Ahead of this weekend’s HBO fight between middleweights Daniel Jacobs and Luis Arias, the network has officially released it’s promotional video feature on Jacobs who overcame a scary bout with cancer to return to the top of the sport — when almost no one thought it could be done.
The video, narrated by none other than Liev Schreiber, begins with Jacobs running through the streets of Brooklyn, his hometown, as he talks about the energy he draws from the area. Jacobs talks about growing up in the notoriously rough neighborhood of Brownsville and how the environment shaped him into becoming a fighter.
“Its a violent area, it’s very poor so people are just doing whatever they can to get money,” stated Jacobs older brother David Matthew.
Jacobs then recounts his first street fight as a self-proclaimed mama’s boy. He beat up a boy who he said was bullying him, going back to school the next day as The Man. Shortly afterwards Jacobs found his way into a local boxing gym, where he would begin developing what would be his life-long craft.
“...I just remember earning my stripes — sparring, getting beat up early on, and going through the tough stages, obviously with the guys being better than me and teaching me nothing’s easy.”
Then we fast forward to what would become Jacobs’ biggest fight at the time, a 2010 bout with Dmitry Pirog, after his grandmother passed away just a week earlier.
“The week of the fight we were in the hospital and - the longest week, the longest days, the longest hours and seconds I’ve ever experienced in my life. We were with her, her last moments in life and as a kid who -- I glorified this woman, she was everything to me — so to see her pass away like that, it was so devastating.”
Jacobs would go on to get knocked out by Pirog on fight night, finding out just months later that he had been suffering from bone cancer, osteosarcoma.
“They said I was gonna have to get a 6-7 hour surgery. I would not get my nerves back in my legs 100%, if I was even to survive the surgery.”
But after successful surgery, followed by 25 rounds of chemotherapy, it was considered a medical victory for Jacobs even to be able to learn how to walk again. His career as a professional boxer, however, was thought to be over. Jacobs managed to defy the odds though, and tells his story here, which can be viewed above, courtesy of HBO.