Daniel Jacobs Heads Toward Bigger Fish After Decision Over Sulecki
There’s a Catch 22 that comes with facing a relatively unknown opponent — beat him easily and you’ll get little credit, but struggle to put him away and you’ll be criticized.
Daniel Jacobs didn’t put Maciej Sulecki away on Saturday night, instead going the distance and winning by unanimous decision. He nevertheless deserves acclaim for the victory.
Sulecki may have been relatively unknown to most American fight fans, yet he was neither undeserving nor unskilled. He came in game, gave Jacobs a good challenge, and allowed Jacobs to show just how capable he is at rising above a good challenge in the ring.
Sulecki was probably best known in the United States for being the first to defeat Hugo Centeno Jr., stopping him in 10 rounds back in 2016. Centeno is the same fighter who Jermall Charlo obliterated earlier this month. After that win, Sulecki went down to 154 pounds before returning back to the 160-pound division to face Jacobs.
It was a big opportunity, and Sulecki came out aggressively in an attempt to seize it, spurred on by the chants of the Polish fans in attendance at Barclays Center. He landed a couple rights early on, showed good timing with his leads and counters, and did a decent job of dodging Jacobs’ shots. Jacobs responded, demonstrating his superior hand speed, and sending out combinations as a measure that proved to be both reactive and proactive. He was fighting back, yes, and he was doing so in a way that would help him set the tone for later on.
Jacobs knew that Sulecki wanted to counter. He also knew that he could take Sulecki’s shots if he had to. So he would throw out the first punch of a combination, drawing out Sulecki’s counter, but would continue punching with two or three more shots, catching Sulecki while he was vulnerable and landing clean.
Jacobs had an emphatic fourth, and Sulecki began to counter less, aware of what could be coming back his way. He still was trying, but he was momentarily more selective. Sulecki wasn’t going to give in, though, and he attempted to regain the momentum in the middle rounds. Jacobs’ trainer implored him to go to the body, to take the fight out of Sulecki. Jacobs didn’t do much of that in the eighth, though he dug downstairs on several occasions in the ninth.
Sulecki wasn’t going to away easily, so Jacobs continued to pick up points on the scorecards, building and protecting his lead, and drawing blood from Sulecki’s nose in Round 11.
Sulecki knew time was running out and began the final round with more activity. He left himself open in the process. Jacobs responded with a one-two, then quickly sent out the same combination again. This time, Sulecki began to throw a right hand as Jacobs’ right hand landed. Sulecki went down dramatically, though he was up and steady by the count of four.
The fight ended with the two men trading — both Jacobs and Sulecki threw and landed more power shots in the 12th round than they had in any of the preceding 11 rounds, according to CompuBox. It was an entertaining end to a competitive fight in which the victor was clear before the scorecards were even read.
The judges had it 117-110 (nine rounds to three with an extra point deducted from Sulecki for the knockdown), 116-111 (eight rounds to four) and 115-112 (seven rounds to five).
Jacobs improved to 34-2 with 29 knockouts. This was his second straight win after a close and competitive loss to Gennady Golovkin in March 2017. Now it’s time for him to move toward the bigger fish in the middleweight pond, even if fights with Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez probably won’t happen in the near future.
Jacobs called out Jermall Charlo, a very intriguing fight if network and promotional politics don’t get in the way. HBO, which has Jacobs under contract, also has recently featured 160-pound titleholder Billy Joe Saunders and former 154-pound titleholder Demetrius Andrade.
Sulecki suffered his first loss and is now 26-1 with 10 KOs. It’ll be interesting to see how he improves from this experience the next time he shares the ring with a top contender.
Isaac Dogboe Rises from Early Knockdown to Stop Diego Magdaleno Late
Isaac Dogboe went down early — but he wasn’t going to go down for good without putting up a fight.
He put up a hell of a fight against Jessie Magdaleno. And he never went down again.
Instead, Dogboe got off the canvas in the first round, battled back and went on to drop Magdaleno three times, scoring an 11th-round technical knockout, defeating a very good fighter and capturing a junior featherweight world title in the process.
Dogboe came forward from the outset, as expected, forcing Magdaleno to work to keep him off. At the halfway point of the opening round, Dogboe forced Magdaleno to the ropes. Magdaleno returned fire with a right hook, a left hand and another right, sending Dogboe to the mat. Dogboe had put himself in poor position with poor balance and paid the price. They were legit shots that put him down, however.
So was the first left hand that Magdaleno threw and landed after Dogboe rose. Dogboe remained standing this time, threw back with a right of his own and then dug to the body to try to earn himself some relief. They each landed clean blows before the bell, Magdaleno scoring with another left, while Dogboe got in a good right.
As exciting as the first round was, the second was much slower — until the final minute. The action continued in Round 3, with Magdaleno catching Dogboe with a good left halfway through the round, bringing a momentary tremble to Dogboe’s legs. Dogboe held on, then stood in and fired back.
Dogboe had weathered the storm. Now he was about to bring the thunder.
