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From Ringside: Matchroom’s U.S. debut a middling affair

Daniel Jacobs tried to put on a show, and Cletus Seldin did, but Matchroom’s American debut could have gone better.

Daniel Jacobs v Luis Arias Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

All in all, the first Matchroom show in America got a fair to middling’ grade, maybe a C plus or so, but much of that marking doesn’t come down to anything, really, that promoter Eddie Hearn himself did.

The major factor that didn’t raise the card, which unfolded at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island, NY Saturday evening, past C was a main event which didn’t get massive liftoff.

Danny Jacobs was ready and willing and focused and seeking to give the bang for the buck to the almost 7,000 people on hand to see the scraps, but his foe, Luis Arias, was in a mode which wasn’t conducive to offering a fan friendly deal. He’d throw one, max two shots and then reset to defender mode. He’d slide or clinch and on Twitter after, I offered that I think maybe his stock rose being that he went 12 with a dangerous hitter. Twitter slapped me in the face and took my lunch money…

Naw, Woods, Arias’ walk didn’t match his talk and he’s not someone we’re keen on seeing again.

That response kinda sorta matched up with what I was seeing on my timeline from watchers who seemed to dig Cletus Seldin’s smackdown of Roberto Ortiz in a 140 pound plus TV opener. “The Hebrew Hammer” started fast and furious and didn’t deviate from that path. Long Island is his neck of the woods and he acted like he damn well deserved this graduation fight, and that he didn’t want to return to his Prince of the Paramount status.

—At the post-fight presser, Seldin’s personality stood out and helped contribute to this certainty: you want to see what’s next for the Joe DeGuardia/Star Boxing scrapper, who told us that he would have liked to give Terence Crawford, now at 147, the toughest fight of his career, but he’s keen to take another step up in class and work to keep his Hammer Heads intrigued, as well as carve out more rooters in folks just discovering him.

Jarrell “Big Baby’” Miller had one of those fights that no, wont be remembered as an insta-classic, and he, media pals agreed after, got props for pretty well accurately assessing his tango with Mariusz Wach. “I give myself an F,” the 29-year-old on the cusp of a major league bout told me. He didn’t feel sharp or crisp and said he kind of knew that could be the case after a rough camp. His left elbow got tweaked in camp, and was barking at him during the fight. Thus, his left hook wasn’t the factor it normally could be and he wasn’t able to punish Wach who by the later rounds was dropping his right hand.

Wach got bashed pretty hard by many on Twitter. His physique, his work rate, his coordination and his entire skill set didn’t wow many tear down artists. But Miller, promoted by Dmitriy Salita, correctly noted that “a bad win is better than any loss,” and that he will learn from this outing, and come out better than before. He also told me that he didn’t feel as good ten pounds or so down, and that he “wanted to be smaller for media.” He likes himself ten pounds heavier and next time will listen himself and his body. Salita and Eddie Hearn both noted that Miller had Wach, who was stopped out because of a hurt hand, out of there earlier than Alexander Povetkin did, so there’s some stuff to like on this showing.

—More on Arias. He came in at 18-0 and acquitted himself superbly in the lead-up, but was on Saturday more seeking to survive, rather than thrive. He didn’t take the sort of chances he’d need to in order to give a underdog special to the peeps. I suspect in the days following, the self appreciation he was feeling after the decision loss will slide away a bit, because if he scans social media he will see too many comments giving him shit. He repeated again and again that he’s young, and that he was pleased to make it the full twelve and that he will be back better next time. Now, you can raise your stock in a loss, duh, hello Arturo Gatti, but generally that comes when you’ve contributed to a pairing that offered thrills and chills. His defender mindset made it so this main event wasn’t keeping some watchers from peeling off and turning to “SNL.”

—Jacobs was but of course genial and classy and articulate after the fight. He gave props to his crew and admitted he looked too hard to try and stop Arias, because he was mildly irked the Wisconsin boxer had talked such a sharp game. Loading up, giving Arias a heads up that a nasty launch was coming, helped the loser ready himself for incoming. Hearn noted that Jacobs was a mite rusty, having last gloved up in March and the fighter didn’t disagree.

—Jacobs’ trainer Andre Rozier said his kid loaded up too much, but he also understands a W is a W, and in the record books, that W is just a W, basically, the further we move away from it. He was also given the opportunity to fire back at Arias’ trainer John David Jackson, who complained after that Jacobs, who decided not to step on the HBO day-of scale, was at cruiserweight. Nah, said Rozier to me after, Danny was 171 on fight day. Jackson opined that there should be a max weight gain cap on fights and that mega-hydration is an unfair advantage to the non mega-hydrators. Rozier didn’t fire back angry, he was sitting right behind me while Jackson spoke, and stayed calm and classy, is his way.

—An unsung hero in the Jacobs story is manager Keith Connolly, who doesn’t seek attention. He’s been with Jacobs since day one, and the boxer gave him a heavy shoutout afterwards.

—Also getting a shoutout, from Jacobs, and Hearn, was conditioning advisor Chris Algieri. The Long Islander, Jacobs said, had him making 160 so easy he was able to eat breakfast the morning of the weigh in. Rozier shared that he is now training Algieri, who’d been with John David Jackson for a few fights, and he expects Algieri to be a different animal and A side talent with some more work. First Algieri has to sort out issues with Joe DeGuardia, his (ex?) promoter, Rozier told us.

—Hearn stayed till the last question from media, and told us he was happy with the attendance on Long Island. No, the US boxing fan isn’t as engaged or rabid, generally, as the UK ones, so there will be more and harder work than he has to offer in England. Also, with bouts last month in the area, and scraps on Nov. 4, Nov. 25, Dec. 2 and Dec. 9, there is and was an excess of offerings, which kept the Nassau number down.

—Hearn didn’t offer much new info on a potential Deontay Wilder v Anthony Joshua bout. But reading in between the lines, and parsing his words carefully, I think we see AJ and Wilder fight a parallel track bout in the first quarter and then collide, if all goes to plan, before the midway point of 2018. Wilder, he said, just isn’t as well known as he should be in the States, because he doesn't have the same dedicated promoter situation as an AJ does. He called PBC more of a “publicity” outlet than promoter and said no, he wasn't slagging Lou Dibella, who has been promoting recent Wilder fights. But he said that AJ is his mega A-side and every day he’s burnishing his rep, and Wilder could use the same. Really, did it sound like he was Don King style slyly telling the Bama boxer to come to Matchroom. Yeah and no, I think he knows Wilder is Team Al all the way and isn’t in a contractual position to switch up.

Readers, your top takeaways from the Nassau scraps and the Matchroom American debut?

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