Daniel Jacobs, a middleweight boxer, found inspiration in a building.
Jacobs, who was raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, fought the battle of his life in 2011. After becoming ill on a USO tour in Iraq in March, doctors discovered that Jacobs had osteosarcoma -- a rare form of bone cancer that wrapped a tumor around his spine. The tumor caused part of his spine to break, which left Jacobs partially paralyzed below the waist.
That May, Jacobs had a six-hour surgery to remove the tumor. He was told by doctors that he might never walk again, let alone box. But this was not a fate that the fighter was willing to accept.
What followed was a 19-month journey back to the ring, one that featured grueling rounds of rehab.
It all paid off for Jacobs who knocked out Australian Jarrod Fletcher in 2:58 of the fifth round Saturday night at Barclays Center to win the vacant middleweight world title.
"It was a nightmare," said Jacobs (28-1, 25 KOs), who became the first cancer survivor to win a world title. "It was something I never pictured myself going through. I had to get 25 counts of radiation, had to learn how to walk again, and had to endure a lot that I wasn't necessarily ready for."
But what kept him going was the thought of fighting in the very arena he touched gloves in Saturday night. During rehab, Jacobs read that, within the next year and a half, boxing would be held at Barclays Center.
"I knew I had at least a year and half to get better," he said. "It was my motivation. Besides getting better for my family, the Barclays Center served as a major motivation for me to be able to come back and perform."
And that he did, eventually working his way back to standing, then walking, then beginning to hit the heavy bag. There was only one thing left to do -- step into the ring.
That happened on Oct. 20, 2012, the inaugural boxing match at Barclays Center. Jacobs, returning to the ring in the very place he dreamed of fighting in, defeated Josh Lutheran by technical knockout, announcing his triumphant return to the sport he loves in style.
"The ring walk was one of ages," he recalled. ". . . I had a first-round knockout and it was one of the best moments of my career."
Since returning to the ring, Jacobs had knocked out all six opponents he faced.
A middleweight bout between Danny Garcia (28-0, 16 KOs) and Rod Salka (19-3, 3 KOs) was the main event on the card.
Brooklyn's Sadam Ali (20-0, 12 KOs) took the vacant WBO intercontinental welterweight title, winning a split decision over Jeremy Bryan (17-4, 7 KOs).
Super middleweight D'metrius Ballard (6-0, 5 KOs) won by technical knockout over Barry Trotter (2-2, 1 KO) to lead off the card. Junior middleweight Prichard Colon (11-0, 10 KOs) defeated Lenwood Dozier (9-7-1, 4 KOs) by unanimous decision.
It took only 28 seconds for Marcus Browne (12-0, 9 KOs) to beat Paul Vazquez (10-6-1, 3 KOs) in a light heavyweight fight.
Lightweight Anthony Peterson (34-1, 22 KOs) knocked out Edgar Riovalle in just 2:41. Brooklyn's Zachary Ochoa (8-0, 4 KOs) topped Luis Cervantes (7-8-3, 2 KOs) by unanimous decision in a super lightweight bout.