Daniel Jacobs' hopes of fighting for a world title again were dealt a major blow by a split decision loss to John Ryder on Saturday. Ryder won by scores of 115-113, 115-113, 113-115 in an eliminator bout for the WBA world super middleweight title, which is held -- along with the other three belts -- by Canelo Alvarez.
Ryder (31-5, 17 KOs) may have to wait for his chance at a potential mega-money clash with Alvarez as the champ is being lined up for fights against Dmitry Bivol and Gennadiy Golovkin this year.
Jacobs controlled most of the fight until the midway point, when Ryder increased the pressure in front of his hometown fans at the Alexandra Palace in north London, England.
"It feels like a coming out party after 12 years in the game," Ryder said. "I thought I nicked a few of the early ones and I thought it was convincing. I was getting the measure of him and feeling his power. I just wanted to see what he had. I thought I hurt him in Round 8."
Jacobs (37-4, 30 KOs), from Brooklyn, New York, is known as "The Miracle Man" after he overcame osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2011 to resume his career and twice win versions of the world middleweight title. It has been a boxing fairy-tale, but Jacobs' career is now in danger of nearing an end after this defeat.
Ryder, 33, from Islington, London, had recorded two wins since he lost a disputed decision to English rival Callum Smith in 2019. He showed the same grit against Jacobs as he did against Smith in the latter rounds of Saturday's fight.
Jacobs, 35, who went the distance with Alvarez and Golovkin before losing, needed to shake off some rust after he scraped past Gabriel Rosado via a unanimous decision 15 months ago. Jacobs did just that by boxing cleverly with a good array of punches and smooth movement in the first half of the fight, but then endured some tough moments in the last six rounds.
The New Yorker has operated at a higher level than Ryder and that class was apparent early on as Jacobs boxed smartly behind his jab. A right hand glanced off Ryder's temple in the second round, as he struggled to pin down Jacobs, who switched between stances.
Ryder could not find the gaps to land punches, but Jacobs picked his shots beautifully in the first half of the fight and in the fifth by repeatedly landing solid right hands. Jacobs landed a right uppercut in the sixth, but Ryder had a better round and caught the former champion with a double left hand.
That combination spurred Ryder into more activity and he enjoyed his best round in the seventh as he got close enough to land more punches, including a series of uppercuts. Jacobs' early effervescence deserted him in the eighth round and he looked wobbly as Ryder unloaded a flurry of hooks in the last 30 seconds of the round.
Ryder was excellent in the second half and dictated the ninth, but Jacobs regained control through his orthodox jab in the 10th. Ryder landed a great left hook in the 11th and his late pressure proved decisive.