The outcomes in recent step up fights have been one-sided, but Luis Arias might have the best situation in Saturday’s bout versus Daniel Jacobs. 

This Saturday night at Long Island, New York’s Nassau Coliseum 27-year old Luis “Cuba” Arias (18-0, 9 KOs) will enter the ring to face his most formidable opponent in former WBA Middleweight champion Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs). In just the last month a pair of young, rising challengers suffered substantial setbacks in the state of New York.

On October 14 WBC Super Welterweight champion Jermell Charlo brutally knocked out previously undefeated top-ranked contender Erickson Lubin with about :20 to go in round one. This past weekend, November 4, Chicagoan Adrian Granados fought 12 spirited rounds against former Welterweight champion Shawn Porter to become a mandatory challenger to Keith Thurman, but walked away with a loss via unanimous decision – Granados’ sixth in his 26 bouts.


What implications do those fights have regarding Arias? Almost nothing.

The almost is because prior to Jacobs losing his unification bout with Gennady Golovkin in March, Brooklyn’s Miracle Man was on a streak of 12 fights that ended by stoppage. In contrast, Jacobs’ 85 percent knockout ratio suggests he’s a more lethal puncher than what Lubin faced in Charlo. Despite the abrupt ending at Barclays Center October 14, the consensus beforehand was that Charlo-Lubin was going to be an action-packed highly-skilled contest more than likely decided by the judges.

Why do the other two recent step up fights have nothing to do with Arias and his chances against Jacobs? We’ll look at two reasons why Arias’ situation is more favorable than either Lubin or Granados.

A softer target, relatively speaking

Prior to Jacobs’ impressive streak of a dozen straight stoppages, Jacobs was knocked out in the fifth round by an overhand right from Dmitry Pirog at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on July 31, 2010. Jacobs was also knocked down in round one against Sergio Mora (9 KOs in 33 fights), as well as in the fourth round against Golovkin.

According to BoxRec Charlo has never been down in his 30 professional fights, and Porter’s lone knock down came in the 12th round versus Adrien Broner nearly 30 months ago. The odds were low for KOs by Granados and Lubin, despite the Florida southpaw’s “Hammer” moniker.

Arias’ nine KOs in his 18 fights doesn’t suggest he’s an exceptional power puncher, but five of his last eight fights haven’t gone the distance. Jacobs finished his fight against Golovkin on his feet, but the fact he has had some chin issues in the past should encourage Arias more so than both Lubin and Granados in their bouts.

A better physical matchup

Judging by the eye-test, Jacobs’ size advantage, specifically in height and length, looks significant enough to raise a little concern. However, unlike Granados this isn’t Arias’ foray into a higher weight class. Arias convincingly bullied Darryl Cunningham at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center, in June 2016, before winning by technical knockout in the fourth round. That performance crowned Arias with the vacant USBA Middleweight title.

Luis Arias connecting with a punishing blow versus Darryl Cunningham at the Wisconsin Center June 2016. A bout for the vacant USBA Middleweight title.

Looking at Lubin in the ring with Charlo back in October, the defending champion arguably looked like a much bigger, or more filled out, Super Welterweight. We’ll see how Arias stacks up against Jacobs on fight night, once both the fighters re-hydrate after the weigh-in over 24 hours prior to entering the ring.

Lastly, in Granados’ fight against Porter, Granados rarely demonstrated that he was physically strong enough to force Porter into the corners or ropes where he could possibly pin him momentarily to unleash some combinations with his weight over his front foot  – for a change. Judging from Arias’ control of the action in the bout against Cunningham, a fighter with several bouts at Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight, Arias should be able to stand his ground better against Jacobs.

During the Matchroom Boxing organized fight announcement for this matchup Arias implored Jacobs to stay off his bike after getting hit, warning the former champion that he planned to operate from the middle of the ring all night.

Jacobs is returning to the ring with the realization that he might’ve squandered the opportunity to defeat a pound-for-pound unified champion in Golovkin. Upsetting one of the sport’s most touted punchers, and derailing a run at the division’s record for consecutive title defenses would’ve marked a career-defining feat. The new Matchroom Boxing deal, Arias brash trash-talk, and securing a rematch with Golovkin will all certainly serve as motivational factors for Jacobs Saturday night.

Regardless, Arias likely watched both the Lubin and Granados losses, and equated neither fighter or their situations to himself and his mission at hand.

After being handed the USBA Middleweight belt at the Wisconsin Center in 2016, Arias addressed the sold out hometown crowd that just stood for nearly every minute of the fight’s electrifying four rounds. He boldly told his fans his new belt signaled to his promoter, Roc Nation Sports, they could bring him the big names at Middleweight – Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs. With just a few days to go before we see Jacobs-Arias it seems like Cuba knew a little something about the future. Sunday morning we’ll see how he fared with history.

Header photo by Lester Silva

Body photo by Ed Mulholland/HBO

Body photo by Jamie McDaniel Robbins

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