He has a new promoter and a new network, now it’s up to Daniel Jacobs to become a star in boxing’s middleweight division. That quest begins Saturday night when the former middleweight champion from Brooklyn takes on Luis Arias at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island.
It will be Jacobs’ first fight after failing to dethrone Gennady “GGG” Golovkin last March at Madison Square Garden. Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) lost a unanimous decision that night, but ended Golovkin’s streak of 23 wins by stoppage.
His performance and life-story of beating cancer were good enough to attract United Kingdom-based promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who signed Jacob to a multi-fight deal. HBO also signed Jacobs and will televise Saturday night’s main event and the top undercard attractions matching heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (19-0-1, 17 KOs) of Brooklyn and Mariusz “The Viking” Wach (33-2, 17 KOs) of Poland; and Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin (20-0, 16 KOs) of Shirley, Long Island, against Roberto “Massa” Ortiz (35-1-2, 26 KOs) of Mexico.
This will be Matchroom Boxing’s first production as the lead promoter in the United States.
“It’s an awesome opportunity,” Jacobs said. “The promotion has been A-1 for the last few months and the focus is on me. To have the focus on me is a blessing that I’m grateful for. I’m excited for the future. Whatever comes after this I’m pretty sure it’s going to be great as long as I look spectacular and do my job.”
The job is to get past Arias (18-0, 9 KOs), of Milwaukee, who has talked a good game leading up to his first showcase fight by pointing out Jacobs has been dropped in previous bouts against Sergio Mora and Golovkin.
“I’ve done everything I needed to do,” Arias said. “I am physically ready. I’m mentally ready and I’m ready to shock the world.”
Jacobs said he has been motivated by Arias’ gift of gab.
“Maybe it’s not just him bluffing,” Jacobs said. “I have to take it as a guy who believes he can do what he says he can do. He says he’s going to be in the center of the ring and that means he’s got a fighter’s mentality. That’s what fans want to see is someone who will put it on the line.”
Jacobs may have lost to Golovkin, the linear middleweight champion, but he came away from the fight knowing he was capable of winning. Jacobs was dropped in the fourth round of that fight, but recovered and came on strong in the later rounds. He lost 115-112 on two cards and 114-113 on another.
“That fight made me realize I’m the best middleweight in the world,” Jacobs said. “It gives you an extra factor when you know you have the skills to beat the best.”
While he is still advised by Al Haymon, Jacobs’ move to Matchroom Boxing raised eyebrows. He became the first American fighter signed by the same promotional company that handles IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. Hearn is hoping to stage four fights over the next year in America, with Jacobs being one of his star attractions.
“The key for Danny Jacobs is to keep winning and stay active,” Hearn said.
That sounds good to Jacobs. “We’re going to be active from this point on,” he said. “A fighter in his prime needs to stay active. A fighter, who doesn’t have certainty when he’s going to fight again, it’s hard for him to stay mentally ready.”
Meanwhile, Hearn confirmed he had breakfast on Friday with Shelly Finkel, the manager of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. It was the first serious discussion about a proposed bout between Joshua and Wilder. “I think the first meeting was important to lay down the marker,” Hearn said. “I wanted to make a statement early in the meeting that we want this fight. Whether it happens next or the fight after it has to happen in 2018.”