Early in Round 5, Magdaleno threw a lead right hook. Dogboe ducked under it and came up with a hard right hand, sending Magdaleno crashing down. Magdaleno rose by seven, with plenty of time remaining in the round, and Dogboe took advantage by unleashing heavy leather. Magdaleno tried holding on and made it out of the round. He took a lot of punishment in the process.
But Dogboe seemingly took his foot off the gas, opening up the possibility of Magdaleno getting back in the fight. Perhaps Dogboe was now headhunting too much instead of going to Magdaleno’s body to take the fight out of him. Perhaps Dogboe had punched himself out. Magdaleno also helped his own cause with some good bodywork.
Dogboe ultimately returned to the body shots, however, dominating a 10th round that saw Magdaleno spend much of it on the ropes. That wasn’t where he wanted to be. Even when he had the opportunity to escape, he’d instead remain and wave Dogboe in. It was foolish. One body shot from Dogboe brought a visible bend in Magdaleno’s leg with 35 seconds left.
In total that 10th round, Dogboe landed 23 of 76 shots while Magdaleno was just 6 of 25, according to CompuBox.
Dogboe remained with the body — and lower — at the start of Round 11. At one point, Magdaleno used both of his arms to hold Dogboe’s left. Dogboe’s right hand was still free, and he used it to throw a low blow, then a right to the body and a right to the head. Finally, with his left hand let free, Dogboe followed up with a shot that left Magdaleno on all fours for the count of eight. Magdaleno complained to the ref about the low blow, to no avail.
Dogboe went back to work. Magdaleno wasn’t doing enough to keep Dogboe off. And so Dogboe finished Magdaleno off, wrapping things up with a right uppercut and a left hook. Magdaleno collapsed forward. The ref had seen enough. Dogboe also dropped down to his knees, celebrating the greatest accomplishment yet in his career.
Dogboe is now 19-0 with 13 KOs. He’s still got plenty of flaws, but he’s also got plenty of power and heart. He’s a fun fighter in what has long been a fun division, and he pairs up well with the other titleholders and contenders at 122 pounds. A rematch with Magdaleno would also be acceptable.
Magdaleno, however, will need to recover and rebuild after losing for the first time as a pro. He is now 25-1 with 18 KOs. This was only the second defense of the title he’d won from Nonito Donaire in late 2016. After taking an easy win over Adeilson Dos Santos in 2017, Magdaleno proceeded to spend more than a year out of the ring.
It’s uncertain how much the layoff hurt him. It’s clear how much Dogboe did.
In Other Action: Bryant Jennings Outpoints Dawejko, Jesse Hart Stops Nicholson, and Shakur Stevenson Wins Again
– Bryant Jennings picked up his fourth straight victory, scoring a unanimous decision over Joey Dawejko in front of both fighters’ hometown Philadelphia crowd.
Jennings lost back-to-back fights in 2015, dropping a decision against then-heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and then getting disposed of in seven rounds by contender Luis Ortiz. He spent more than a year and a half away but has been quite busy over the past eight months. Jennings is now 23-2 with 13 KOs.
He’s still not shown enough to earn a fight against one of the best big men in the world. At least Dawejko (now 19-5-4 with 11 KOs) was an upgrade from Jennings’ recent opponents.
“I’m still climbing to go the top,” Jennings said in an interview with Tha Boxing Voice on Saturday. “I’m not where I would want to be, so I still got work to do. We have a specific route that we’re thinking of taking.”
He’s still climbing, but there’s only one way to rise, and that’s to take another step. The next fight should be against someone higher up on the ladder than Dawejko.
– Super middleweight contender Jesse Hart scored a technical knockout over Demond Nicholson in a fight with a bizarre conclusion.
The end came in the seventh. Earlier in the round, Hart had landed a right hand that left Nicholson squatting nearly all the way down to the mat. Hart followed with a left hand. Nicholson rose and walked away with his back turned, complaining to the referee about being hit behind the head.
Hart closed in and attacked with an extended flurry, sending Nicholson reeling across the ring. Nicholson tried to hold on and then dropped down. The ref counted, then stopped at seven. Nicholson remained down. The ref waved him up and then waved things off.
“That was a disgracefully refereed fight,” tweeted Nicholson’s promoter, Lou DiBella. “I don’t care if Hart was winning; there were endless rabbit punches. What don’t the commentators not get about the dangers of looped punches being intentionally thrown to the back of the head?”
Unless the result gets overturned, which is doubtful, the fight gives Hart a record of 24-1 with 20 KOs. This was his second win after a competitive loss to titleholder Gilberto Ramirez last September.
Nicholson is now 18-3-1 with 17 KOs. He had his moments but otherwise has suffered two defeats in the past three fights.
– Featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson has now been fighting professionally for a little more than a year. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist moved to 6-0 with 3 KOs against the previously unbeaten Roxberg Patrick Riley.
The end came halfway through the second round. Riley is now 12-1 with 6 KOs. That’s what happens when you not only step up after a career of fighting weak opposition — no one on Riley’s ledger had a winning record, and their combined stats were 31-118-5 — but step up against someone as talented as Stevenson.
Stevenson deserves a better challenge, but he also deserves not to be rushed too quickly. This is the time for managers and trainers to refine their fighters, to improve their talents and shore up their weaknesses before throwing them in with the lions.