When Brooklyn middleweight Danny Jacobs steps in the ring this Saturday night, it will be more than just another boxer’s homecoming. As the cliché goes, it will be the first day of the rest of his life.
Jacobs (22-1, 19 KOs) will meet Josh Luteran (13-1, 9 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The bout hasn’t garnered as much publicity in some circles as the four major bouts being aired on Showtime, but in many ways it’s the most significant; it will be his first boxing match after surviving spinal cancer.
In 2010 Jacobs was in a rebuilding stage. He suffered his first defeat to Dmitry Pirog by fifth round TKO. He came back to score two stoppage wins of his own within eight months and took a USO tour to Iraq with Golden Boy Promotions. Things were getting back on track, and then the symptoms began to show.
During a routine bike ride, Jacobs experienced numbness and lack on control of his feet. His symptoms worsened quickly and a short time later, he needed a cane to walk. First diagnosed with a pinched nerve, he wasn’t overly concerned. He was given medication and figured, as the doctors did, that he would heal up soon enough and be back in the gym. Within three weeks, he was in a wheel chair.
An MRI at New York Presbyterian Hospital revealed a massive, aggressive tumor growing around his spine; thoracic spinal cancer. Emergency surgery took six hours, and the removal of the tumor was followed by 25 radiation treatments over a two month period. His treatment was successful, but Jacobs still couldn’t feel his legs and even through intense physical therapy sessions, doctors told him he would never box again and most likely wouldn’t be able to walk properly either.
A few months later, Danny began to regain feeling in his feet, then his legs. He started training at the House of Pain boxing gym in Coney Island, a slow process at first but eventually he was sparring again, although the doctors advised him against it. Now, just 18 months after his nightmare began, Jacobs is returning the sport that brought him four N.Y. Golden Glove titles and world title contention. The doctors gave him permission, and three of them will be at ringside to see Danny’s return bout.
Time will tell if Jacobs can work his way back to world title contention, or if he’ll be the same fighter he was before his ordeal. He’s already fought the toughest fight anyone could imagine; Saturday he starts a whole new journey.
Danny Jacobs vs. Josh Luteran will be shown live on Showtime Extreme @ 7 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 20th.