Prospect of the Year: Boxing's Madden Curse?
This past weekend Daniel Jacobs, the 2009 ESPN Prospect of the Year, from Brooklyn, New York was matched against Russian Dmitry Pirog for the vacant WBO Middleweight title.
This fight was supposed to send Jacobs to the next level, defeating another undefeated fighter and becoming a world champion. That was until Pirog derailed those plans, landing a devastating right hand in the fifth round that sent Jacobs to the canvas giving Pirog the win by knockout.
This was very shocking, considering Pirog was, and still may be, relatively unknown defeated Jacobs who was considered by some a major part in the future of boxing.
With that all said, it’s not the first time this has happened in recent history.
Amir Khan was ESPN Prospect of the Year in 2007. Up to that point, he had won the silver medal for Great Britain in the 2004 Olympic games, had compiled a record of 18-0 and was well on his way to becoming a superstar in the sport.
It was September 6, 2008 when he was matched against Breidis Prescott, who upset Khan with a first round knockout. This was a major setback in his career.
There is also a third fighter who has been in a very similar position, Victor Ortiz. Ortiz had received the same award from ESPN in 2008. He had put together a streak of eight consecutive wins appeared on the undercard of quite a few pay per view events and even headlined an edition of HBO Boxing After Dark.
June 27, 2009 was the date Ortiz fought Marcos Maidana for the interim WBA Light Welterweight title. Ortiz and Maidana traded knockdowns in the first round and Ortiz knocked his opponent down twice in the second round as well.
It was an exciting and action filled fight until Ortiz was knocked down in the sixth round eventually leading to Maidana earning a victory by TKO in that same round. This loss and Ortiz’s remarks in his post fight interview caused many in the sport to question his heart.
Amir Khan has since rebounded from his loss by winning his last five fights, hiring new trainer Freddie Roach and becoming WBA Light Welterweight champion.
Ortiz is on his way back as well, winning his last three fights, and set to fight once again in September trying to earn a big name fight for himself.
It’s impossible to tell what Jacobs’ future will be like from here, only time will tell if he can rebound like Ortiz and Khan, the two Prospects of the Year before him, or if this loss will damage him for the rest of his career leaving him unable to recover from what may become known as a “cursed” award.
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