Daniel Jacobs will be back in Brooklyn on Saturday night, fighting in front of a home crowd at Barclays Center for the first time in more than two years. He’ll have some company in the hometown favorite category.
Before the former middleweight world champion takes on Maciej Sulecki, fellow Brooklyn native Jarrell Miller will face off against Johann Duhaupas in a heavyweight battle. While Miller is fighting at Barclays Center for the second time – both in the last year – Jacbos is making his sixth appearance in the BROOKLYN BOXING ring, but first since his first-round knockout of Peter Quillin in December 2015.
Both fighters stopped in for a public workout on Wednesday afternoon in the arena’s GEICO Atrium.
“It’s a great comfort,” said Jacobs. “And I think I’m past that point where it brings pressure to me fighting in my hometown. I believe it adds more of a motivation factor than anything to see my family and friends and everyone in the crowd supporting me. To hear that Brooklyn chant, there’s nothing better than that when you’re a Brooklyn guy.”
It’s been 13 months since Jacobs battled Gennady Golovkin for the middleweight world title, taking the unbeaten unified champ the distance for the first time in nine years before dropping a narrow decision. Riding a raft of acclamation for his effort, he returned to the ring in November for a dominant decision over Luis Arias at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Arias fight began a new stage for Jacobs with a defined endgame to get another shot at Golovkin and the middleweight world championship. His fight against Sulecki has been declared an eliminator with the winner becoming a mandatory challenger for Golovkin’s WBA belt. But the field is getting crowded. Rising new middleweight Jermall Charlo claimed the WBC interim title with his knockout of Hugo Centeno at Barclays Center last Saturday to become that federation’s mandatory challenger. While Golovkin holds the WBA, WBC and IBF belts, the WBO title belongs to unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders. And Canelo Alvarez, who was supposed to fight Golovkin on May 5 in a rematch of their draw last fall, will be out there again after his six-month suspension concludes.
So Jacobs knows that perception matters and style points matter. He’s already got 29 knockouts among his 33 career wins, but after winning a decision over Arias, he’s looking for No. 30 on Saturday.
“Very high on the list of priorities,” said Jacobs. “The fans want to see knockouts. Obviously the fans love great shows, which I try to put on every time I go out. With the last performance I got a decision, but this one, I want to go for the glory. I want to go for the knockout. Whether it comes, it comes. A victory is assured in my opinion, but at the same time, fans I’ve got to give them what they want. They’re paying customers and they allow us to have the career that we have.”
Miller is building momentum in the heavyweight division, inserting himself in the conversation for a future championship opportunity.
Saturday’s matchup with Duhaupas will be Miller’s third fight in nine months. Before he stopped Gerald Washington in eight rounds at Barclays Center last July, Miller hadn’t fought in a year, and he’d had just 18 fights in his first seven years as a pro. But he quickly followed up that victory with a ninth-round TKO of Mariusz Wach on the undercard of Jacobs’ win at NYCB LIVE on Long Island.
So this will be Miller’s third straight fight hosted by BROOKLYN BOXING. Most significantly, it will be his third straight fight against a former world championship challenger. Duhaupas, with his 37-4 career record, took on Deontay Wilder for the WBC belt in 2015.
Washington had also taken on Wilder, and Wach had fought Wladimir Klitschko for the unified title in 2012.
With his 20-0-1 record, Miller is confident his time has come, and he’s ready for the next big step up – a shot against Wilder or Anthony Joshua. He just needs to take care of business first on Saturday.
“I’m definitely going to test him here and there,” said Miller of the matchup. “Boxing is a feeling out process. You’ve got to give and take a little bit here and there … and when I land a clean shot, we’ll get him out of there. I know I’m going to land some really good shots. My footwork feels phenomenal compared to my last two fights.”