By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Eddie Hearn was blunt Tuesday.
The British promoter appreciates the platform and the opportunities HBO has afforded Daniel Jacobs since the former WBA middleweight champion signed a contract last fall to fight exclusively on that premium cable network. Jacobs and his manager, Keith Connolly, also are thankful for a deal that has compensated Jacobs well thus far.
Hearn made it clear, though, that Jacobs signed with the network ultimately to get either a rematch with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin or a shot at Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez. Jacobs gave Golovkin what then was considered the toughest fight of Golovkin’s career and wants a chance to avenge his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat March 18 at Madison Square Garden.
“We joined HBO for a number of reasons,” Hearn said during a press conference to officially announce Jacobs’ fight against Maciej Sulecki on April 28 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. “They’re great to work with, great profile, great people. But we also joined HBO to fight the winner of Canelo-Golovkin and I’m gonna be doing all I can, God-willing a victory over Sulecki on April 28th, to put pressure on my learned friend here, Mr. Nelson, to deliver that fight, the elite fights, the fights people want to see. And Daniel Jacobs deserves a shot at the winner of those fights, and we’ve got to make sure that we make it happen.”
Peter Nelson, HBO Sports’ executive vice president, addressed Hearn’s stance when he spoke a few minutes later.
Nelson noted that Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) and Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) could fight a third time following their much-anticipated rematch May 5. The HBO executive also stated that it’s up to Jacobs or Sulecki, if he were to pull off an upset, to create demand for a fight against the Golovkin-Alvarez winner.
“We have the rematch of Canelo and Triple-G on May 5th, and this leads into that just the week before,” Nelson said. “And obviously, the winner of this fight is gonna wanna fight the winner of that fight. What I’ll say about that, and to Eddie’s point about Jacobs wanting to fight the winner of that fight, it isn’t up to me. It’s gonna be up to the media, it’s gonna be up to the fans. And Danny Jacobs knows that. And Sulecki knows that. And when they go in to fight one another, they’re gonna have to deliver a performance that demands that the winner of Canelo-Triple-G face them. Because those two fighters have certainly earned the respect to where they are today, and as they’re on a collision course with each other once again, I’m sure a lot of people are gonna wanna see [them] fight a third time.
“But Danny Jacobs and Sulecki both have a great opportunity here. Danny can go out and prove the place that he wants to take in the division and he’s gotta do that with a knockout performance. And Sulecki stands a great opportunity here to create probably what would become one of the biggest upsets of the year. So that’s what’s at stake on April the 28th.”
Brooklyn’s Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs) clearly beat Milwaukee’s Luis Arias (18-1, 9 KOs) in the first fight of his HBO deal November 11 in Uniondale, New York. Arias’ refusal to engage that night made their 12-rounder largely an unremarkable bout, however, which has left Jacobs and his handlers eager to produce an impressive, fan-friendly performance against Poland’s Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs).
“Danny was looking to fight some of the top guys in this fight,” Connolly said. “His main target was Billy Joe Saunders, but Saunders had absolutely no interest in fighting Danny. So when Eddie gave us Sulecki as a possible opponent, Danny, myself and Al Haymon all discussed it, and we figured that this would be a great fight because we knew Sulecki is the type of fighter that won’t back down. I want Danny to look sensational in this fight so that the public demands a rematch with Triple-G.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.