By Thomas Gerbasi
Cletus Seldin isn’t the type to blow up between fights and indulge at too many of Long Island’s fine restaurants, but after stopping Roberto Ortiz in the third round of his HBO debut on Nov. 11, he was checking out the dessert table at a wedding he was attending in Florida with bad intentions.
“I had a whole plan of eating all these delicious desserts and getting a little fat, and I just said no,” he laughed. But don’t put it all down to the discipline of an unbeaten prizefighter on the rise. Instead, give a little credit to the phone call he received while at the wedding, one asking if he was willing to take a short notice fight against Canadian prospect Yves Ulysse Jr. in Laval on Dec. 16.
“They told me the name, I watched one or two rounds and then I fast-forwarded to the end and I said I’d take it,” Seldin said. “That was the absolute process of me taking the fight. I did it in five minutes.”
And here he is, in Quebec and waiting for Saturday night, which will put him in select company like Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. as one of the few fighters to fight on HBO in consecutive months. And more importantly for the unbeaten 31-year-old, it will mark the first time he’s fought three times in a year since he answered the bell four times in 2014.
“My first fights in my career went so fast and it was so nice, and that’s what I always wanted, overall,” he said. “As soon as I was able to get past an injury or get past being a little bit ill, we wanted to take complete advantage of it. This is my third 10-round bout in less than three months, which is unheard of nowadays, but this is exactly how I wanted to have my career going.”
Now it’s finally heading in the right direction, with a pair of shoulder surgeries a distant memory as he finally put himself on the world map with his victory over Ortiz. Now, he’s seeing the years of toil starting to pay off, and right on time.
“Maybe I’m just a stubborn New Yorker, but I don’t want to give in,” Seldin said. “I put so much effort into always wanting to be a professional athlete that I was willing to do anything. Even the last fight, I had less than three hundred dollars in my account when I stood at the podium last time. I kept my will and I kept hoping that all the hard work would pay off and it did and it’s why I couldn’t say no to a fight.”
It’s also why he didn’t go off the rails and take a victory tour after the biggest win of his career.
“You could definitely live it up,” he said. “I could have visited all the gyms, went to high schools, charity events and enjoyed it. Even at the wedding, I couldn’t do it. You have to be a different breed of fighter and have to have something inside you where you want to take those risks and take those chances. You don’t see it in boxing anymore, when we used to see all the other fighters fight every other month on average. It wasn’t a problem. But I guess now, people want to bask in their glory and enjoy it.”
Seldin just wants to fight.
“I enjoyed it for less than a few days and that’s a typical, hard-working blue collar background,” said the Long Islander. “You only get a few hours to relax and then you’re right back to work, so I totally understand it.”
And if HBO calls with a fight in January?
“Let’s break the record, baby.”