Since losing his WBA middleweight title 13 months ago to Gennady Golovkin, Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs has been pushed to the margins of title contention while Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez battle not only for supremacy in the division but for status as the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing.
But Jacobs took an important step back toward the spotlight with an impressive unanimous decision over previously undefeated Polish contender Maciej Sulecki Saturday night at Barclays Center. It was the second straight win by Jacobs over an undefeated foe following his November decision over Luis Arias, and promoter Eddie Hearn said it should position Jacobs for a “marquee fight” next time out.
“I think the most impressive thing Danny has done is he’s fought two guys where he hasn’t got a lot to gain, but they had everything to gain,” Hearn said. “He’s proved his worth. He’s the one going out there and fighting the undefeated guys, and now, he must have a marquee fight next because he will rise and box even better against the better fighters.”
Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) was tested by the game Sulecki (26-1, 10 KOs) on his way to earning the decision of the judges by margins of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112. Those scores grew wider thanks to a 10-8 round in the 12th when Jacobs scored a stunning knockdown. Jacobs followed a sharp jab with a powerful straight right down the pipe to Sulecki’s chin, dropping him instantly.
“Going into the fight, I knew I had to look impressive and I was wanting to get the knockout,” Jacobs said. “But he was a tough, durable guy. Sometimes, you’ve got to set it up and take your time. In the later rounds, both of us were a little more tired. I caught him perfectly, but it was all set up from the jab.”
Jacobs was confident that he was leading on all cards heading to the late rounds, but he showed a greater sense of urgency in the 11th and 12th while pressing for a knockout. “I was thinking to give these fans a great show with a bang-out,” Jacobs said. “I wanted to stand toe-to-toe and try my best to get the knockout.
“But he got up and he showed grit. I love it. Polish guys are known for bringing it. Nothing but respect to him.”
The question now is who will share the marquee with Jacobs in his next fight? A May 5 rematch between Golovkin and Alvarez was scuttled when Alvarez was banned for an illegal substance. But they are expected to meet Sept. 15 in Las Vegas. Jacobs is the mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s WBA belt but must stand in line.
Most likely, Golovkin will be stripped of his IBF title before then, leaving Sergey Derevyanchenko as the No. 1 contender. But Derevyanchenko is a stablemate of Jacobs, training with Andre Rozier. WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders of England is a possibility, but he isn’t widely known in America.
Hearn’s focus admittedly is on WBC champion Jermall Charlo, and Jacobs said that would be his first choice. But it’s complicated by the fact Charlo is promoted by Al Haymon and fights on Showtime while Jacobs is under contract to HBO.
“That makes it difficult, but it’s a fight where both fighters would make a lot of money and we’d sell out Barclays in a heartbeat,” Hearn said of a Charlo bout. “Making fights is easy if both guys want to fight and Danny Jacobs wants to fight an elite name. He’s going to be first to sign on the dotted line.”