Jacobs and Miller Turn Back Tough Opponents to Score Hometown Wins
By Kieran Mulvaney
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Daniel Jacobs dropped Maciej Sulecki in the twelfth round to seal a victory that thrilled his hometown Brooklyn crowd, but the New Yorker had to work far harder than many had imagined beforehand. Sulecki, although not widely-heralded, was undefeated entering this contest, and he showed why in a middleweight fight that included several shifts of momentum, as first the American and then the Pole seized the initiative before Jacobs grasped control of the contest in the final stages.
The first few rounds were close and cagey, Sulecki (26-1, 10 KOs) deploying a fast jab and rapid-fire straight right hands to keep Jacobs on his back foot. The New Yorker switched back and forth between orthodox and southpaw stances to find a response, before electing to throw out the boxing contest and focus on making it a fight. He tore into Sulecki with left hands to the body and big right hands upstairs, backing him to the ropes with a barrage at the end of the fifth round and walking him into a short right in the sixth. Halfway through the bout, Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) appeared to be growing increasingly comfortable and in control; but Sulecki had other ideas.
The man from Warsaw came out for the seventh on his toes, firing right hands behind a jab that was again sharp and precise, and landing a combination that left Jacobs looking mildly confused and flustered. A right hand landed from Sulecki, and then another and yet another; and he maintained his new-found momentum through the eighth, firing flurries through Jacobs’ guard.
Jacobs began to slow the Sulecki bandwagon in the ninth, and by the tenth had begun to assert himself again. A series of right hands, and a sharp left-right combination, won him the eleventh and put him into a strong position entering the final frame. Both men came out for the twelfth feeling they needed to win it, but it was Jacobs who sealed it when his right hand landed before Sulecki’s, dropping the Polish boxer to the canvas. Sulecki looked dazed, but hauled himself to his feet and after surviving a Jacobs attempt to land a succession of home runs, actually looked the fresher over the final minute of the fight.
In the end, the scores were as they should be: close but unanimous, the three ringside judges seeing the fight in Jacobs’ favor by scores of 115-112, 116-111 and 117-110.
“He was a tough customer,” said Jacobs afterward. “I think we abandoned the jab a little bit, going for the knockout because we wanted to give the fans a good show. But he showed he belonged in here tonight.”
For the first two rounds of Jarrell Miller’s heavyweight victory over Johann Duhaupas, the man known as Big Baby seemed on his way to an early, impressive and concussive win. The Brooklynite pounded the French veteran with right hands and uppercuts, driving him into the ropes and buckling his knees. He might even have found the early finish had one of his punches not strayed low, granting Duhaupas the opportunity to take every second of recovery time that referee Shada Murtaugh would allow him.
“You’re in Brooklyn!” shouted Miller across the ring contemptuously as Duhaupas sought to gather himself. At that point, the Frenchman seemingly had no idea where he was.
The next two rounds suggested we would be in for a fierce contest after all, as Duhaupas (36-5, 22 KOs) seemingly woke up, began moving around the ring and bouncing on his toes and fired off jabs and straight right hands of his own. The notion of competitiveness was but an illusion, however: in the fifth, Miller once more asserted control, having evidently decided that he had seen enough of Duhaupas to know that his opponent could not possibly hurt him. From then until the final bell, the fight devolved into a pattern: Miller stalking Duhaupas, twisting his upper body to evade his foe’s punches and launching his own blows from a crouch. Some of those punches would be tapping blows, inasmuch as any punch from a 304-pound man could be called a tap, but they served to back up Duhaupas, functioning as tracer bullets to guide the heavier, more explosive ammunition that followed. Round after round, Miller (21-0-1, 18 KOs) walked Duhaupas down, twisted and turned in close range, showed some softer punches and then unloaded with a brief but hefty barrage. To his credit, however, Duhaupas took them all, even if his return fire was insufficient to deter Miller from coming back with more, and he was still standing at the end of twelve rounds.
The scores were 119-109 (twice) and 117-111.
“I was trying to get him out of there,” said Miller. But he’s a tough guy, and my corner said if I couldn’t get him out of there by five or six, to just get back to my jab. Then I wanted to show a big guy could go 12 rounds.”
While his performance was dominant, whether it was enough to secure him an appointment with the heavyweight division’s very biggest names – although Miller, always ready with a quick quip, welcomed the idea of Britain’s world heavyweight champion paying him a call.
“Get Anthony Joshua in the ring and I’m going to toast that English muffin,” he promised. “Bring him to Brooklyn and we’ll show him how it’s done.”