In a loaded division, Daniel Jacobs wants to prove he’s the world’s best middleweight
Gennady Golovkin is 36. Canelo Alvalez is suspended. Jermall Charlo looked good last week, but who’s he beaten?
So when Daniel Jacobs was asked if he believes he’s the best active middleweight, he answered, “Absolutely, 100 percent. It’s just up for me to prove it now.”
For the first time since 2015, Jacobs (33-2, 29 knockouts) returns to his hometown Saturday night when he meets Poland’s Maciej Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs) on HBO (7 p.m. PDT) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The winner will be positioned behind World Boxing Assn. secondary champion Ryota Murata of Japan as a mandatory challenger to unbeaten, three-belt champion Golovkin, whom Jacobs lost to by a sliver of a unanimous decision in March 2017 at Madison Square Garden.
Although Jacobs speculated that ongoing vitriol between Golovkin and Alvarez makes Saturday’s bout supremely important for him if either decides to pursue another opponent, Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler dismissed the suggestion quickly.
“Gennady already beat him,” Loeffler said. “I think the fans would rather see Charlo or [World Boxing Organization champion] Billy Joe Saunders, and Murata is interesting.”
Loeffler has indicated that new terms will need to be negotiated after Alvarez submitted two positive tests for the banned performance-enhancing substance Clenbuterol in February. The fighter was suspended for six months by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
The trouble scrapped a May 5 bout between Golovkin and Alvarez, with Golovkin choosing Glendale’s Vanes Martirosyan as an alternate bout at StubHub Center on the date.
Loeffler suggested that the potential for making the richest prizefight of the year between Golovkin and Alvarez makes it worth setting aside the disappointment over the Cinco de Mayo date to create a festive Mexican independence weekend bout in September.
But Jacobs, like Alvarez, fights on HBO, so it’s an option. Jacobs said he can’t imagine being kept from a string of high-quality bouts in the talented division.
“I thought I beat Golovkin, but I don’t have to chase him if he doesn’t want to fight me because there’s so many options,” Jacobs said.
“I can see myself fighting Jermall Charlo or another top middleweight next. I don’t think I can get boxed out. The fans play a role in who they want to see. I feel like I’m gaining fans and that people recognize me as one of the best.”
Would Jacobs’ former manager, Al Haymon, allow his fighter Charlo such a bout?
“It’s up to the fighters. I don’t think Al or a promoter or anyone can hold a fighter back, because at the end of the day, we’re the boss,” Jacobs said.
After Charlo knocked out Oxnard’s Hugo Centeno on Saturday, Jacobs wants his turn.
“I need to win impressively, make it something the fans can lean on to demand the fight,” Jacobs said of beating Sulecki. “I believe this guy will come forward and make himself a little vulnerable and susceptible to getting hit with some hard shots by me.”
Jacobs said he believes he will get a shot at a title in the near future.
“I’ll be ready by the fall, for whenever I get the opportunity, because belts are more important than the money.”
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