By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – If Daniel Jacobs fights Jermall Charlo next, Eddie Hearn thinks they could sell out the Barclays Center.
The British promoter and Jacobs himself acknowledged following the middleweight contender’s victory over Maciej Sulecki that they expected a bigger crowd at the Brooklyn building Saturday night for the eight-bout card headlined by Brooklyn’s Jacobs. Hearn announced the crowd at 7,892, significantly less than half the capacity for boxing at Barclays Center.
A week earlier, the Adrien Broner-Jessie Vargas card attracted an announced crowd of 13,964 to Barclays Center.
Houston’s Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) fought on the Broner-Vargas card and is a hard-hitting, emerging middleweight fans want Jacobs to fight next. Jacobs even said after defeating Sulecki that other than Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, Charlo is the opponent he most wants to fight.
“When you’re fighting guys like Sulecki, you’re not gonna fill the Barclays Center,” Hearn said during the post-fight press conference. “Because you’re just expected to win and no one knows about Sulecki. You fight Charlo, you sell out Barclays Center in a heartbeat. So you need a dance partner sometimes to fill these great arenas. But, you know, the crowd was good tonight. The atmosphere was great.
“Everybody left with a smile on their face. Everybody got value for money, and that’s what it’s all about as a promoter. So making fights is easy, if both guys want the fight. And Danny Jacobs now wants to fight an elite name. So any of those guys we put in front of him, we know he’s gonna be first to sign on the dotted line. If the others wanna play, then we’re good to go.”
Interest in a Jacobs-Charlo fight intensified following their well-publicized confrontation in a Barclays Center hallway after WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s knockout of Luis Ortiz on March 3. Charlo knocked out Hugo Centeno Jr. (26-2, 14 KOs, 1 NC) in the second round April 21 to win the WBC interim middleweight title and solidify his spot as the WBC’s mandatory challenger for Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs).
By beating Poland’s Sulecki (26-1, 10 KOs), Jacobs became the mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s WBA middleweight title. Neither Charlo nor Jacobs figure to get in the ring with Golovkin anytime soon, however, because Golovkin is expected to fight Alvarez again if Golovkin beats Vanes Martirosyan on Saturday night in Carson, California (HBO).
That could lead Jacobs and Charlo toward fighting each other.
“It’s all about money,” Hearn said. “It’s all about sitting down and looking at the financials. Danny Jacobs is ready for that fight. We know we’d have a deal for Danny Jacobs to make that fight. And then we’ll sit down with [adviser] Al [Haymon] and talk about the Charlo fight. Obviously, you’ve got Danny on HBO, Charlo’s been boxing on Showtime, so it’s always difficult. But it’s a fight where both guys will make a lot of money. It’s a fight that would sell out the Barclays in a heartbeat.”
Hearn mentioned WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) and IBF mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) as potential opponents for Jacobs as well. Whoever Jacobs fights next, he and his handlers want a higher-profile opponent that could help lure a bigger crowd to his hometown arena.
“I don’t necessarily look at it as lack of support,” Jacobs said. “I just think with the opponent that I had, he wasn’t the most recognized guy. But I do think that someone that’s highly recognized as a threat, in a 50-50 fight in most opinions, I think those would sell out the crowd and bring the Brooklyn fans in. Because at the end of the day, guys, people, the fans that pay their money wanna see great shows. So if they’re not coming out, it’s because, you know, maybe they don’t know who this guy is and maybe they’re not expecting him to bring it. I mean, let’s just face it, a lot of people were expecting me to just go in there and knock this guy out. The fans who did show up got a great show. And then people watching it on HBO also got a chance to see a great show.
“But at the end of the day, you know, it’s progression. I’m climbing that ladder. I can’t force people to come out, but all I can do is try to perform well, so that the next time out, you know, the buzz could be going. ‘You see that last performance from Jacobs? Next time I’m gonna go and support him.’ And hopefully by that time, we’ll sell out the Barclays. But, you know, it’s all love. Brooklyn is spreading love and that’s exactly what we’re gonna do in the future. I look forward to being back here at the Barclays and, you know, performing against an elite-caliber type guy.”
Jacobs’ previous fight – a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Luis Arias – helped draw an announced crowd of 6,921 on November 11 to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. His win against Arias came in his first fight with England’s Hearn as his promoter.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.