Middleweight Daniel Jacobs is in that in-between place where many young fighters often find themselves. He has been around a bit too long -- he turned pro in 2007 and was ESPN.com's prospect of the year back in 2009 -- and has a bit too much experience to be called a prospect. But he also still lacks the signature victory that could allow him to honestly be called a contender.
With a win against former title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo, however, Jacobs hopes to add his name to the list of contenders in an increasingly deep 160-pound division.
In the second main event of his career and the first in his hometown of New York, Jacobs will meet Lorenzo on Monday night in a scheduled 10-rounder at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square in Manhattan. The fight headlines the debut of Golden Boy Promotions' twice-monthly Monday night series (9 p.m. ET) on the new all-sports cable network Fox Sports 1.
"As of right now, people don't really consider me at the top, and neither do I," Jacobs told ESPN.com. "I have to beat somebody like Lorenzo. He has the ability to upset some guys. He's still strong and he's very experienced. I'll just go in and give it my best. A win over him will put me at that level and give the boxing fans and the world something to respect."
New Yorker Lorenzo (32-5, 24 KOs), 32, a Dominican Republic native, has come up short in three shots at titles -- two for full belts and one for an interim strap in decision losses to Sebastian Sylvester (a vacant title in 2009), Felix Sturm (2010) and Hassan N'Dam (the interim belt, in 2011).
It's an important fight for Jacobs (25-1, 22 KOs), who was rushed into a title fight in 2010 and got knocked out in the fifth round fighting for a vacant belt against Dmitry Pirog. Jacobs returned to win two fights but then was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer that left him with a tumor wrapped around his spine, partial paralysis and little chance of survival, much less fighting again. But Jacobs beat the disease -- he has been declared cancer-free by his doctors -- and returned to action at full strength last October after being sidelined for 19 months.
As a cancer survivor with a big platform, Jacobs has gotten deeply involved in raising money for cancer research and founded the Get In The Ring Foundation, whose aim is to help families who are struggling with medical expenses for their cancer-stricken children, to provide better health and nutrition for children and to end bullying in schools.
"I don't fight for just myself," Jacobs said. "I feel like I represent more. God has blessed me with a story of being a cancer survivor, and with the foundation we're encouraging people to join the fight to knock out children's cancer, children's obesity, bullying. I feel like with what I've been through and being a professional athlete, I can be a role model with the way I conduct myself and live my life."
The fight with Lorenzo will be the fourth in Jacobs' comeback after cancer but his first against a serious opponent, and how he performs could go a long way toward moving Jacobs closer to another title opportunity.
"Lorenzo is very durable and strong and the biggest step up for me as far as an experienced opponent," Jacobs said. "I know he will come to fight. I'm sure he's stoked and will try to put on the best performance he can. A win will be great for my career. I think it will put me in a great position. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, and [adviser] Al [Haymon] doesn't want me to get too far ahead of myself.
"After this, we will sit down and talk about the future, but we're focusing on the task at hand. I want any title shot, though. It's my dream since coming back. Whoever, whenever. If I do get past [Lorenzo], I'll know I'm ready. I've been back about a year and I am ready to take what they put in front of me. My health is fine. No nothing, no nerve damage. No cancer."