And then there was Danny Jacobs: On fighting Sulecki, rematching Golovkin, and wanting Charlo
NEW YORK – The middleweight picture is in absolute disarray. Canelo Alvarez is suspended – at least for the time being – after testing positive for clenbuterol ahead of his rematch with Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin and his team are insistent on keeping the May 5 fight date but have had a hard time locking in an opponent. They even held a press conference on Thursday to announce that they had nothing to announce.
And then there’s Danny Jacobs. He has his fight date, an April 28 HBO headliner at the Barclays Center in his home borough of Brooklyn against unbeaten Polish fighter Maciej Sulecki. He’s content to stay above the fray as he awaits his shot at a world title.
“Whatever’s going on on the other side, I could care less. I have a manager for that, I have a promoter defending me, sticking up for me, making sure that I can get those opportunities,” Jacobs (33-2, 29 knockouts) told reporters Thursday at a media workout at Gleason’s Gym.
“I know I’m the mandatory for the WBA now (rated no. 2 behind Canelo in March ratings) and I’m just waiting for my opportunity. I know that these guys are not in a rush to fight me. So me being a world champion, it’s probably gonna be a little harder because Golovkin has all the belts. So it’s a great thing that I’m the mandatory, I’m really fortunate and grateful for that.”
Jacobs, 31, is hoping for a more crowd-pleasing outing than he had in his most recent fight, a ho-hum outfighting of a reticent Luis Arias in November in what was his first fight under promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. Now he’s fighting a few miles from where he grew up in Brownsville against a fighter who won’t be hard to find.
Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs) of Warsaw, Poland brings an awkward aggression to the ring and announced his arrival on the U.S. scene in 2016 with a stoppage of the erstwhile undefeated Hugo Centeno Jr., bloodying his face and dropping him with a cracking right hand to finish the fight in the tenth round. He’s sure to bring many fans from Polish strongholds in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and surrounding areas, and Jacobs says he’s up for the challenge.
“I think the Polish guys, they’re known for bringing fights. He might not be the most skilled guy that we’ve seen out there but at the end of the day, a guy who brings it, brings that heart, brings that drive, that willingness to go, I think that’d be great,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs’ last trip to the sport’s elite level was in March of 2017, when he surpassed universal expectations against Gennady Golovkin and lost a narrow decision. The way Jacobs performed after getting off the canvas from a fourth round knockdown showed, if not the blueprint for how to beat Golovkin then the suggestion of one. Jacobs made a lot of believers that night with his courage and resourcefulness, solidifying himself among the top tier of the division.
How the fallout of the Golovkin-Canelo rematch affects the timetable for a possible rematch with Golovkin, Jacobs isn’t sure. Besides Jacobs, there’s a possibility of Golovkin taking a Canelo rematch later in the year if his suspension isn’t extended beyond his April 18 hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There’s also the issue of a mandatory Golovkin must make against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, who shares manager Keith Connolly with Jacobs, if he wants to hold on to the IBF belt.
“It might prolong it longer than I thought. It’s one of those tossups, I have no idea,” said Jacobs, who takes the position that Alvarez is responsible for what goes in his body, whether intentional or unintended. “I do know it’s not good for the sport, I do know it’s a bad look for everybody.
“I just think that he’s trying to go down a line of scrubs, it’s just about what sells now,” Jacobs added about the circus that has surrounded Golovkin’s inability to get an opponent for May 5. “I think Triple G, being that he was promoted as the devastating monster, I think the tides have kinda flipped now. I don’t think everyone’s running from him, I think everyone’s gunning after him now.”
How about Jermall Charlo, the WBC’s no. 1 ranked middleweight whom Jacobs confronted in the back halls of the Barclays Center last month in a video which went viral? It’s not his first choice, but it’s a fight he’d take.
“I want the champ next, I want the belt, I want Golovkin next, and if I can’t get Golovkin or the winner of Canelo and Triple G, if that was to happen, then I want Charlo. It’s simple,” said Jacobs of the unbeaten Texan, who faces Centeno on April 21 for the interim WBC middleweight belt.
Who he wasn’t as animated about discussing was the WBO title claimant Billy Joe Saunders.
“I think the likelihood of a Saunders fight is really, really hard. That guy has been ducking me for a long time so I’m not even gonna entertain it anymore. If it presents itself I’ll be all up for it,” said Jacobs.
While the division burns down around him, Jacobs keeps flashing his Brooklyn smile. He knows he’s in a good position as long as he keeps winning, and looks good doing so.
“I’m just looking forward to somebody coming to bring it and not stinking up the place,” said Jacobs.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].