IMO, regardless of the outcome versus Mexican superstar Santos Saúl Álvarez Barragán this upcoming Cinco de Mayo weekend - hell, even if he gets KO1ed - this Brownsville native ought to be a first-ballot entry into Canastota. Now, hear me out before you get your panties in a twist - don't force me to go Pirog on your ass. The night on which he made his pro debut was itself legendary, making it almost written in the proverbial stars that he was destined for greatness. He fought in the second bout slot on the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Ricky Hatton undercard - a high-profile stage to begin his career, streaming to a wide audience (less than saw the PPV itself, but still plenty of diehards and more than a few casuals) - the card which ultimately shoehorned the obscure phrase "check hook" permanently into the sports vernacular. From there on, the boxing world rolled out the red carpet for Jacobs as he continued to shine, displaying excellent form against his outmatched early competition on exclusively major event undercards (starting out 9-0 with all nine by knockout and eight of those in the 1st round!), gradually improving the caliber he was facing - including a UD over Ishé Oluwa Kamau Ali Smith, which arguably stood as Smith's only zero-percent-controversial defeat from his professional debut in 2000 until he lost to Erislandy Lara in 2014 - until suddenly he was 20-0 (17) and heading into a hot prospect showdown on HBO against Russian counter-puncher Dmitry Yurievich "Grandmaster" Pirog. Now, this has been swept under the rug in the intervening years, but the HBO commentary team - who always loved themselves a good tear-jerking narrative - made quite a bit of it on the night: Jacobs oughtn't to have fought Pirog. His grandmother, for whom Jacobs was his closest and most beloved relative - had passed away just days before, and his trainer Andre Rozier says "we should've honestly not followed through on the fight. He was an emotional wreck and he couldn't pull it together..." Mind you, this aside is by no means intended to detract from Pirog's victory. I am the goddamn coachman of the Modern Middleweight Mythical Monster's™ bandwagon. Pirog was legitimately great with a capital G and the cutting short of his potential with a back injury stands as the greatest blow to boxing (and the greatest obstacle to declaring Golovkin the clear-cut best h2h middleweight of his era) in the last decade, IMO. That just makes it all the more impressive, really, that Jacobs, practically sobbing his way into the ring, still managed to box very well against such a world class foe, leading on all three judges' scorecards 39-37 heading into the 5th round. The rest is history, yes - Pirog expertly cutting the ring off and menacing Jacobs into the ropes, where he found him with a perfect right hand that ranks among the ATG kayo shots. Then, less than a year later, he was diagnosed with fucking osteosarcoma. When it rains it hurricanes. Now, the reason I consider Jacobs' eventual recovery and pugilistic comeback so miraculous is that we have a "there but for the grace..." case study in Jermain Taylor, of the road oft traveled, a glimpse at Bizarro Jacobs in an unhappier alternate universe. Parallels abound between Jacobs & Taylor, and early in his career some wiseacres even dubbed Jacobs "the new Taylor...except with a bigger punch". They were both fast, agile, jab-forward, well-roundedly skillful, African-American boxer-puncher middleweights who kept themselves in phenomenal shape (and later, once the prospect luster had worn off, the commonality of both having been KTFO in brutal fashion added some dark irony to earlier comparisons). Now, mental health is a tricky mistress...in fact she's a downright capricious little cunt, as I of all people know well. Not everyone goes through everything quite the same, and people have different coping thresholds and strategies. That's all well and fine. But to my knowledge, there was never a string of heartbreak in Taylor's life to quite match the 1-2-3 combination the poor, benighted Jacobs took on his figurative chin: 1) grandma dies, 2) zero and long-term marketability in his livelihood goes up in smoke with that Pirog right hand, and 3) oh btw you have spine cancer and you're probably going to die. I don't mean to diminish whatever problems Jermain did indeed have in his (rather pampered, it must be said) life - but from an outside view it would appear that Danny had far more cause to undergo a nihilistic downward spiral. Instead he somehow remained a positive cheery guy and solid role model you wouldn't mind your kids looking up to - and remains so until this very