prime, the odds for Jacobs vs. Chavez Jr would be quite close. But Chavez hasn’t faced a top-caliber fighter since 2017 and has only fought once, period, in the last 30 months (vs. Evert Bravo, who has a 25-10 record). Now 33 years old, it’s unlikely he looks remotely like the man who compiled a 46-0-1 record circa 2012 say Paruk from Sports Betting Dime. Jacobs is 32 himself, but is fresh off a narrow unanimous decision loss to Alvarez (115-113, 115-113, 116-112). Moving up a weight class shouldn’t be an issue – he always had considerable punching power for a middleweight – and he’ll have a decided speed advantage over Chavez. Oddsmakers have set Jacobs as a -1800 favorite, which is a bit short, but does accurately portray the tough mountain lying ahead of Chavez Jr.