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Jacob's Ladder
The “Golden Child” gets a golden op for the July 31 Golden Boy card in Vegas

Story & photo by Chris Cozzone

Given the chance to rise out of contention to become a world champion, Daniel “The Golden Child” Jacobs (20-0, 17 KOs) will get a shot at the belt stripped from Lineal Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez when he takes on also-undefeated Dmitry Pirog (16-0, 13 KOs) July 31.

The fight, for the vacant WBO middleweight title, will be televised on HBO-PPV as part of the Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Juan Diaz II bill, from Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay.

“A title fight came faster than expected,” Jacob said on Wednesday. “But I don’t think it’s too fast, like I’m not ready for the situation. Normally, guys get title shots when they’re like 25-0 or 27-0, but if I had it my way, I would’ve fought for a title when I was 17-0.”

Originally, Martinez was awarded the title, along with the WBC and lineal honors, when he outclassed Kelly Pavlik in April. By June, however, Martinez was stripped for holding a non-WBO belt at another weight class, that being 154.

The WBO’s slice of the middleweight championship became vacant – a golden opportunity for Golden Boy’s “The Golden Child.”

“The fans will consider me a ‘paper champion,’ but, me, personally, I don’t agree with that statement,” says Jacobs. “I know boxing fans and how they will perceive me, and it discredits my team and myself in winning the belt.

“I will consider myself a champion, and if I have the opportunity to take it from Sergio, that’s what I’ll do.”

Before the name ‘Sergio Martinez’ can be considered, Jacobs will have to get through Pirog on the 31st – a young and hungry Russian who may be Jacobs’ toughest opponent to date.

“I’m hungry – but I’m pretty sure he’s hungry, too,” says Jacobs. “But I’m ready for him. Not only do I watch tapes and YouTube clips of him, but I dream about this guy, I go to bed thinking about him.

“He’s a crafty fighter – not your average European fighter. There’s not a lot of evidence of knockout power, but his knockouts have come from accumulation of punches.”

With even less fights than Jacobs, Pirog has picked up a handful of minor belts taking out guys like Eric Mitchell (22-7-1, 11 KOs) and former title challenger Kofi Jantuah (32-4-1, 21 KOs).

“The fighters he’s fought in the past, his speed and skills, don’t match up to me,” says Jacobs, who won the NABF middleweight title in his last bout, stopping Juan Astorga (14-5-1, 9 KOs) in two.

“I will have to die in that ring, because I don’t see anything that can stop me, given my hunger and what I have.”

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