day. As for Bad Intentions? Well, suffice to say, the intentions (and resultant erosion of inhibitions) got worse. After taking 1½ years to fight quite literally for his life, Jacobs returned without skipping a beat...and in the wake of that enormous Pirog setback, he blazed a trail of triumphant destruction like a burning phoenix, going 12-0 (12), and only maybe 3-4 of those were bums, with at least as many (actually more) being world class former or future belt holders! If by this point there was anybody in boxing fandom left on the fence about rooting for him, he firmly won them over by thrashing perennial heel Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora not once, but twice. This all built to a head of steam in 2017, when Jacobs was set to put his WBA middleweight title into the kitty with Triple G's collection: IBF, WBC, and WBO. It was a close fight, disputed even now just over two years later, with Golovkin sectarians believing the scorecards were too close and haters thinking Jacobs got robbed. However one scored it, the overall takeaway for a rational person is - or rather ought to be - that Golovkin and Jacobs in 2017 were very close to evenly matched. Even without the flash knockdown, Jacobs would have lost very narrowly on the official scorecards, via MD (would have been 114-114 and 115-113 x2, assuming Golovkin still won the 4th round...if Jacobs did, then it becomes a split draw with a dissenting 115-113 card in his favor - meaning Golovkin would still have retained all his belts) and yet his stock rose from the loss - while some chinks of doubt began to appear in the seemingly magicked armor that had long been the public's general perception of GGG and his superiority over the rest of the division - he was, after all, according to experts prognosticating before the fight, supposed to have followed in the footsteps of his would-be rival Pirog, and knocked Jacobs spark out. After this derailment of all that momentum compiled in the seven years since the Pirog loss, and with Golovkin clearly looking ahead to greener (in the literal $en$e ) pastures with a Canelo super-fight looming, one might forgive Danny for here taking a pause and saying "I'm going to just milk all my banked-up name value and take an easy road, maybe wait in the wings to knock off a weak paper champ down the line.." - but that ain't how Brooklyn rolls, baby. And it damn sure ain't how the Golden Child - now a Miracle-busting grown ass Man - rolls. Three opponents in a row. All unbeaten. All dangerous, avoided, ranked prospects. Luis Arias of Cuba, 140-25 amateur record, currently WBC top 15. Maciej Sulęcki of Poland, 110-30 amateur record and currently top-10 rated by the WBC & WBO & WBA. Sergey Derevyanchenko of Ukraine, an Olympian and storied amateur. Win, win, win. And now he's facing the consensus (whether Golovkin stans like it or not) kingpin of the MW division, a man groomed for success in boxing since his teens and coming into the very heart of his prime, and whose only defeat on record (however controversial that fact may be) is against the longtime p4p #1 and while probably not "TBE" still objectively top 5 ever, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Hopefully that cancer stays in remission - because Danny has balls the size of grapefruits that would make for a giant metastasizing bullseye. The combined records of his ten best opponents is 273-11-6...which is a 94% winning percentage. I absolutely fucking defy you to find me a fighter or two whose ten best opponents have all been a) people you have actually heard of and b) have that high a combined winning percentage. You're going to have an extremely difficult time of it. Good luck. [note: this is reverse chronological order, not my subjective reckoning of their relative quality ] 51-1-2 (Canelo) 12-0 (Derevyanchenko 26-0 (Sulęcki) 18-0 (Arias) 36-0 (Golovkin) 32-0-1 (Quillin) 28-3-2 (Mora - as of their rematch) 25-1-1 (Truax) 32-5 (Lorenzo) 16-0 (Pirog) You'll note that Jacobs has fought half a dozen high-quality unbeaten opponents (also itself a rarity nowadays). He is 4-2 against them, with the first loss having the aforementioned asterisks attached, and the second in a fight with a guy in the middleweight GOAT conversation along with Hagler & Hopkins, during his exit from his prime, granted, but Golovkin is still miles away from shot as evidenced by his two subsequent close fights with Canelo - and once again, GGG vs. Jacobs could have really gone either way. Put some respect on this man's name, I beseech you. If he gets beat, give Canelo his due. If he wins, bow down to the Miracle Man....genuflect, for verily he is ye Middleweight Messiah™.