Daniel Jacobs was hoping for a knockout victory over Luis Arias on Saturday night to signal his return to contention in boxing’s middleweight division. But the Brooklyn native had to settle for a one-sided decision that felt more like a long sparring session at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Jacobs won easily on all three scorecards — 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109. The Post scored the fight 120-117. Jacobs was credited with a knockdown in the 11th, but couldn’t finish Arias, who lost for the first time in 19 fights.
“I was trying to go for the knockout, but I’ve been out nine months and I was a little rusty,” Jacobs said. “He was a crafty guy. Much respect to his team.”
Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs) hadn’t fought since losing a close decision to middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin last March in Madison Square Garden. That was just the second defeat of Jacobs’ career, but he took Golovkin the distance for the first time in 23 fights and gained a measure of respect for it.
This was also his first fight after signing a promotional agreement with British-based Matchroom Boxing and promoter Eddie Hearn. Jacobs also landed a multiple-fight deal with HBO, which televised Saturday’s bout.
Jacobs hurt Arias with a right hand midway through the first round and thought he might have an early knockout. But Arias of Milwaukee survived and held his own through the second round.
Jacobs looked like he wanted to shake off some rust in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, patiently stalking Arias, who was too much in a defensive mode to mount any offense of his own.
The action picked up in the sixth round when Arias started to stand his ground and fight back. Jacobs kept up the pressure, but didn’t let his hands go until the final seconds of the round when the two went toe-to-toe waking up a slumbering crowd.
That would be the best action until the 10th where Jacobs turned up his offense as Arias was either retreating or holding. Jacobs was credited with a flash knockdown in the 11th, but did not do real damage. He plans to fight again in March or April.
“I want to stay active,” Jacobs said. “We have major plans.”
In the featured undercard bouts, Brooklyn heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller captured a ninth-round TKO over Mariusz Wach of Poland. Miller (20-0-1, 18 KOs) took his time, peppering Wach with jabs and uppercuts. Wach (33-3, 17 KOs) didn’t offer much in return other than a strong chin. Also Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin won by a TKO in the third round over Roberto Ortiz of Mexico (35-2-2, 26 KOs). Seldin of Shirley, Long Island, improved to 21-0 with his 17th knockout.
Meanwhile, Hearn, the promoter for British heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, said a unification bout with WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder will likely happen sometime next fall.
“The longest you may have to wait for this fight is 12 months,” Hearn said this week while promoting Jacobs-Arias . “The fans want it sooner rather than later, but it has to be the right deal.”
Tentative negotiations began this week in Manhattan where Hearn had breakfast with Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel. Hearn described the informal meeting as “all optimistic” and said talks are on-going with Finkel and Wilder’s advisor Al Haymon.
“There’s a long way to go,” Hearn said. “But there’s a desire from both camps to get this fight made and when there’s that desire there can be some common ground and you hope to find that out in the coming weeks.”