Cletus Seldin remembers occasionally making the nearly hour-long trip from Shirley to Uniondale when he was young, arriving at the big arena on Hempstead Turnpike to watch the Islanders play or the circus acts play out inside Nassau Coliseum.
“It was like a little family vacation almost,” Seldin said, “because we didn’t get too many treats like that as a kid.”
Now he’s 31, lives in Bay Shore and owns a notable nickname: “The Hebrew Hammer.” It comes with being an undefeated power-punching Jewish boxer. He mostly has fought at The Paramount in Huntington.
But Seldin will be working a much larger room Saturday night, returning to the Coliseum as one of the attractions there for the first time.
This will be his HBO debut, too. His 10-round super lightweight bout against Roberto Ortiz will open the 10 p.m. telecast. Heavyweights Jarrell Miller and Mariusz Wach and middleweights Danny Jacobs and Luis Arias will follow. Seldin is 20-0 with 16 KOs. His 31-year-old Mexican opponent is 35-1-2 with 26 KOs.
“I’m ecstatic, so excited to be fighting on HBO and to be in my hometown of Long Island,” Seldin said.
The 5-7 fighter won in September by decision after his bout in June was canceled. He had tested positive for elevated testosterone, something his camp said stemmed from testosterone therapy.
“I know he’s a strong fighter,” Ortiz said. “He’s aggressive.”
So is Ortiz.
“It’s the type of fight that’s a throwback to the 1920s and ’30s and the heart of boxing, when you have two guys that are real bangers and punchers coming forward,” said Joe DeGuardia, Seldin’s Star Boxing promoter.
Seldin held the WBC international silver super lightweight title before vacating it. He wants this HBO event to be a step toward bigger fights. He craves a major world title for himself and Jewish boxing fans. The Star of David is proudly displayed on his trunks.
“There aren’t that many Jewish athletes in professional sports today,” Seldin said. “For me to be a part of boxing and be able to speak my mind … is by far one of the greatest gifts that I can give back to the Jewish community.”
Seldin played football and wrestled at Longwood High School. He then competed in MMA and bodybuilding. His pro boxing career began in 2011.
“My entire athletic career has prepared me for boxing,” Seldin said. “I have a unique physique that nobody in the sport of boxing has. I am a strong, strong human being that nobody will be able to find at 140 to 147 pounds in this entire world that can punch, take a punch and know strategy like myself.”