Six weeks ago, barely anyone knew the name Cletus Seldin. He was signed to face Roberto Ortiz on an HBO card on Long Island, where Daniel Jacobs returned in the main event to take on Luis Arias.
Seldin getting on the card was, in a way, almost pure luck. The 31-year-old “Hebrew Hammer,” a local fighter and attraction who usually fought at Huntington’s Paramount Theatre, got on the bill because Ortiz needed an opponent, as HBO basically owed him an appearance after a September fight with Antonio Orozco fell through, when Orozco missed weight.
Seldin and Ortiz would open the broadcast, to little anticipation or fanfare. And then we saw Cletus Seldin fight, coming out with a true determination to not just win, but to impress. This was his big opportunity, and he wanted to make it count, wanted to make sure that the premium cable network would call his number again in the future.
Seldin demolished Ortiz, stopping him in the third round of a fight where he simply attacked, attacked, and attacked some more. He overwhelmed his opponent, and yes, he impressed.
Enough so that HBO did call him again, and quickly. Seldin (21-0, 17 KO) and his team have stepped for another HBO fight just four weeks after the win over Ortiz. On Saturday, he travels to Laval, Quebec, where he again opens the show against Yves Ulysse Jr.
“I believe that if you sacrifice every single thing possible, you have to do that to make yourself a successful person,” Seldin said at Thursday’s press conference. “My blood sweat and tears, I will sacrifice everything for your entertainment.”
He added, “I want to show the boxing world, that you don't have to have a big amateur background to become a main event person on a high network, it's determination and refuse to lose attitude that will take this to the next level.”
Seldin said he’s expecting “about 50” of his “Hamma Head” fans to travel up to Quebec for the fight, and that he expects them to be loud.
But what of Ulysse? Here we have a 29-year-old fighter from Montreal, a prospect in his own right, coming off of a loss to Steve Claggett on October 27 in Montreal, his hometown. It was a 10-round split decision, which Claggett won on scores of 97-93, 97-93, and 94-96.
It was a setback for Ulysse (14-1, 9 KO), who had beaten veteran Ricky Sismundo in his previous bout, and before that took the “0” from Golden Boy prospect Zachary Ochoa in March of this year.
He’s got home advantage against Seldin, and just like Seldin still has, big incentive to not just win, but perform well with the spotlight on him.
“It is time to shine,” he said at the presser, where he kept it brief. “This is our moment, this is our moment, we have been doing this for 10 years, we are going to take the spot.”
For Ulysse, it’s a chance to all but erase that loss to Claggett by winning an even bigger fight for an international audience. For Seldin, it’s a chance to gain even more fans, and to prove that his performance in November was no fluke. If he loses here, he could easily find himself written off as a one-hit wonder.
Both fighters have a lot to gain and plenty to lose on Saturday night.