Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |


Fighters talk the talk at Jacobs-Arias final presser, will they walk the walk on Saturday?

The confident and competitive banter between Daniel Jacobs (at the podium) and Luis Arias has been fun during the build up to their HBO-televised main event on Saturday. Photo / @MatchroomBoxing

These things can be a bit dreary, because of a feeling that we’ve all been there, done that, heard this and seen that, too many times before.

Boxing press conferences are often lifted up, if you are lucky, as a media member, when a charismatic persona provides some levity, some zest and/or spice. In this age, that personality isn’t as often as you might expect provided by the fighter, as, the old timers will lament, a lot of the fun has been removed from the equation.

Promoters can sometimes fill the breach; you saw that last week in NYC when Don King turned back the clock, and made what could have been a slightly formulaic exercise something more. He elicited chuckles as he played on his reputation, and offered tongue in cheek bombast.

A press conference held today, Thursday, to bang the drums for Danny Jacob’s premier outing as a bonafide A-side attraction, unfolded at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square, and you know what… it fit in with the milieu, and offered that much more beyond the occasionally stale norm.

I walked to the joint, and strolled past The Naked Cowboy, in his tidy whities, workin’ the street hustle for tips, and then made my way into the theater. There was Peter Nelson, the young gun executive with HBO, who’d made a bold move by signing Jacobs to a multi-fight exclusive deal, and over there was a young hopeful, Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin, a brash Long Islander who told me he damn well deserved this slot he’d secured, fighting Roberto Ortiz in the HBO TV opener in a junior welter faceoff from a card taking place at Nassau Coliseum.

I edged into the room where the mic was set up, and saw newbie-to-America promoter Eddie Hearn flashing his easy grin and shaking hands with building personnel, promotional execs, managers and media. In a few minutes, he’d be flashing glimpses of charm and humor which helped make this presser a notch above average from my viewpoint.

Another reason for the solid grade given to this press event: Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller is irrepressible, dynamic in demeanor, and undeniably a solid presence in the heavyweight division. And, as Hearn told the assembled, if he takes out 6-foot-7 Pole Mariusz Wach in destructive fashion, he will make his way onto tons more radar screens. Now, whose screens, we wonder? He’s hinting that that he will be hooking on deeper with Hearn, lead promoter of this event, with Brooklyn’s Dmitriy Salita in the co-promoter chair, on the HBO platform. Salita signed Miller, who came over from the kick-boxing world, when Miller was new to the square ring, and they’ve stuck together from a time when Miller was dismissed as a too large dabbler in the sweet science.

Yes, some uncertainty hung in the air, and not in a bad way. Media and fans are eager to see how things will be playing out in the heavyweight class, with Miller added to the mix, and with Hearn boasting the talents of Anthony Joshua, a massively muscled magnetic attraction in the U.K., someone who is filling stadiums and attracting masses of sponsors to his story.

More color and flair was offered when Seldin took to the mic. It was clear he was pleased as punch to be in the mix and in fact marveled at his rise. He’d felt he’d maybe never get out of the local hero slot, being the guy who sold out The Paramount in Huntington. “It’s graduation time,” he told us, and he promised he’d be in the mix for five years, then he’d hang up the mitts. Hearn, who presided with a laid back enthusiasm, cracked that Seldin can come work for his Matchroom team when he’s done boxing.

Yes, the event boasted some trash talking, and Luis Arias, the 18-0 hitter who meets Jacobs, and is promoted by Roc Nation, got top honors. He told us that Jacobs would be in for a rude awakening Saturday night and he’s in it to win it, and screw up Jacobs’ desired near term arc. “Just to get approved to HBO Championship Boxing, at only 18-0, is an accomplishment,” he said. “The world will get to see me shock Danny Jacobs,” he said, and then told us that Jacobs (32-2) has hit the canvas before. And, just maybe, will again come Saturday.

Jacobs looked like he was having fun hearing Arias’ plucky promotion and posturing. Hearn told us that “Jacobs wants to become a superstar” and then the Brooklyner hit the mic. He gave Arias half-props for talking a good game. “This guy has been speaking for the both of us, I think he’s sold this fight alone,” he stated. There are levels to this game, he said, and being from Brownsville, he “never ran, and never will.” Jacobs said he’d box his way, on his terms, and will stand center ring and rock and roll when he wants to, if he decides to. “You’re going to know there’s levels to this game,” he promised. “There’s no added pressure, believe me, this is not my first rodeo,” he informed.

Miller had the watchers in the palm of his hand. He said he’d been off cheeseburgers, for two months, because he respects this opportunity. And after Wach said in Polish that the fight would be “brutal” and promised there would be “blood,” BBM responded that “I am going to kick his behind!”

He thanked his team for steering him away from Snickers, and said that this camp was rough, in honor of Wach’s pedigree. He thanked promoter Salita, and recalled he started boxing at age 14. “It has not been easy, I was not given no silver spoon,” he told us. He hasn’t been lucky, he said, he’s worked his tail off.

My three cents: Yes, I admit, I have my fan hat on when I tell you I am curious and eager to see how things play out for the Brooklyn boys, Jacobs and Miller. They have chops and charm, and now it’s just a matter of seeing how much. Enough to take them to the very uppermost reaches of their division? Time tells. And seeing Hearn’s incursion is compelling. It’s ballsy and not repugnant, because it isn’t a hostile takeover. He insists he wants to put together compelling fights and is asking us to judge him on his merits. Fair enough. All in all, if the fights equal the press conference quality, it should be a good show.


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