Boxing returns to Brooklyn: Danny Jacobs’ comeback from cancer

John Gichigi - Bongarts/Getty Images

Last year, Danny Jacobs was diagnosed with spinal cancer. On Saturday night, the one-time middleweight contender steps back into a boxing ring when he faces Josh Luteran.

Last April, rising middleweight title contender Danny Jacobs was out for a leisurely bike ride when he experienced a pins-and-needles sensation on the bottom of his feet.

A couple of weeks later, Jacobs could not walk normally. The next month, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a life threatening form of spinal cancer at the age of 24.

Now 25 years old, Jacobs, "The Golden Child," is poised to return to the squared circle for the first time in 19 months when he faces Josh Luteran at the Barclays Center on the night world championship Boxing returns to Brooklyn. Jacobs (22-1, 19 KO's) will compete on the undercard of a show headlined by two title fights, Paulie Malignaggi vs. Pablo Cesar Cano and Danny Garcia vs. Erik Morales.

If you ask Jacobs, a former NABF and NABO middleweight champion who once fought for the vacant WBO title, he's down with fighting a preliminary bout on Showtime Extreme, plain thankful to be back inside a boxing ring, and flat-out thrilled to be alive. A tumor was found on his spine and the mass was malevolent. When the tumor was removed in May of 2011, doctors told Jacobs to not only forget about boxing, but walking properly was going to be an issue.

"It was the worst thing you could possibly tell me," Jacobs told ESPN New York. "I've been boxing for half my life."

Somehow, some way, Jacobs made it back. In defying science he used the sheer power of belief and refused to listen to the odds.

"The doctors told me I would never be able to box again," Jacobs told reporters after a recent workout. "It was the crazy part of me that wanted to do what the doctors told me I couldn't do. To have gone through what I've gone through in the past year and a half, to have this opportunity and attention, to have people say I appreciate you, it's an amazing feeling.

"To have this amazing Barclays card on October 20, it's going to be historical."

A win over Luteran is the first step back towards title contention, but whether or not Jacobs is victorious in a boxing ring again, he's already won by conquering a titan of a disease.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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