Canelo v Jacobs: Miracle Man beats cancer and wants to prove another point against Alvarez

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs
Alvarez and Jacobs attend their press conference in Las Vegas in March

Daniel Jacobs has vowed to show he is the best middleweight in a generation when he faces Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in a bout which could cap a journey from cancer patient to unified world champion.

Jacobs, 32, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his spine in 2011, leading doctors to state he would never box and may one day never walk again.

Known as 'The Miracle Man', he returned to the sport after a 19-month lay-off and stands as a two-time world middleweight champion going into Saturday's Las Vegas bout against the sport's best-paid fighter.

Jacobs, who says his cancer battle makes him mentally "superior" to rivals, holds the IBF world title, while Alvarez - beaten just once in 54 fights - brings the WBA and WBC belts to the unification contest.

"My physical advantage in itself can win me the fight, but I also have the mental capacity," said Jacobs. "I'm in my prime. I'm the only fighter Canelo has faced since Floyd Mayweather in 2013 to be in his prime.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me and I'm mostly excited to get in there to show the world that I am the best middleweight of my generation."

Eddie Hearn quote

Boxing and cancer - a doctor's take

New Yorker Jacobs recalls feeling fatigued before his diagnosis and in battling Osteosarcoma he says treatment left him "sick, groggy and weak".

His return to the sport - motivated he says by a simple "pursuit of happiness" - saw him defy doctors' predictions and he eventually won a first world title in 2014 before losing the strap and winning it back in October.

BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello has worked alongside Jacobs in a co-commentary capacity and shared frank discussions about the recovery.

"He told me this staggering story of how this tumour had wrapped itself around his spine," says Costello. "They told him the prognosis was good but that he might be paralysed.

"He pointed me to a quote from the neurosurgeon he worked with - a Dr Roger Hartl from the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

"The surgeon tried to correlate how Jacobs may deal with cancer given he was a boxer. Dr Hartl said 'the loneliness that somebody with cancer deals with reminds me of what someone who does Daniel's job probably feels. If you have cancer there is no real team there, just like those moments before you step into a ring. I'm sure you must be scared and frightened to a certain extent because you could really get hurt. It comes down to the personal risks you take and the consequences only you may face'."

Costello added: "It will be a special win if Jacobs pulls it off."

Daniel Jacobs
Jacobs has lost only two of his 37 bouts

A true message of hope

Jacobs lost his first world title belt to Gennady Golovkin in 2017 before the Kazakhstan fighter succumbed to Alvarez in September.

The Mexican is a 1-4 favourite with bookmakers but Eddie Hearn - part of Jacobs' promotional team - "truly believes" there will be an upset which will spread a message of hope.

"I want the message of Daniel Jacobs to be spread worldwide," says Hearn.

"Cancer touches all of us. With Daniel Jacobs, you have a message of complete hope to anybody suffering.

"Right now, I want this story to be spread worldwide to look at this fine young man and realise there is hope. If he can do it, you can do it. And on Saturday, I believe he'll become victorious and become the unified champion of the world."

Alvarez-Jacobs head-to-head

Pursuit of happiness meets pursuit of history

Jacobs will hold a height and reach advantage over Alvarez but the favourite - roared on my countless Mexican's travelling to the T-Mobile Arena - has shown a skilset capable of hoovering up versions of world titles in three weight classes.

He has fought professionally from the age of just 15 and showed incredible punch resistance and durability in drawing with and then beating Golovkin. Few in the sport appear harder to put away.

This is his second bout of a reported £278m deal with streaming service DAZN. So much rides on his continued success and he is intent on leaving the ring with three of the four middleweight belts before eyeing the WBO title later in the year.

"Nobody in Mexico has ever done that, won all four belts in one division, so that's my motivation," said Alvarez, 28.

"I'm ready to continue writing history like I always have."

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