Daniel Jacobs spent the better part of two months training in Atlanta preparing for his super middleweight debut against fellow former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., knowing that it was possible Chavez wouldn’t ultimately be in the ring with him on Friday night.
Due to Chavez’s refusal to take a random drug test on Oct. 24, he was suspended indefinitely by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, prompting Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn to line up an insurance policy in the form of Gabriel Rosado, who agreed go fight on the undercard knowing he would go into the main event if Chavez was not cleared to fight.
Thousands of miles away from Jacobs, in Hollywood, California, Rosado also spent weeks training for the undercard fight. He is due to fight Humberto Gutierrez Ochoa in a stay-busy 10-rounder, but he understood that his plans could change as well.
So why did this happen?
Hearn planned to hold Jacobs-Chavez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and put the date on hold with the commission. At that point, the commission, per its rules, elected to activate its enhanced drug testing protocol with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association handling the collection. The commission decided to use enhanced drug testing, which is allowable under its rules because of Chavez’s past in Nevada, where he has twice failed tests for banned substances.
When a VADA tester showed up at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, where Chavez (51-3-1, 33 KOs), 33, of Mexico, was training, he declined to submit to the test. Under World Anti-Doping Association rules, refusing to submit to a test can result in the same penalty as failing a test, so the Nevada commission suspended him.
That led Hearn to move the fight to Phoenix, setting up a standoff between the Nevada commission and the Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission.
Nevada’s perspective was that Chavez should not be allowed to fight in another state while suspended in Nevada, which is covered by the federal Muhammad Ali Reform Act. Arizona, however, apparently didn’t see it the same way and was prepared to allow the fight. Chavez ultimately sued the Nevada commission in an effort to have his suspension lifted so he could fight Jacobs.
On Tuesday night Chavez’s plans were decided as a judge granted him a temporary restraining order that would allow him to fight Friday (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET) at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
“Unless he flunks weight,” Hearn joked, knowing that Chavez and the scale have had their issues.
But that turn of events came just days before the fight, meaning Jacobs (35-3, 29 KOs), 32, of Brooklyn, New York, and Rosado (24-12-1, 14 KOs), 33, of Philadelphia, still had to prepare for either of their two possible opponents.
Jacobs and Rosado were not concerned through the process. They know each other well and have fought different styles of fighters through their careers. Still, they had to do their due diligence.
Daniel Jacobs trained in Atlanta for his fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. … or Gabriel Rosado. Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Jacobs, who comes into the bout with a new head trainer in Fareed Samad after splitting with longtime cornerman Andre Rozier due to a financial dispute, has taken the possible opponent change in stride.
“I’m pretty experienced when it comes to fighting multiple styles,” says Jacobs. “So whether or not I fight Chavez or if I fight Gabe Rosado, I think that their styles stylistically, how we’ve been preparing and getting this sparring, I don’t think it’s [a problem].
“Certain guys may have unique styles. But I think, generally, these guys have pretty much about the same style. [Chavez puts on] more pressure than the other. I do think it’s around the same skill set, so I’m not worried in that aspect,” Jacobs said. “If I don’t fight Chavez, who we actually signed up to fight, then I’ll be a little disappointed. But I don’t think that’s going to change or deter me from putting my best foot forward.”
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Ever since the fight was put together, Jacobs’ camp insisted that Hearn sign an opponent acceptable to them, and DAZN, to step in if Chavez was not allowed to box. Rosado, whom Hearn promotes, fit the bill.
“I’ve always stressed that I wanted the big names and I want to give the fans exactly what they want to see,” said Jacobs. “I know a lot of people still have a bitter taste in their mouth when it comes to Chavez, but Chavez has that name and that’s my preference. I would like to face Chavez. I think he’s a good opponent for me at this time, [starting] my campaign at 168 pounds.
“But as far as Rosado, I just think that I’m not sure if I’ll get the credit if I was to fight him and defeat him. And I’ve been very vocal about that, even to Gabe Rosado. I told him personally and I just don’t think that that’s something that the fans are arguing to see.”
Jacobs, who is coming off a decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in their title unification fight in May and is owed another fight by DAZN before the end of the year, said he and his team did spent some time reviewing Rosado videos in addition to Chavez.
“I took a look at a couple of his fights, maybe about one or two times,” Jacobs said. “I think my preparation is all that I need to be focused on.”
Rosado, a two-time middleweight world title challenger who is moving up to super middleweight, said that while he would happily step in to fight Chavez, he never rooted for him to get bounced from the bout.
Promoter Eddie Hearn, left, had an agreement with Gabriel Rosado for a possible fight against Daniel Jacobs… if needed. Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
Rosado and Chavez are friendly, and are both trained by Freddie Roach, meaning they spent time together at the gym. In fact, in the early weeks of training camp they sparred with each other, an unusual situation since they were in some measure getting ready for the same opponent in Jacobs.
“I told Freddie, ‘After this you can officially say you’ve seen it all,'” Rosado said. “It’s a unique situation that I don’t think ever happens. It’s the funniest thing ever. There’s time where I look at Jacobs. I don’t need to watch much tape on him. I have him figured out in my mind. I know his style.”
Rosado did not dwell on whether he would face Jacobs or somebody else. He said he just kept training as usual and that he would be ready to go whether he was going to fight Jacobs or somebody else; he didn’t even get Ochoa as an opponent until a few days ago.
“Matchroom sent me some names,” Rosado said. “I said I don’t give a s—, just match me up. I’m locked in, I’m focused. I’m having a great camp, so if it’s Jacobs, great. If it’s not, then we just keep it moving and maybe we get a title fight in March, which is what Eddie told me.
“Either way, I’m just glad to stay active. So if it’s just the stay-busy fight, then fine. If it’s the Jacobs fight, I’m very confident going into the fight, especially being at 168 where I don’t have to cut so much weight. I think that right now there’s a great opportunity to beat Jacobs.”
Rosado said the only downer if the main event wound up being him and Jacobs is the location. Jacobs-Rosado, he reasoned, belongs in New York or Philly.
The whole episode has left the veteran chuckling about how strange boxing can be sometimes.
“It’s crazy,” Rosado said. “I’ve never done a contract [for two different fights] before, so it’s interesting. It’s very interesting to see how it will play out. Regardless, I have a fight. But it’s nuts.”